SAM Seminar: The Sublime: A Scientific Theory

When:22 Sep 2015, 5pm - 6:30pm
Venue:Robert Webster Building, Room 327
Who:David Huron, Ohio State University
David Huron

Distinguished International Visitor
September 2015

Peak human experiences can give you goose bumps, bring a tear to your eyes, take your breath away, or make you feel choked up. This presentation begins with the question: What do goose bumps, weeping, breath-holding, and constricted pharynx share in common? Curiously, there is a deep common physiological core to these responses, a core that accounts for the awe experienced when viewing a deep canyon, the giddy thrill of being touched by a potential romantic partner, the chills from listening to Beethoven, the pleasurable tears of winning a championship game, or the glorious terror of riding a roller coaster. Tracing the physiology and ethology of these responses, leads back to a theory of sublime emotions first proposed by the eighteenth century Irish philosopher, Edmund Burke. Burke argued that fear was an essential component of sublime experiences. In this talk, Burke's idea is expanded into a comprehensive scientific theory.


David Huron is Arts and Humanities Distinguished Professor at the Ohio State University, where he holds joint appointments in the School of Music and in the Center for Cognitive and Brain Sciences. Originally from Canada, Huron has held positions as an Associate Professor of Psychology and Adjunct Professor of Systems Design Engineering in addition to various faculty appointments in music. Over the course of his career he has produced some 130 publications, including two books. His book, Sweet Anticipation: Music and the Psychology of Expectation (MIT Press) received the 2007 Wallace Berry Award, and was identified by The Taruskin Challenge as a “must read” book in the field of musicology. Among other distinctions, Dr. Huron has been the Ernest Bloch Visiting Lecturer at the University of California, Berkeley, the Donald Wort Lecturer at Cambridge University, and the Astor Lecturer at Oxford. In addition to laboratory-based research, Prof. Huron has pursued field studies over the past decade in Micronesia.

Click here for information on Professor David Huron's other events at UNSW.


SAM Seminar Series 2015
Convenor, Collin Chua – c.chua@unsw.edu.au

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