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Valérie De Courville Nicol, PhD

Professor, Sociology and Anthropology


PhD Sociology (Carleton University)
MA Sociology (University of Ottawa)

Research interests

1. Comparative analyses of distinct social economies of fear and desire (i.e. of the dynamic organization and distribution of emotional positions within large sociocultural formations and of the smaller formations within them). For me this involves making sense of the various ways in which individuals exercise embodied forms of autonomy (or fail to do so) through the lens of a perspective I call 'embodied in/capacity theory'. I am especially interested in exploring the factors that promote the increased prevalence and intensification of anxious experience in contemporary socioemotional formations. 

2. Processes of emotional socialization and their relationship to emotional regulation and emotion management (i.e. the processes through which what we fear and desire, how we fear and desire, and what we do when we fear or desire come into being, as well as the constitution of the signs of danger and security that trigger these experiences). To access these processes I have been developing a method I call 'emotional discourse analysis'.

3. Campaigns of fear and desire and other forms of emotion management (i.e. rhetorical and other morally-driven efforts to act upon others' actions through emotional means, including risk management of self and other, of individuals and populations).

4. Popular forms of literature that seek to manage the moral dangers associated with immoral experiences of fear or of desire (i.e. 18th and 19th century gothic literature; self-help books dealing with problems of subjectivity, especially anxiety and stress; and contemporary dystopian fiction). I am currently working on a book on social forms of anxiety and self-help literature. In the near future, I plan to explore the emotionally normative and emotionally creative dimensions of popular expressions of dystopian fiction for youth.

5. Psychological and other therapeutic discourses and practices pertaining to emotional health and pathology and their relationship to collective forms of suffering and wellbeing.

Teaching activities

Courses / Syllabi

Areas of undergraduate teaching:

1. Sociology of emotions
2. Sociology of fear and risk
3. Sociology of literature
4. Classical social theory
5. Sociology of culture

Areas of graduate teaching:

1. Self and subjectivity
2. Contemporary theory
3. Sociology of culture

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