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 problem.

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 point.








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