Anna Wainwright

ITAL 444C (Honors). “Feelings: A Cultural History”

"Feelings: A Cultural History,” charts the history of emotions from the ancient world to the present day, with a particular focus on Italy and the United States, and explores how feelings inform our political and cultural understanding of the world around us. Students will ask: "What is the history of emotions?" and "How do emotions shape culture and society?" Feelings have long been at the heart of artistic expression, and they play a central role in religion, politics, and culture. They seem personal, but they are also universal, and they impact not just individuals, but communities, politics, and society at large. For “We Hold These Truths,” each student will be charged with investigating the concept of “truth” as it relates to primary material in the course: the different perspectives in William Shakespeare’s Othello and Toni Morrison’s Desdemona; the political speeches of Mussolini and Hitler. Are emotions always “true”? Who gets to decide? Students may explore a particular emotion; how emotions are exploited by political leaders; whose emotions are considered “truth”; etc.