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Emotions: A Brief History Paperback – September 17, 2004

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Emotions: A Brief History + The Nature of Emotion: Fundamental Questions (Series in Affective Science)
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Editorial Reviews


“In this wide-ranging collection of essays, Keith Oatley synthesizes ancient and modern ideas about emotions, placing them in the context of history, development, and evolution. The author's lucid writing, sprinkled with examples drawn from an array of disciplines, will appeal to the specialist and general reader alike. Simply masterful!” W. Gerrod Parrott, Georgetown University

“Only Keith Oatley could have written a book of this type--a scholarly treatise on emotions that reads like a novel. With erudition and verve he contextualizes the scientific study of the emotions both in linguistic history and in the social context of life. The examples and literary case studies come fast and furious, but the book never overwhelms. It is a fast read but the ideas and themes linger to be savoured long after one is through.” Keith E. Stanovich, University of Toronto and author of The Robot's Rebellion: Finding Meaning in the Age of Darwin

“In this short history, Keith Oatley captures the current excitement of the ongoing ‘Affect Revolution’ and its historical antecedents. As psychologists seek to decipher the foundations of the many emotional values of animate existence, they should not forget the many historical roots from which the current blossoming of research is emerging. This gem helps put the field in perspective.” Jaak Panksepp, Bowling Green State University and author of Affective Neuroscience

“There are dozens of books on emotions these days, but none like Oatley's new work. This original, wide-ranging, erudite, yet accessible romp through the centuries of thought and feeling about emotion as encountered in literature, philosophy, religion, politics, history and anthropology, is a tour de force. A consummate work by one of the leaders in the field of emotions research, it is not only a scholarly work of tremendous breadth, but a literary achievement in its own right--Oatley is a master of the well-turned phrase and the work is rich in wry musings and penetrating insight.” Carol Magai, Long Island University, Brooklyn Campus

“Oatley's beautifully written book comes out of his deep knowledge both of the history of thought and of the most up-to-date research in the science of emotions… a masterly introduction to philosophical and scientific thinking about the emotions in personal and social life. It's all done with Oatley's characteristic lucidity, his light touch, and his novelist's gift for vivid illustration. …this book will afford fresh insights and original perspectives to delight even seasoned scholars.” Ronnie de Sousa, University of Toronto

"An extraordinarily erudite and well written book about all aspects of the emotions written by a leading cognitive psychologist. It ranges through evolutionary origins, emotional development (including EQ) and social aspects of emotions as reflected in both history and literature. References include the Brownings, Keats, Marcus Aurelius and Shakespeare while among the themes treated are emotions and the brain, emotional disorders and psychopharmacology. " The Scientific and Meidical Network

Book Description

Emotions explores the history of emotions in western and other cultures as well as the evolutionary history of emotions and the history of emotional development across an individual's lifespan. The book discusses key topics such as emotional intelligence, emotion and the brain, and emotional disorders in a clear and accessible fashion. Throughout the book, three themes are interwoven: the changes that human emotions have undergone from the past to the present, the extent to which we can control our emotions, and the ways in which emotions offer us understandings of the deeper layers of ourselves and our relationships with others.

More About the Author

Keith Oatley is professor emeritus of cognitive psychology at the University of Toronto. His research is on emotion, and on the psychology of fiction. He is the author of six books of psychology, most recently Such Stuff as Dreams: The Psychology of Fiction (2011, Wiley-Blackwell). He is also the author of three novels. The first of these--in which Sigmund Freud and Sherlock Holmes work on the same case--The Case of Emily V. (Secker & Warburg), won the Commonwealth Writers Prize (1994) for Best First Novel. His most recent novel Therefore Choose (2010, Goose Lane Editions) is about making choices when we can't predict the outcomes. Keith organizes and writes for a blog on the psychology of fiction, www.onfiction.ca and he reviews movies for PsycCritiques. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, and a Fellow of the British Psychological Society.

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