Topics in Comparative Studies 1 (S1, 2017/2018)

Semester 1

Emotions in Literature: Rhetoric, Cultural Regulation of Affects and Cognition
Fernanda Mota Alves

It is generally acknowledged that emotions play a significant role in literature, both as a topic of comments and analyses and as an object of representation or a (possibly intended) effect on the reader. However, until recently, there has been  a lack of interest for the issues related to this aspect of literature, in favour of approaches based on the presumption that rationality excludes the study of emotions. Contemporary theory has contributed to a change in this situation, proving exactly the opposite and providing the instruments and insights that allow for the study of the presence and cultural impact of emotion in literature.

This seminar aims to study the conceptualization, strategies of representation and cultural encoding of emotions in literary texts. Starting with  reference to the most relevant contemporary theory of emotions, it will then focus on the literary representation of some of them and their impact on Western culture. Special attention will be paid to the theoretical contributions of cognitive narratology, and the implications of empathy in the reading practice will also be subject to critical analysis.