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Ralph Clare presides over empathy in contemporary literature panel

Ralph Clare, an associate professor of English, organized and presided over the panel “Rethinking Empathy in Contemporary Literature” at the 2020 Modern Language Association, the largest scholarly meeting in the Humanities. The meeting was held Jan. 9-12 in Seattle.

Collectively, the panelists’ papers questioned individuals’ uncritical assumptions about empathy by considering its commodification, its status as labor, its ideological premises and the ability of literature to generate or frustrate empathic modes of feeling in readers. These critiques of empathy were grounded in analyses of literary works by Moshin Hamid, Rachel Cusk and Hanya Yanagihara.