CHE Adelaide Biennial Research Meeting

It’s a sweltering day in Perth today and I am finally getting to blog about  Adelaide. What I wouldn’t give for a mint chocolate shake from Bracegirdles at this point! What is Bracegirdles? Read on………

One aspect of my doctoral research is an analysis of how “Gothic” emotions are represented in poetry of the Renaissance. This coincides with the ARC Centre for the History of the Emotions’ research efforts. Across the course of two days, researchers from various research nodes across the country were in Adelaide for a symposium/meeting/collaboratory.

The research meeting took place in the beachside town of Glenelg, South Australia. It’s like Cottesloe but with a decent cafe/restaurant/shopping strip minutes away from the seaside. Situated only 20 minutes away from the airport, it’s the perfect place for a writing retreat:









Some views of Glenelg. I should really get a better phone camera!










A view from the jetty. I started my mornings with a stroll down the beach with a coffee in hand.

I arrived a day early, and wandered around the cafe/shopping strip. Found a lovely cafe called Bracegirdles along the strip:










They specialise in chocolate, and I had a great mint chocolate shake in that cafe:













It was so good that I decided to savour its minty goodness over a book. On impulse, I grabbed a classic from Dymocks and plonked myself down for the next hour reading Grimm’s tales whilst enjoying the shake. Grimm’s was actually a really good read. It seems almost serendipitous that I came across the short story The Man Who Set Out To Learn What Fear Was given that my presentation at this research meeting was on Gothic emotions. The short story is an excellent anti-Gothic tale about a man whose stupidity renders him impervious to all sorts of Gothic terrors – from sleeping with dead bodies to confronting the walking dead. It is a great story that challenges the notion of fear in the Gothic tradition.

But I digress.

Across the space of two days, researchers from the various nodes gave 5 minute presentations on their research, and discussion sessions were organised for workshopping overarching challenges and concerns of the CHE’s research efforts. I had the opportunity to mingle with some of the most prominent medieval and early modern scholars. Including Peter Holbrook (Shakespeare’s Individualism), who I referenced in writing a paper the week before….. Check out the photostream here. Covering the period of 1100-1800, the Centre has a good number of researchers working on various different fields, from emotions represented in literature, to the study of emotions in historical accounts. Here’s a brief snapshot of some interesting projects:

Ursula Potter (University of Sydney) is working on the connections between green sickness and Puritan doctrine in early modern adolescents. This project has particular contemporary resonance – Ursula is exploring connections between these cases and 20th century aneorexia nervosa cases.

Do demons have emotions? Juanita Ruys’s project involves an investigation of the representation of demons’ emotions in the High Middles Ages. Find out more here!

Charlotte Millar’s project entails a 17th century approach that is not dissimilar to Juanita’s demonic emotions project. Hers is an analysis o the emotional dynamics of witches and their devils; she has an interest in 17th century witchcraft pamphlets.

The CHE’s education officers also gave little 5 minute spiels about the work they are involved in communicating the importance of learning about emotions to primary and secondary school students.

As researchers, we often work with esoteric topics, and specialised fields. So much so that one has to constantly ask yourself the question : who gives a rat’s ass? This is the beauty of education – it strips away the academic jargon and the sense of scholarly over-entitlement that researchers often have, to force researchers into asking and answering some very simple questions. How might I communicate my research to a broader audience? What am I working on? What is the relevance of what I am working on to a “bigger picture”?

Undertaking the Postgraduate Teaching Internship and teaching at the tertiary level this year has broadened my view of education. One is often asked the question of quantifying work in the humanities. If anything, I believe that education has an important part to play in “quantifying” and justifying humanities research. Ask yourself the question; if I were to introduce my topic to a high school student, would he/she understand what it is my research is about? Engagement with a broader audience is equally as important as racking up journal entries,books, and edited volumes.


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'horror': Middle English: via Old French from Latin horror, from horrere ‘tremble, shudder’.

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