Emotions and the self: between Aquinas and Descartes

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter aims to chart some useful scholarly approaches to the history of medieval and early modern affective theologies. It shows how a focus on emotions is especially conducive to revealing meaningful continuities that are often obscured by rigid modes of periodization and by the anti-scholastic rhetoric of early modern biblical humanists. A recurring feature of scholarship on the place of emotions and rhetoric in the Renaissance is a suggested revival of something ‘Augustinian’, and this has been a feature of scholarship on the period since before the history of emotions became a codified discipline. As Brian Cummings and others have noted, moreover, literary approaches to theological discourse in the Renaissance are both highly affective and more complex than the rote application of classical-rhetorical norms. The affective-theological strategies of Catholic humanists like Erasmus would leave an indelible imprint on the writings of reformers on the other side of the Protestant schism during the Reformation era.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge History of Emotions in Europe
Subtitle of host publication1100-1700
EditorsAndrew Lynch, Susan Broomhall
Place of PublicationLondon ; New York
PublisherRoutledge, Taylor and Francis Group
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9781315190778
ISBN (Print)9781138727625
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Publication series

NameThe Routledge Histories


  • emotions
  • self
  • theology


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