Empathy, Sympathy, and Other Minds (MLA 2012, proposal deadline 3/6/11)

full name / name of organization: 
Meghan Hammond / New York University
contact email: 

This is a proposed special session for the 2012 MLA convention in Seattle. Empathy and sympathy are capacious terms that have rich and overlapping conceptual histories in philosophy, psychology, aesthetics, and political thought. This panel will explore the ties between empathy/sympathy and the epistemological concerns of literature. What solutions, and problems, do empathy and sympathy introduce to the production of knowledge of the world (especially knowledge of other minds)? What do empathy and sympathy have to do with representational difficulty? How do they influence narrative or poetic innovation? Proposals for papers on any literary period or genre are welcome. Interdisciplinary and cognitive approaches are particularly welcome.

Please send a 250-word abstract and CV (Word or pdf) by March 6 to Meghan Hammond at mmh340@nyu.edu. Presenters must be MLA members by April 7, 2011.