Friday, Dec 7, 2007, 5 PM
Filmhaus am Potsdamer Platz, Potsdamer Str. 2, 10785 Berlin

Peter N. Stearns

Professor of History, George Mason University, Fairfax, Va.

Recent Trends in American Cool

The paper sums up the efforts to establish a restrained emotional style in the United States toward the middle of the 20th century, particularly in work settings and in child rearing. The paper then focuses on adjustments and elaborations in this culture during the past five decades. It deals with efforts to modify undue restraint, in areas like grief; with social and cultural divisions based on power relationships and ethnic subcultures; with the vital trend of greater media guidance for emotional experiences – the »mediaization« of emotion. At the same time, efforts to maintain or even increase the rigor of emotional control also developed, confirming the basic culture of cool even with the additional complexities. »Cool« remains a successful watchword in American emotional culture both in private life and in public discourse.

Peter N. Stearns is Provost of the George Mason University in Fairfax and a member of the History department. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard University and has worked on various projects in cultural-social history, including body imagery, gender and emotional standards. Among other activities in several organizations, he is a member of the International Society for Research on Emotion and chair of the Advanced Placement World History committee. Selected publications: American Cool. Constructing a Twentieth-Century Emotional Style (1994); American Fear. The Causes and Consequences of High Anxiety (2006); Childhood in World History (2006); Revolutions in Sorrow (2007).

The event will be held in English