Polity’s Press’s “What is History?” series asks leading practitioners to summarize the principal methods, findings, and interventions of important sub-disciplines in the historical field. Rosenwein and Cristiani’s welcome volume addresses the currently thriving sub-discipline of the history of emotions. Rosenwein, a prominent contributor to the field, and her co-writer offer four succinct chapters, framed by a concise introduction and conclusion, creating a helpful “map,” as they describe it, for anyone seeking a general introduction to the field.

After briefly tracing the relatively recent emergence of “emotions” as a specific category of analysis in the nineteenth century out of such older conceptions as the passions, Rosenwein and Cristiani’s first chapter treats the principal scientific theories that were developed to explain them—from those of Darwin and James to the more recent interventions of social constructivists and social-affect theorists.1 To a large extent, historians must still reckon with these theories even as...

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