Conference on Compassion in Early Modern Culture

Poster Compassion Conference smallOn 18 and 19 September 2015, ACCESS and the Department of Language, Literature and Communication of the Faculty of Humanities at VU University are organising an international conference on Compassion in Early Modern Culture.

Keynote speakers are Katherine Ibbett (University College London), Jan Frans van Dijkhuizen (Leiden University) and Bruce R. Smith (University of Southern California). In the parallel sessions, international researchers will present their research on early modern compassion.

ACCESS members are most welcome to attend (parts of) this conference. For more information, the programme, and (free) registration, see the conference website.

Call for Proposals – Expert-meeting Narrative, Ethics, and Medicine with Rita Charon

The VU University and VU University  Medical Center organize an expert meeting with Rita Charon, professor of Clinical Medicine and director of the Program in Narrative Medicine at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. In this meeting Phd studentes and andvanced RMA-students from different disciplines will  reflect on the value of Charon’s work. If you want participate in this event you are kindly invited to relate your own research project to the ideals and conceptual principles as elaborated by Charon in Narrative Medicine.

Subjects for contributions include but are not limited to:

  • Theoretical and methodological reflections on central concepts and ideas in Charon’s work, such as representation – attention – affiliation, empathy, coherence, narrative ethics, and the relation between body and mind.
  • Case studies concerning autobiographical or fictional illness narratives and artworks on illness.
  • The implementation of narrative medicine in medical education and practice.

The deadline for proposals is 1 january. Visit the website for more detailed information about the meeting and the proposals.

BATTLEFIELD EMOTIONS 1500-1900 interdisciplinary workshop

Friday 18 january 2013, 10:00 – 17:00

VU University, Boelelaan 1105 Amsterdam (room 1 E – 13)          For a route description see this link.


Battlefield Emotions 

From the 18th century onwards there is a growing interest in battlefield emotions. This can for example be seen in the reports and memoirs of soldiers, in the shift of focus from heroic facts to individual emotions in art and literature and the appearance of empathy and enthusiasm as important notions in military science. The aim of the workshop is to study how and why this changes did occur. In doing so it will try to chart the changes  in expressions of battlefield emotions and shed light on the social and cultural developments that brought these changes about.


Registration is possible before 1 january. If you want to participate please fill in this form.


See for the program below or download the full program with the abstracts of the lectures here .

10.00 – 10.40 Welcome and introduction

10.40 – 11.40 Lecture by Mary A. Favret (Indiana University, USA)  Fallen Bodies: Considering Soldiers and Suicides c.1800 (download abstract) and discussion

11.40 Coffee

11.50 Richard Smith (Goldsmiths University of London, UK) A “considerably larger emotional  capacity than the English”: Changing representations of the West Indian soldier’s character and sensibilities from the French Revolution to the First World War (download abstract) and discussion.

12.40 Lunch break

13.40 David Lederer (NUI Maynooth, Ireland) Where is the battlefield? The Ubiquity of Fear during the Thirty Years War (download abstract)

14.10 Lisa de Boer (Westmont College, USA) The Sidelong Glance: Tracing ‘Battlefield Emotions’ in Dutch Art of the Golden Age (download abstract)

15.30 Coffee

15.50 Mareen van Marwyck (Frankfurt am Main, Germany) “Love Wars”: The Sentimentalization of Violence in Early 19th Century German Literature (download abstract) and discussion

 16.40 Conclusions by Dorothee Sturkenboom (Independent Scholar)

17.00 Drinks

Battlefield Emotions 1500-1900 is organized by: Amsterdam Centre for Cross-Disciplinary Emotion and Sensory Studies (ACCESS), Group for Early Modern Studies Ghent University (GEMS), History Department Leiden University. For more information: Erika Kuijpers, / Cornelis van der Haven,

Boekpresentatie Pain and Compassion in Early Modern English and Culture

Feestelijke boekpresentatie

Jan Frans van Dijkhuizen
Pain and Compassion in Early Modern English Literature and Culture
(Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 2012)

Donderdag 20 december
15.15-17.00 uur
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Hoofdgebouw, zaal 6A-10

I.v.m. catering graag aanmelden via deze pagina.

