Valeria Sobol


On her book Febris Erotica: Lovesickness in the Russian Literary Imagination

Cover Interview of September 16, 2009


When I first embarked on this project, at its early dissertation stage, my advisors urged me to make sure not to look like “yet another girl who is writing about love.”  Indeed, in our society that takes pride in its rational and pragmatic ethos, the study of emotions, love among them, could be viewed as academically questionable and intellectually inferior.  I hope that this book demonstrates how intellectually engaging it can be to study the cultural constructions of emotions.  Even the most inward feelings are inextricably entwined with social, public, and historical matters, and are subject to cultural interpretation.

The attitude to the study of emotions began to change in the last couple of decades, with what has been labeled an “affective turn” or “emotional turn” in the humanities and social studies.  Since this turn, a number of conferences have been dedicated to emotions, and books have been written on the subject by anthropologists, historians, sociologists, psychologists, literary scholars and representatives of other disciplines.

Febris Erotica contributes to this growing body of research—and it also brings together several disciplines, showing how a focused analysis of literary representations of a canonical emotional distress leads to new insights concerning some fundamental cultural anxieties and preoccupations.

© 2009 Valeria Sobol