University of Connecticut

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The Empathy Imperative

Thursday, October 16, 2014
5:00pm – 6:30pm

Storrs Campus
217 Austin

The Empathy Imperative: Feeling with Others in the Humanities Classroom

A talk by Meghan Marie Hammond

Thursday, October 16, 2014, 5 p.m. Stern Lounge (Austin 217)

Last year, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences released a report defending the role that the humanities and social sciences play in the life of our nation. The report argues that these areas of study offer “the information and training that make empathy possible” and that empathy, in turn, “is critical for our national security, our domestic stability, and our economic competitiveness.” Meanwhile, recent experimental studies (Kidd and Castano, 2013; Bal and Veltkamp, 2013) suggest that reading fiction makes us more empathic. At a time when humanities departments are increasingly under pressure to justify their existence, the promise of empathy is extremely seductive. But should we be wary of an empathy imperative that lays the nation’s ethical responsibilities in our classrooms? Can we be sure that our work as teachers and scholars does indeed produce more empathic graduates? If we do foster empathy, can we rest assured that such empathy actually has positive effects in the world?

Meghan Marie Hammond teaches in the Humanities Core at University of Chicago. She is the author of Empathy and the Psychology of Literary Modernism (Edinburgh UP, 2014) and the co-editor of Rethinking Empathy through Literature (Routledge, 2014).

Sponsored by the Department of English, the Humanities Institute, and t he Research Program on Humanitarianism of the Human Rights Institute

Contact:

Prof. Yohei Igarashi - yohei.igarashi@uconn.edu

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (primary), English Department, Human Rights Institute, Humanities Institute, UConn Master Calendar

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