Pijn kent een culturele geschiedenis. In het laat-middeleeuwse katholicisme gold lichamelijke pijn als een vorm van imitatio christi, en daarmee als een weg naar het heil. Deze gedachte werd tijdens de vroegmoderne periode verworpen door protestantse theologen, die de spirituele betekenis van lijden trachtten te herdefiniëren en in te perken. Pain and Compassion in Early Modern English Literature and Culture analyseert het vroegmoderne debat over lichamelijk lijden dat hierdoor ontstond.

Deze studie gaat met name in op de wijze waarop Engelstalige literaire auteurs (o.a. John Donne, George Herbert, Edmund Spenser en John Milton) de betekenis van pijn aan de orde stelden, en doet dit door hun werk in samenspraak te lezen met een breed scala aan devotionele, theologische, filosofische en medische teksten uit de periode.

Van Dijkhuizen laat zien dat vroegmodern Engeland de betekenis van pijn vooral legde in het medelijden dat het gadeslaan van andermans leed kan opwekken. Tegelijkertijd waren dichters en denkers het fundamenteel oneens over de precieze aard en doel van dat medelijden.


15.15u Ontvangst met koffie en thee

15.30u Aanvang boekpresentatie

  • Inleiding door Jan Frans van Dijkhuizen
  • Reacties van:

Els Stronks, hoogleraar Vroegmoderne Nederlandse letterkunde aan de Universiteit Utrecht
Agneta Fischer, hoogleraar Sociale Psychologie aan de Universiteit van Amsterdam
Herman Roodenburg, bijzonder hoogleraar Historische antropologie en etnologie van Europa, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam en Meertens Instituut, KNAW.

17.00u Feestelijke borrel op de twaalfde verdieping bij de koffietafel

In verband met de catering vragen wij u vriendelijk zich aan te melden voor de presentatie met dit online formulier.

Lecture by Ute Frevert

Emotions in History: Lost and Found

A lecture by Prof. dr. Ute Frevert
Director of the Center for the History of Emotions, Max Planck Institut, Berlin

ACCESS, VU University Amsterdam, 22 March 2012, 16.00 hrs, room 12A-00

Please register here to attend.

Emotions are historically informed. Even though men and women may have always felt and shown emotions, those have differed in style, object, intensity, and valence. While certain emotions got lost in history, other ones rose to prominence, depending on political incentives, social challenges, and cultural choices. For instance, in European societies, honour and shame practices have fundamentally changed over the course of modernity, gradually losing their grip on people’s self-perceptions and attitudes. At the same time, compassion and empathy have become crucial components of the modern ’emotional self’. Although they have motivated a plethora of humanitarian activities and institutions, they have also been hampered by severe obstacles and seen periods of dramatic decline.

Ute Frevert is one of the most outstanding European historians of our time. Famous for her research on gender and on honour and shame, winner in 1998 of the prestigious Leibniz Prize, and having taught at the universities of Berlin, Konstanz, Bielefeld and Yale, she is now Director of the Center for the History of Emotions at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin.

15.30 – 16.00   Welcome / coffee & tea
16.00 – 17.15   Lecture & discussion
17.15-18.00     Reception/ drinks

If you wish to attend this lecture, please register by completing this form before 15 March 2012.

Transmission of Emotions: An Interdisciplinary Symposium

Friday 10 February 2012, 12.30-17.30 hrs
VU University Amsterdam, Aurorazaal

‘The business of understanding the transmission of affect, in terms of theory, science, and practice, has barely begun’
– Teresa Brennan, The Transmission of Affect (2004)

How and why do we sense and share the emotions of others? The question of how we are moved by the feelings of others has long remained largely unexplored in psychology, neurology, and language research. It is only recently that various disciplines have begun to unravel the mechanisms of empathy, emotional contagion, and the operations of affect in watching a film or reading a novel.

This interdisciplinary symposium brings together three scientists who explore the transmission of emotions from different disciplinary perspectives: neurology, social psychology and psycholinguistics. Their lectures will introduce current knowledge of the transmission of emotion in these three fields. The symposium seeks to encourage interdisciplinary exchange on this broad-ranging topic so fundamental to understanding human interaction.

The speakers:

Christian Keysers (neurology): The emphatic brain

Agneta Fischer (social psychology): The regulation of social relations through emotional mimicry

Jos van Berkum (psycholinguistics): So what about emotion in language?

Registration closed on 25 January 2012

This event is organized by the Amsterdam Centre for Cross-Disciplinary Emotion and Sensory Studies, sponsored by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research and the Faculty of Arts, VU University.