Taken from the fall 2006 course catalog of the Osher Lifelong
Learning Institute at George Mason University in Virginia.
The instructor, Peter N. Stearns, Provost of George Mason University,
regularly teaches courses in world history and social history. Dr. Stearns
founded and continues to serve as editor-in-chief of the Journal of
Social History. Author or editor of more than 90 books, his three recent
books include American Behavioral History, Childhood in World History,
and American Fear.
This course will introduce the idea of the history of emotions, with
particular reference to fear. The initial session will discuss several
examples of emotion’s history, including fear.
The second session will discuss contemporary manifestations of American
fear, and why so many writers are now dealing with fear as a current
The third session will explore the 20th century history of fear as
part of the explanation of current emotions, along with other factors
including media manipulation.
The final session will explore consequences and possible remedies.
This is an important but highly debatable topic, and the course will
suggest lines of analysis while remaining open to discussion at every