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Empathy and the Novel$
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Suzanne Keen

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780195175769

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195175769.001.0001

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Contesting Empathy

Contesting Empathy

Chapter:
(p.144) (p.145) 6 Contesting Empathy
Source:
Empathy and the Novel
Author(s):

Suzanne Keen

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195175769.003.0006

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

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