The Journal of Literary Semantics has recently published a special issue on Stylistic Approaches to Narrative Empathy, guest edited by Carolina Fernandez-Quintanilla and myself (Fransina Stradling).
You can check it out here.
The special issue includes an introduction to the area of research and the special issue by the guest editors, followed by 6 excellent contributions that represent a range of stylistic approaches in a variety of text types, and an afterword by Prof Suzanne Keen. Below you can find short summaries of and links to each separate article.
Carolina Fernandez-Quintanilla & Fransina Stradling - Introduction
In the introduction to the special issue, the guest editors provide a nuanced definition of narrative empathy, review and synthesise the current body of research into language and narrative empathy, and introduce each of the articles.
Fransina Stradling & Kimberley Pager-McClymont - The Role of Pathetic Fallacy in Shaping Narrative Empathy
Fransina Stradling and Kimberley Pager-McClymont discuss the role of pathetic fallacy in shaping narrative empathy in Walker’s The Flowers. Using reader data from a think-aloud protocol, they find PF affords empathy depending on underlying metaphor, textual context and reader background.
Juliette Bourget - From witness to accomplice: the manipulation of readers’ empathy through consciousness representation in Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr Ripley
Juliette Bourget combines stylistic investigation with reader review data to examine how consciousness presentation in The Talented Mr Ripley invites readers to empathise with the novel’s morally flawed character. She argues that by insidiously presenting the hero’s behaviour as sensible and justified, the author of the novel persuades readers to become not only witnesses but accomplices to Ripley’s crimes.
Carmen Bonasera - Exploring the potential of sentiment analysis for the study of negative empathy
Carmen Bonasera explores the potential and vulnerabilities of sentiment and emotion analysis for the study of negative empathy, to appraise whether they should be added to the stylistic toolkit for studying textual potential for eliciting empathy. She illustrates her arguments with a whole load of colourful graphs, and argues that the methods under scrutiny are useful to study negative empathy.
Tatyana Karpenko-Seccombe - “The unlikeliest twins”: the role of intertextual foregrounding and defamiliarisation in creating empathy in Meursault, contre-enquête
Tatyana Karpenko-Seccombe draws on corpus stylistics to compare the impact of characterisation techniques and point of view presentation on empathy in two novels that rely on what she terms “intertextual foregrounding” for their experience and interpretation.
Julie Neveux - I fucking love you ! Emotional address in Fleabag , or how viewers’ empathy becomes voyeurism
Julie Neveux examines the effects of emotional language (e.g. swear words like f*cking) and telecinematic direct address in the BBC television series Fleabag on viewers’ empathetic engagement, showing how multimodal narratives can invite empathy.
Laure-Hélène Anthony-Gerroldt - Connecting with the world: poetic synaesthesia, sensory metaphors and empathy
In the final research contribution, Laure-Hélène Anthony-Gerroldt analyses sensory language in a variety of poems to argue that loading poetry with language that may elicit bodily sensations could stimulate readers’ empathic responses to poetry.
Suzanne Keen - Afterword: Refreshed Hypotheses
In her afterword, Suzanne Keen reflects on the contributions of each of the articles in this special issue to the study of narrative empathy, by refreshing and adding to hypotheses from her 2007 book “Empathy and the Novel” on ways that narrative empathy comes about and functions.