Experimental Empathies: Forms of Fellow Feeling in U.S. Literature

Course Number: ENGL 165EE
Prerequisites: Check on GOLD
Advisory Enrollment Information: May be repeated for credit providing letter designations are different.
General Education Areas Fulfilled: GE Area G Requirement, Writing Requirement
Catalog Course Entry: ENGL 165AA-ZZ
Quarter: Spring 2020
Instructor: Waid, Candace
Day(s): TBD
Time: TBD
Location: TBD
Description:

This course explores narrative feeling and modes of evocation and provocation in 20th and 21st century literature. What is the difference between sympathy and empathy? If sympathy is putting oneself in another’s place and therefore self-centered, empathy is experienced through lived—read, viewed, and witnessed—narratives of relationships. Empathy challenges the carapace of narcissism and the gendering limits of individualism. Experimental Empathies introduces students to cognitive discourse on emotion in order to explore the relationship between empathy and storytelling. Does reading fiction make us better at recognizing and responding to others and to participatory emotions? How do cultural, socioeconomic, racial, and other differences complicate this form of human knowing? This course explores the ethics and aesthetics of empathy and the power of narration in film, photography, poetry, and fiction to parse how empathy operates across cultures, contexts, and mediums. We will analyze writers' strategies and readers' consciousness as experiments in “fellow” feeling and feeling fellowship—as experiments in empathy. Topics include compassion, empathy, enmity, and identification. Authors and auteurs include Charles Chesnutt, Lee Chang-dong, Joan Didion, William Faulkner, Terrence Hayes, Laila Lalami, Toni Morrison, Haruki Murakami, Suzan-Lori Parks, Edgar Allan Poe, and Tracy K. Smith. The readings will primarily be short works by these influential makers of evocative narration.