Negative Empathy: Archetypes,Transcodifications, Performance

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The course is designed for undergraduate students, but can be followed by PhD 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 first with the ancient and modern archetypes of negative empathy (Medea, Macbeth), and then with thei transcodifications in opera (Verdi) and in the movies (Pasolini); the conclusion will analyze other forms of negative empathy not related to narrative representation, such as performance and installations

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

Euripide (2023), Medea, translated by M. Fusillo, Siracusa, INDA

Shakespeare, W. (1983), Macbeth, translated by A. Lombardo, Milano, Meridiani Mondadori

Verdi, G. (2015), Macbeth, directed by Emma Dante, conducted by G. Ferro, Teatro Massimo, DVD Naxos (libretto by F.M. Piave and A, Maffei in Tutti i libretti di Verdi, ed. by L. Baldacci, Garzanti 1975).

Pasolini, P.P. (1970), Medea, Italia (the script in Tutte le opere; Per il cinema, edited by W. Siti and F. Zabagli, t. 2, Mondadori 2001)