Contesting Empathy

Suzanne Keen

in Empathy and the Novel

Published in print May 2007 | ISBN: 9780195175769
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199851232 | DOI:
Contesting Empathy

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This chapter argues that the evidence for a relationship between narrative empathy and the prosocial motivation of actual novel readers does not support the grand claims often made on behalf of empathy. It suggests that if narrative empathy is to be understood, all genres of fiction and all kinds of readers should be taken into consideration. It explains that it will not suffice to rely on the assertions of authors, on introspection, or on personal conviction to prove that reading certain canonical works of fiction inevitably yields the cultural and civic good of altruism and engaged world citizenship.

Keywords: narrative empathy; prosocial motivation; novel readers; fiction; altruism; world citizenship

Chapter.  11506 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (19th Century)

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