CfP: „The Role of Empathy and Emotion in Understanding Fiction“, Göttingen (15.11.2016)

Call for Papers für die Spring School “The Role of Empathy and Emotion in Understanding Fiction” | Universität Göttingen

Deadline Abstract: 15. November 2016
Datum der Veranstaltung: 27.-31. März 2016

PhD students and Postdocs from the disciplines of philosophy, literary studies, and psychology/neurosciences are invited to submit applications to participate in the interdisciplinary Spring School “The Role of Empathy and Emotion in Understanding Fiction” to be held at Göttingen University, 27-31 March 2017.

The aim of this Spring School is to investigate the relationship between understanding and responding affectively to fictions from the perspectives of philosophy, literary studies, and psychology: do emotions and empathy play a decisive role in understanding fiction, and if so, how? Tackling this question poses challenges that are both theoretical and practical in nature. For example, there exist several competing theories in cognitive psychology and philosophy that conceptualize emotions and their affective and cognitive components differently, and these theories make different claims as to their empirical validity. Within literary studies it is customary to distinguish different levels of a literary work that may present themselves as objects of either empathy or the emotions, and there are different theoretical and methodological approaches to interpreting fictions accordingly. Any investigation of the role of empathy and the emotions in understanding fictions therefore has to combine theoretical and methodological know-how on both text analysis and reader responses. As philosophers, literary scholars and psychologists will take part in this Spring School, it will provide an opportunity for both empirically and theoretically oriented researchers to discuss how emotions and empathy can be said to play a decisive role in literary comprehension. Confirmed keynote speakers are Jenefer Robinson (University of Cincinnati), Suzanne Keen (Washington and Lee University), Melanie Green (The State University of New York), Gregory Currie (University of York), Derek Matravers (The Open University), Arthur Jacobs (Freie Universität Berlin).

Participants will also have the opportunity to present their own work. A more detailed description of the aims of the Spring School as well as a programme are available here:

To apply for participation, please submit a research abstract (up to 500 words) that demonstrates your interest in the topic of the Spring School. Please, also include a curriculum vitae. Participants who wish to present and discuss their own work are asked to include a short abstract of their presentation.

The deadline for submitting applications is November, 15, 2016. Please, send your application materials as a single PDF to Christiana Werner ( Decisions will be announced by December, 15, 2016. The number of participants is limited to 20. Accommodation, meals and refreshments as well as a subsidiary for travelling costs will be provided for participants. There will be provision for child care, both during the sessions and in the evenings.

For further questions please contact the organizers: Christiana Werner (; Tilmann Köppe (; Daniele Panizza (

The Spring School is funded by the VolkswagenStiftung.

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