Emotional Experience and Microhistory: A Life Story of a Destitute Pauper Poet in the 19th Century, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Emotional Experience and Microhistory

A Life Story of a Destitute Pauper Poet in the 19th Century, 1st Edition

By Sigurður Gylfi Magnússon


192 pages | 18 B/W Illus.

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Hardback: 9780367359966
pub: 2020-05-19
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Emotional Experience and Microhistory explores the life and death of Magnús Hj. Magnússon through his diary, poetry and other writing, showing how best to use the methods of microhistory to address complicated historical situations.

The book deals with the many faces of microhistory and applies it’s methodology to the life of the Icelandic destitute pauper poet Magnús Hj. Magnússon (1892–1916). Having left his foster home at the age of 19 in 1892, he lived a peripatetic existence in an unstinting struggle with poor health, together with a ceaseless quest for a space to pursue writing and scholarship in accord with his dreams. He produced and accumulated a huge quantity of sources (autobiography, diary, poems, reflections) which are termed by the author as ‘egodocuments’. The book demonstrates how these egodocuments can be applied systematically, revealing unexpected perspectives on his life and demonstrating how integration of diverse sources can open up new perspectives on complex and difficult subjects. In so doing, the author offers an understanding both of how Magnússon’s story has been told, and how it can give insight into such matters as gender relations and sexual life, and the history of emotions.

Highlighting how the historiographical development of modern scholarship has shaped scholars’ ideas about egodocuments and microhistory around the world, the book is of great use and interest to scholars of microhistory, social and cultural modern history, literary theory, anthropology and ethnology.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations


Part I The Normal exceptions and Stories from the People

1. Creating a Story

2. Real People and Fictional Ones

3. The Individual and Microhistory

4. The Normal Exception

5. The Book

Part II Emotional Communities in the Life and Death of Magnús Hj. Magnússon

1. In Hostile Waters

2. A Harsh Life on the Farm of Hestur

3. Courtship

4. Matters of Life and Death

5. Matthildur’s Death and the Poets

6. Saved by the Salvation Army?

7. Rape: Wrongful Ruling?

8. The High Court

9. Two Contrasting Arguments – New Sources

10. Days of Hope and Fear

11. Eternal Life

Part III In the Company of Few

1. A Pointillist Portrait of a Person

2. The Conceptual Framework of Sex and Sexuality

3. Microhistory, Material Culture and Death

4. Fiction and Microhistory



About the Author

Sigurður Gylfi Magnússon is Professor of Cultural History and chair of the Department of History and Philosophy at the University of Iceland. He is also chair of the Center for Microhistorical Research. His latest books in English are What is Microhistory? Theory and Practice (2013) co-authored with István M. Szijártó, and Minor Knowledge and Microhistory (2017), co-authored with Davíð Ólafsson. He is the founder and an editor of the book series "The Anthology of Icelandic Popular Culture" (Sýnisbók íslenskrar alþýðumenningar) and also co-editor with István M. Szijártó of the series, Microhistories, published by Routledge.

About the Series


Microhistories is open to books employing different microhistorical approaches. Global microhistories aimed at grasping world-wide connections in local research, social history trying to find determining historical structures through a micro-analysis and cultural history in the form of microhistories that relate directly to large or small scale historical contexts are equally welcome. We will also publish interesting stories, bringing the everyday life and culture of common people of the past close to the readers, without the aspiration of finding answers to general "big questions" or relating them to the grand narratives of history. In other worlds, we plan to have the quality of the manuscript deciding its fate. The series is open to publishing both theoretical and empirical works. It is, indeed, often hard to separate the two, especially in microhistory. However, our main focus will be on empirical monographs which are likely to communicate stories from the past which will capture the imagination of our readers. The geographical scope of the series is global and so non- European works or those which cross territorial boundaries are welcome. Any scholar who wishes to contribute to the series will be asked to make sure that they address important issues that can be researched with the methods of microhistory.

For more information about the series and the proposal process, please contact the series editors, Sigurður Gylfi Magnússon ([email protected]) and István M. Szijártó ([email protected]).

The members of the editorial board are the following scholars: Andrew Bergerson, Simona Cerutti, Chuanfei Chin, Dagmar Freist, Carlo Ginzburg, Binne de Haan, Karl Jacoby, Giovanni Levi, Edward Muir, Matti Peltonen, Hans Renders, Jacques Revel, and Dana Sajdi.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General
HISTORY / Europe / Western
HISTORY / Historiography
HISTORY / Modern / 19th Century
HISTORY / Modern / 20th Century
HISTORY / Social History