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Emotions in 18th century Everyday Life: Class, gender, and godliness in Pehr Stenberg’s autobiography

Research project Pehr Stenberg (1758-1824), a Swedish peasant son, during some forty years created a unique document, his “life description”. In print it amounts to some 1900 pages. It reflects his social climbing from the countryside, via university studies in Åbo, to become a minister in his home region.

It is rich in details not only in descriptions of milieus but also about his own emotions in and towards the situations he experiences. The aim of the project is to study how late 18th century everyday experiences of class differences, gender positioning, and Christian faith and world-view was registered and interpreted in terms of emotions in Stenberg’s autobiography. This will be done in three studies. One deals with how his peasant background influences his relations to bourgeoisie and nobility, and as a minister in interaction with a country parish. Another study deals with his love relations as a private teacher with Åbo nobility and as a priest on the small-town matrimonial market in Umeå. One deals with his interpretations of the will of God as a force in his and others’ lives, where peasant piety, theology and enlightenment ideas meet. The intersectional relations between his roles as a peasant son, a man and a priest will be discussed through narrative analysis. Since current international research on the history of emotions almost exclusively has focused on members of the middle and upper classes, this project will provide a valuable addition to the research frontier.

Head of project

Project overview

Project period:

Start date: 2019-01-01

Participating departments and units at Umeå University

Department of Culture and Media Studies, Department of Historical, Philosophical and Religious studies

Research area

Ethnology