Wednesday 29 October 2014, Paul White: ‘The Evolution of the Blush’

Paul White (Cambridge)

When: Wednesday 29 October 2014, 6:00 – 8:00pm

Where: Keynes Library, Birkbeck School of Arts, 46 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PD

The blush is an elusive expression, and one of the most intriguing. It is manifest in a wide range of emotions, even those that seem antithetical: a sign of shame or innocence, a vehicle of amorous attraction, a symptom of fear and danger. It is interrogated by a succession of disciplines, physiology, biology, sexology, and psychiatry, surviving as a reflex mechanism of self-attention, a pre-condition for the ritual of courtship, a product of sexual anxiety and objectification, and finally, a form of fear itself: erythrophobia. The narratological character of the blush is manifest in different forms (fiction, natural history, psychoanalysis). But this tendency to unfold as narrative coexists with another equally prevalent feature, namely its reduction to a purely physiological response, even one in which affect is entirely absent.

Listen to a recording of Paul White’s talk below:

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