Empathy and Art

Susan Barahal, Tufts University, susan.barahal@tufts.edu                                      

Elizabeth Pugliano, University of Colorado Denver, elizabeth.pugliano@ucdenver.edu

Empathy is our capacity to feel with and as someone or something outside of ourselves. While empathy has nestled in the artistic experiences and philosophies of all ages, and the arts have arguably unique capacities to evoke empathy and prompt deep emotional connections across time and cultures, the subjective and elusive nature of empathic response has often resulted in the relegation of empathy to the margins of art historical inquiry. On the precipice of the third decade of the 21st century, amidst pandemic and global health crises, civic unrest, political turmoil and persistent inequities and injustices, empathy—more than ever—is a critical necessity. Aiming to center empathy within art historical scholarship and methodologies, this session seeks to revive and reexamine notions and experiences of empathy in the visual arts.

We invite papers that explore empathy in art and art history in all forms. Topics of investigation might include empathic responses to works of art and/or artworks intended to evoke empathy in viewers, the mechanisms by which empathic connections are sought, empathy as a method or lens of study and analysis of works of art, empathy and art in educational settings, or the potential uses of visual art as a vehicle of empathy, to name just a few possibilities. We welcome contributions from any area of art history, and we especially encourage perspectives that probe cross-disciplinary intersections or invoke theories and methods from outside of traditional art historical approaches.

Call for Papers deadline 1 November 2021. Please submit your paper proposal to the convenors.



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