Aarhus Universitets segl

Charlotte Ettrup Christiansen

Does fiction reading make us better people? Empathy and morality in a Literary Empowerment Programme

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskrift/Konferencebidrag i tidsskrift /Bidrag til avisTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review

Studies have proposed that participatory arts, particularly literature reading, enhance empathy, supposedly leading to enhanced moral judgment. Building on fieldwork in a Literary Empowerment Programme for people with mental vulnerabilities in Denmark, I seek to qualify the role of empathy, the ability to imaginatively put yourself in other people’s shoes, when reading literature in a social setting. I describe encounters with empathy and the limits thereof, as it happened in the reading groups investigated. Taking inspiration from Jarrett Zigon, these encounters are situated within the moral and ethical assemblage of the programme, whose objective was to create ‘literary free spaces’. I connect this objective to Scandinavian and Scottish Enlightenment values of freedom, equality and civil society. These insights are finally used to discuss future pathways for the anthropology of literature and reading, moving beyond a focus on understanding and meaning-making processes.

Antal sider20
StatusE-pub ahead of print - 25 nov. 2021

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