This talk begins with the complexities of defining shame, as both an individual and social emotion that is variously contested in many contemporary societies. It discusses the extensive reliance on shame of most if not all traditional societies, and the various devices used to enforce it. It emphasizes the strong deterrent effect that resulted -- shame was more important as deterrent than punishment. The lecture then turns to the attack on shame as an affront to individual dignity and a cruel punishment, that resulted from the new values of the Enlightenment in Western societies on both sides of the Atlantic. Traditional shaming devices, like pillories, were outlawed, and efforts were made to reduce shame in childrearing and in schools. This effort has continued into recent decades, with campaigns against various forms of individual and group shaming. However, it has proved impossible fully to eliminate shaming, and new shaming impulses have arisen in various contemporary situations -- further spurred, recently, by the shaming potential of social media. The lecture closes with the resultant tensions over shaming in contemporary society and the possibility of using the historical record to take a more nuanced approach to the emotion.



Shame, Vergüenza