Rethinking Empathy (edited volume, 10/1/2012 for proposals)

full name / name of organization: 
Meghan Marie Hammond and Sue J. Kim / NYU and UMass Lowell

Rethinking Empathy: What Literature Can Teach Us About Feeling With Others

Recent years have seen exciting developments on the topic of empathy in a number of fields including neuroscience, social psychology, and philosophy. We invite proposals for essays to be included in a collection on empathy and literature. We believe this volume will serve as an important contribution to a growing field of inquiry. The collection conceives of "literature" broadly to include the graphic novel. We are also open to other narrative media, such as film, television, and online media.

We welcome proposals that treat any genre of literature, but the focus of inquiry must be specifically empathy. While we will consider proposals for papers that analyze the conceptual and practical differences between empathy and sympathy, we will not entertain proposals for papers that focus exclusively on sympathy. Proposals for contributions that will treat postcolonial literature, ethnic U.S. literatures, or literature outside the Anglo-American tradition are especially welcome. While we are eager to read proposals by scholars working in languages other than English, all essays for the collection will be written in English.

Selected proposals will challenge common conceptions about empathy, asking readers to rethink what it is, what is does, and who is capable of performing it. Potential topics may include but are not limited to: the connections between empathy and violence, the relation between empathic structures and narrative structures, or the diversity of empathic forms (i.e. affective empathy, cognitive empathy, physical empathy). We encourage proposals for papers that make productive connections to other academic fields like psychology and neurobiology while maintaining a focus on literature.

Please send 500-word proposals for papers outlining subject, primary sources, and methodology to both Meg Hammond ( and Sue J. Kim ( by October 1, 2012. The editors will use accepted abstracts for a book proposal to be submitted to a respected university press. We anticipate that finished essays of approximately 7,500 words will be due by July 15, 2013. Please include along with your proposal a brief biographical statement of no more than 150 words outlining your credentials and publication history.