How might the experience of reading have participated in the formation of emotional communities in late medieval England? This question draws us into long-standing debates over whether “emotion” is “inherent” or “socially constituted,”1 and more specifi cally, over the role of discourse in articulating or constructing self-experience.2 These debates intersect with competing frameworks for understanding subjectivity as either an embodied or a cognitive phenomenon,3 as well as for considering the extent to which selfhood is historically specifi c.4 Norbert Elias’s theory of social process provides a deceptively simple model of subject formation within which these issues are dynamically interrelated not only to each other, but also to the social and communal contexts within which the subject is actualized: “what changes in the course of the process which we call history are, to reiterate, the reciprocal relationships, the fi gurations, of people and the moulding the individual undergoes within them.”5 The centrality of reciprocity to Elias’s theory of social process results in a conceptual structure for understanding community and society that is at once highly elastic, and grounded in a fundamental drive for connection among individuals.