Period of residence: 
14 septembre 2015 - 13 juillet 2016 - Résidence EURIAS
Research project: 
Scientific Concepts of Emotion and Cultural Identies in Medicine, Social Science, and Film
Summary of the research project: 

The project investigates (a) the scientific concepts of emotion that psychomedical research has produced between 1950 and 2000, and (b) if and how these concepts have informed emotional culture and identity in post-industrial societies in Western Europe—assessed through cultural productions such as film.

The innovative character of the project lies in the transdisciplinary approach that integrates expertise in psycho-medical research into current historical and cultural debate. Research in emotion is a vibrant field both in the bio-psycho-medical sciences and in the social sciences and humanities. The dominant approach in the history of emotion presumes that emotions are either biological and, as such, not interesting to historical analysis or that they are social and the biologically based theories of emotion get it wrong because they ignore historical complexities. Overall, few studies put these two approaches in dialogue with each other. Either the cultural embeddedness of emotions is studied or emotion is studied on the level of the individual— within the person, as a liminal phenomenon or on a systems level in neuroscience. However, a scientific understanding of emotion and an analysis of cultural concepts of emotional identities are mutually dependent upon each other and need to be studied together. Theories on emotion are still missing a comprehensive approach that brings together the biological in connection with the social and cultural context. The project takes an innovative stance on how scientific studies of emotion and cultural analysis of societal change and of processes and dynamics of identity formation can be studied as mutually dependent variables. It addresses interdisciplinarity--history of science, cultural anthropology, cinema studies--and multicultural methodology. Methodologically, the project has two components: (a) Quantitative and qualitative content analysis of: scientific communications (journal articles and conference proceedings) in the psycho-medical, social sciences and humanities discourses as well as a number of advertising texts with regard to the main trope frequencies; (b) comparing this analysis with the representation of emotion and identity in (audio-visual) media production.

Claudia Wassmann will interact with the laboratories of the 3 C Federation and continue working on how scientific concepts of emotion have influenced cultural conceptions of identity in twentieth-century Europe through the lens of audio-visual media productions.


Lien(s) web: 

Claudia Wassmann is a historian of science working on emotion, medicine and media. She authored numerous TV documentaries for German Public Television. She holds an MD from Free University of Berlin and a PhD in history (University of Chicago 2005). She was a Dewitt Stetten, Jr., Memorial Fellow in the History of Biomedical Sciences and Technology at the NIH and a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for the History of Emotions, Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin; and a Marie Curie Fellow at the Institute for Culture and Society, University of Navarra, Spain. She published Die Macht der Emotionen (2002; 2010) and edited Therapy and Emotions in Film and Television: The Pulse of Our Times (2015).


Curriculum Vitae: