ABOUT THIS BOOK
What is a hostile environment? How exactly can feelings be mixed? What on earth might it mean when someone writes that he was “happily situated” as a slave? The answers, of course, depend upon whom you ask.
Science and the humanities typically offer two different paradigms for thinking about emotion—the first rooted in brain and biology, the second in a social world. With rhetoric as a field guide, Uncomfortable Situations establishes common ground between these two paradigms, focusing on a theory of situated emotion. Daniel M. Gross anchors the argument in Charles Darwin, whose work on emotion has been misunderstood across the disciplines as it has been shoehorned into the perceived science-humanities divide. Then Gross turns to sentimental literature as the single best domain for studying emotional situations. There’s lost composure (Sterne), bearing up (Equiano), environmental hostility (Radcliffe), and feeling mixed (Austen). Rounding out the book, an epilogue written with ecological neuroscientist Stephanie Preston provides a different kind of cross-disciplinary collaboration. Uncomfortable Situations is a conciliatory work across science and the humanities—a groundbreaking model for future studies.