HomeEmpathy and the Aesthetics of Language

HomeEmpathy and the Aesthetics of Language

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Published on Thursday, September 14, 2023


For three decades, the question of the role played by empathy in the aesthetic apprehension of language, and notably in the experience of literature, has been the topic of a growing number of studies. A joint project of the University of Parma, Aix-Marseille University and the University of Texas at Austin, this two-day webinar brings together thirteen experts – philosophers, literary theorists, neuroscientists, psychologists, historians – whose contributions will be published in two special issues of Texas Studies for Literature and Language (TSLL). Taken together, the talks proposed aim at offering an updated and encompassing discussion of recent, but also older research in the field. The webinar intends to address the question of empathy and the aesthetics of language from a cross-disciplinary and cross-methodological perspective, by giving room to both theoretical and empirical approaches and tackling the concept of empathy in all its semantic diversity.



The place of empathy in the aesthetic experience of language and literature, the nature and variety of literary and narrative empathy, the involvement of aesthetic empathy in reading, hearing, speaking, and writing, the role of emotions/feelings in literary empathetic experience, the empathological reassessment of narratological categories, and the early 20th-century origins of literary empathy studies are some of the core issues that will be discussed.

Admission is free, and registration for this event is not required.

Organizers: Vittorio Gallese, David Romand, and Hannah Wojciehowski


Thursday, October 5th 

15.00 – 15.20  Introduction: Vittorio Gallese, David Romand, & Hannah Wojciehowski

15.20 – 15.40  Michele Cometa (Università degli Studi di Palermo) : “Literarische Einfühlung: A Reappraisal”

15.40 – 16.00  Renata Gambino & Grazia Pulvirenti (Università di Catania) : “The Gorgon-Effect: Reported Emotions, Empathy, and Aesthetic Pleasure”

16.00 – 16.20  Discussion, followed by Break

16.40 – 17.00  Jana Lüdtke (Freie Universität Berlin) : “Ridding into the Dark: Mood Empathy while Reading Prose and Poetry From Dark Romanticism”

17.00 – 17.20  Hannah Wojciehowski (University of Texas at Austin) : “The Scapegoat: Social Death and Narrative Empathy”

17.20 – 17.40  Discussion, followed by Break

18.00 – 18.20  Shaun Gallagher (University of Memphis) : “Writing Empathy into the Script: From Jane Austen to J. L. Austin”

18.20 – 19.00  Discussion and Summary

Friday, October 6th 

15.00 – 15.20  Siri Hustvedt (Weill Cornell Medicine) : “Empathy, Atmosphere, and the Riddle of the Between.”

15.20 – 15.40  Christiana Werner (Justus-Liebig-Universität Giessen) : “Empathic Scaffolding. How Literary Ways of Writing about Experiences Improves Empathy.”

15.40 – 16.00  Discussion, followed by Break

16.20 – 16.40  Thomas Petraschka (Universität Regensburg) : “How Early 20th-Century Art and Literature Reacted to Theories About Empathy”

16.40 – 17.00  Serge Tchougounnikov (Université de Bourgogne) : “Empathy and Literary Form within Russian Formalism”

17.00 – 17.20  Discussion, followed by Break

17.40 – 18.00  Vittorio Gallese (Università degli Studi di Parma) & David Romand (Aix-Marseille Université) : “Literary Empathy: A Neurophenomenological Approach”

18.00 – 18.20  Suzanne Keen (Scripps College) : Concluding Talk: “Narrative Empathy as Animator of the Inanimate”

18.20 – 19.00 Discussion and Conclusion

Login information

TEAMS link: http://tinyurl.com/yeyp8rn4

Or call in (audio only)

Event attendance modalities

Full online event


  • Thursday, October 05, 2023
  • Friday, October 06, 2023


  • empathy, aesthetics, language, literature, theory of mind, narratology, emotions,


  • David Romand
    courriel : david [dot] romand [at] univ-amu [dot] fr

Information source

  • David Romand
    courriel : david [dot] romand [at] univ-amu [dot] fr


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« Empathy and the Aesthetics of Language », Conference, symposium, Calenda, Published on Thursday, September 14, 2023, https://calenda.org/1095088

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