Emotions and U.S. Foreign Policy: An Exploratory Seminar Series -- Second Session

Matthieu Vallières Discussion
April 21, 2023 to May 12, 2023
Ontario, Canada
Subject Fields: 
American History / Studies, Diplomacy and International Relations, Psychology, Social History / Studies, Cultural History / Studies

Emotions and U.S. Foreign Policy: An Exploratory Seminar Series

An invitation to participate in our second virtual session featuring Andrew (Andy) Rotter on April 21 from 12-2pm (EDT). This session will focus on the relevance of the senses to the study of empire.

Why this series?

A number of historians in Canada have been developing a collaborative project exploring the relevance of emotions to U.S. foreign policy. We believe strongly that recent scholarship on emotions significantly enriches analysis of policymaking and public perceptions – by moving, for example, beyond the strictly cognitive processes that animate Realpolitik perspectives. We also believe that this so-called “emotional turn” has the potential to be even more powerfully transformative to understandings of both past and present developments.

We have now started to expand our conversations to include others. Our inaugural session featured Frank Costigliola uncovering the fascinating impact of George Kennan’s emotional life on his worldview and policies. A recording of this first session can be made available to registered participants. Our next two sessions—first with Andy Rotter and then with Nicole Eustace (May 12 from 12-2pm EDT)—promise to bring similarly fascinating insights drawn from their work in the terrain of emotions history. Our hope is that these Zoom conversations will not only draw in others who are open to being informed and even inspired but also allow us to create a group (a network?) of scholars whose individual and collaborative efforts might move in exciting directions.

Each two-hour seminar begins with a presentation by the guest speaker, moving from comments about a brief reading “assignment” (distributed in advance) to reflections on the speaker’s experiences and insights regarding emotions history. The bulk of the session then involves Q&A and discussion of both the speaker’s work and wider-ranging issues related to the relevance of emotions to U.S. foreign policymaking.

Although the focus of the series is on the past and potential contributions of historians, the organizers want to emphasize that their own preceding explorations have been richly informed by the work of political scientists, sociologists, anthropologists, psychologists, and feminist scholars. Students and scholars from a range of fields are very welcome in what is likely to remain a multi-disciplinary endeavor.

Participation in the seminar series is free, though registration is required. (This will allow distribution of readings and communication regarding ongoing seminar activities – including additional sessions in the future.) Spaces will be limited to facilitate conversation. If you have previously registered you do not need to do so again. Please send your questions to matthieu.vallieres@utoronto.ca. Register by visiting: https://forms.gle/qWLDoCrq2Gh1oR5D6

This series is organized in cooperation with the Centre for the Study of the United States at the Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy/University of Toronto. Members of the organizing group include: Will McFadden, Will Riddell, Ron Pruessen, Candace Sobers, Matt Vallieres (Chair).


Contact Info: 

Matthieu Vallières

Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of History, University of Toronto