This was probably the most productive day for me, due to a small epiphany I experienced at a talk given by Jonathan Couser concerning emotionality (or evidently more often the lack of it) in the letters of St Boniface. He spoke of Barbara Rosenwein’s concept of “emotional communities,” and asked if one might be able to contemplate a “history of the emotions” for the Middle Ages. Patrick Geary mentioned separate rhetorics involved with modes of emotional expression—for a rough example: one might choose a different vocabulary when one talks with teachers or priests. I had an interesting conversation with Jonathan at lunchtime the next day to refine the matter a bit.
I had written and also presented (at a Medieval Association of the Pacific conference in Santa Clara last year) about the “poems of male friendship” and the homoerotic imagery richly, indeed outrageously present in the letters of Carolingian churchmen. It occurred to me that I could revisit this whole topic conceptually in terms of an existing emotional community, which from my perspective is doubtless the most blatantly emotional within the entire E.M.A.
In the afternoon on to Fred Astren’s paper on the activities of rabbis in the medieval Mediterranean, followed by a whole bunch of other interesting stuff.