Comparative Literature (PhD): : The Limits of Representation: Negative Empathy and the Telling of the Shoah

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The course is designed for  PhD students, but
can be followed byundergraduate students as well.


Literature on empathy has enormously increased in the
last decades, especially from the point of view of
neuroscience and neuroaesthetics. Scholars, however,
have been focussing especially on the ethical dimension
of empathy: on the identification with the victims which is
also highlighted by the political use of this concept. This
course focuses instead on the empathy with negative
characters, which can have a strong cathartic and social
function, as a discharge of destructive drives, and is often
linked to the representation of fear and other strong
emotions. After a theoretical introduction, the course will
deal with two novels and a movie which present empathetic strategies and an undirect, allusive way of representing the tragedy of the Shoah

Obiettivi formativi

The course will introduce students to the history
and methodologies of comparative literature as
critical approach, with a special emphasis on the
categories of reception and adaptation. It aims to
have them actively read and compare texts
belonging to different ages, cultures and genres,
and their adaptations in different media
(performance, cinema, visual arts).

Riferimenti bibliografici

Littel, J. (2006), Le benevole, Torino, Einaudi.

Haneke, M. (2009), Il nastro bianco, Austria, Francia e Germania.

Falco, G. (2014), La gemella H., Torino, Einaudi.


G. Didi-Huberman (2005), Immagini malgrado tutto, Milano, Raffaello Cortina

A. Mazzarella (2022), La Shoah oggi. Nel conflitto delle immagini, Milano, Bompiani