Making a scene: the problem of embarrassability in rough and tumble times

16 October 2012, 17:00 - 19:00

CRASSH, Seminar room SG2, Ground floor

Prof Bill Miller  (History/Law, Michigan)


Is human social interaction possible without at least the possibility of embarrassment for glitches, incompetences. Do we tempt embarrassment, for the fun of it, for seeing how well people can recover? Wow are we to find embarrassment in the historical record if the sources are reticent? Is it because it is not felt, or so obvious it need not be discussed, except by the most discreet of hints?  This paper discusses a couple well-known scenes from the Icelandic sagas in which we would expect mentions of the embarrassment and discomfort experienced by the assembled guests as one among their number makes a scene, but in fact find no overt mention of anyone's embarrassment. Perhaps my paper or your comments could give us another primary source, as we try to must the poise and tact to handle each other's failures of competence and comportment. 

 

 

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Part of the History and Anthropology seminar series.
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