Genealogies of Emotions, Intimacies, and Desire: Theories of Changes in Emotional Regimes from Medieval Society to Late Modernity, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Genealogies of Emotions, Intimacies, and Desire

Theories of Changes in Emotional Regimes from Medieval Society to Late Modernity, 1st Edition

By Ann Brooks


164 pages | 1 B/W Illus.

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pub: 2016-10-11
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Genealogies of Emotions, Intimacies and Desire excavates epistemologies which attempt to explain changes in emotional regimes from medieval society to late modernity. Key in this debate is the concept of intimacy. The book shows that different historical periods are characterized by emotional regimes where intimacy in the form of desire, sex, passion, and sex largely exist outside marriage, and that marriage and traditional normative values and structures are fundamentally incompatible with the expression of intimacy in the history of emotional regimes.

The book draws on the work of a number of theorists who assess change in emotional regimes by drawing on intimacy including Michel Foucault, Eva Illouz, Lauren Berlant, Anthony Giddens, Laura Ann Stoler, Anne McClintock, Niklas Luhmann and David Shumway. Some of the areas covered by the book include: Foucault, sex and sexuality; romantic and courtly love; intimacy in late modernity; Imperial power, gender and intimacy, intimacy and feminist interventions; and the commercialization of intimacy.

This book will appeal to students and scholars in the social sciences and humanities, including sociology, gender studies, cultural studies, and literary studies.


"Genealogies of Emotions, Intimacies and Desire" is a lucid and comprehensive overview of recent attempts to write the history of these aspects of human existence that are often thought to be eternal. The theories Brooks is concerned with all agree that love and intimacy are different in different times and places, but they disagree about how and why. Brooks explains these theories and explores their differences. A useful text for postgraduate courses and for anyone seeking to understand these influential theories, "Genealogies of Emotions, Intimacies and Desire" is the first study to bring these related theories together to be considered side by side.

David R. Shumway, Professor of English, and Literary and Cultural Studies, Carnegie Mellon University.

Author of Modern Love: Romance, Intimacy, and the Marriage Crisis (2003) and Rock Star: The Making of Cultural Icons from Elvis to Springsteen (2014).

This is a thought-provoking and enjoyable publication and Ann Brooks makes a valuable contribution to a feminist sociology of emotion, intimacy and desire. The book provides a scholarly, in-depth study of the field by drawing skillfully on Foucault’s genealogy of sexuality, applying his methdology whilst engaging with other key feminist thinkers in the field such as Lauren Berlant, to explore shifting discourses and patterns of intimacy from the Greeks and Romans through to Medieval society and then through to the cult of Romantic love and its commodification in the 20th Century and beyond. Brooks also discusses the shaping of sexuality and desire in relation to postcolonialism and contemporary constructions of sexuality within the latemodern context, where discourses of reflexivity create new modes of intimacy that are mixed in a complicated way with hope and cynicism and the unsettling of old gendered positions. This book is a timely publication and recommended for students and researchers engaging with the sociology of emotions and intimacy.

Candida Yates, Professor of Culture and Communication, Bournemouth University.

Author of The Play of Political Culture, Emotion and Identity. (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015).

Table of Contents

Foreword. Foucault’s History of Sexuality – the Production of Sexual Discourses in Classical Antiquity and Beyond. David Konstan

Introduction – What’s Love Got to do with it?

1. Genealogies of Emotions, Intimacy and Desire: Theories of Changes in Emotional Regimes from Medieval Society to Late Modernity.

2. Foucault’s Genealogy of Sexuality –Foucault, Sex and Power.

3. Narratives of Romantic Love – The History of Courtly Love.

4. "Mapping Intimacy Through Sex in Twentieth Century Colonial Cultures" – Laura Ann Stoler and Anne McClintock.

5. Love and Intimacy in Late Modernity –The Transformation of Intimacy.

6. "The Intelligence of Emotions": Intimacy, Emotions and the "Turn to Affect" – Feminist Interventions.

7. Intimacy, Emotions and the Public Sphere: From Sentimental Ideology to "The Queen of America"- the Public and the Private in the Work of Lauren Berlant.

8. Conclusion

About the Author

Ann Brooks is Professor of Sociology at Bournemouth University, UK.

About the Series

Routledge Studies in Social and Political Thought

This series explores core issues in political philosophy and social theory. Addressing theoretical subjects of both historical and contemporary relevance, the series has broad appeal across the social sciences. Contributions include new studies of major thinkers, key debates and critical concepts.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Feminism & Feminist Theory
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / Marriage & Family
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Women's Studies


James Gillray: ‘Fashionable Contrasts; - or - the Duchess’s little shoe yielding to the magnitude of the Duke’s foot’, originally published by Hannah Humphrey on January 24, 1792. Frontispiece of book.