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The idea to create a society for the study of medieval emotions came about when Hailey and Stephen met for the first time at the Leeds IMC in 2019. Over a series of coffees and lunches, the two began brainstorming how they might better connect like-minded scholars and individuals who were interested in studying emotions in the medieval period. SSME was their answer. The aim of SSME is, therefore, above all to provide a network of communication for those actively researching, or interested in beginning the study of, medieval emotions. SSME will also organise events that encourage continued research in the field, and provide a platform for correspondence amongst our diverse membership. While Hailey and Stephen are both based in the UK, SSME is not bound by geographic restrictions. We have members all across the globe - and this makes us very happy!

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Co-President & Founder of SSME

Hailey O’Harrow is a 3rd year PhD in Medieval Studies at the University of St Andrews. She received her Master's in Medieval Literature from the University of York (2015), and her Bachelor's in English Literature, with a minor in Medieval Studies, from Portland State University (2013). The History of Emotions captured her interest in 2014, when a colleague introduced her to the passionate tale of Raoul de Cambrai. Hailey’s current project introduces a new methodology to the field that allows for comparative emotional analysis between different geographic, linguistic, generic, and chronological traditions, thereby offering scholars valuable insights into the multiple and varied cultural value systems of past societies. 

Given her background in literature, Hailey’s approach to the History of Emotions is inherently linguistic. She is particularly intrigued by the language of emotions as represented in literature: the nouns, verbs, and adjectives of emotions, the gestures and idiomatic phrases which convey emotion. She is, moreover, interested in how these building blocks of ‘emotional language’ function within the socio-political framework of a text, and what that can tell us about the text's cultural value system. Her source material varies widely, from chansons de gestes to liturgical rites.

Stephen Spencer profile.JPG


Co-President & Founder of SSME

Stephen J. Spencer holds a BA in History and MA in Islam and the West from Queen Mary University of London, where he also completed his PhD. Stephen is currently a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow (2019–22) at King’s College London, conducting research on information dissemination and the memorialisation of the Third Crusade in western Europe before 1300. Prior to this, he was a Past & Present Postdoctoral Fellow (2017–19) at the Institute of Historical Research, University of London, and a Postdoctoral Research Assistant (2016–17) on the ‘1217: The Making of Medieval England Project’ – a collaborative research project between QMUL and The National Archives. 

Much of Stephen’s research to date has centred on the emotional rhetoric of crusading, the topic of his forthcoming book with Oxford University Press, Emotions in a Crusading Context, 1095–1291. He has also published several shorter pieces on that theme, including an article on representations of Richard the Lionheart’s anger in The English Historical Review (2017), another on the emotional content of Odo of Deuil’s De profectione Ludovici VII in Orientem in Historical Research (2019), and a book chapter on emotional characterisations of Muslims in western narratives of the crusades (2018).

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Membership of SSME is free! To become a member, please fill out a membership form. You will be added to our email distribution list. 

For any society related queries, please contact

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May 31 - June 1 2022 - University of St Andrews

Call for Papers


Emotions & Law

Call for Papers

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