The IUP Journal of English Studies
Locating Amruta Patil’s Graphic Novel Kari Within the Silhouette of the Theory of Empathy

Article Details
Pub. Date : Dec, 2018
Product Name : The IUP Journal of English Studies
Product Type : Article
Product Code : IJES31812
Author Name : Kabita Mondal and Joydeep Banerjee
Availability : YES
Subject/Domain : English Studies
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No. of Pages : 11

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Abstract

Empathy being an interdisciplinary issue plays a significant role in art and aesthetics just like in psychology, philosophy, neuroscience, anthropology, and so on. Literature enhances the reader’s qualities, social or moral, exposing him to hundreds of virtues and values. Graphic novel employing the dual medium, visual and verbal, has great potential to explore empathic abilities; as is often said, pictures are more powerful than words. Suzanne Keen, in the context of discussing narrative empathy of literature, observed this minutely and explained that traditional or canonical literature has the power to enhance one’s finer feelings with the help of narrative empathy. According to contemporary neuroscience, the reader or observer shows empathy due to the activation of the mirror neurons in his brain. And the reason for the activation of mirror neurons is the visualization of actions and incidents in the context of visual art such as painting, movie, and graphic novel, and internal visualization in the context of a text using only the verbal mode. The reader may experience a vicarious aesthetic encounter with a canonical text as well as with a graphic novel. This paper makes an empirical study of Amruta Patil’s graphic novel Kari, situating it within the different theoretical frameworks of narrative empathy.


Introduction

Art and aesthetics are nowadays prone to be explained and discussed in multidisciplinary context. Accordingly, though “empathy” is a term more used in psychology and neuroscience, studies on the term have enriched the domain of art and literature as well. Redefinitions and reinterpretations have endowed the term with connotations. The English word “empathy” has been derived from the Greek word empatheia, meaning “physical affection or passion” as en means “in or at” and pathos means emotion, suffering, pity, feeling, and so on. According to Wind (1963), German philosophers Rudolf Hermann Lotze and Robert Vischer adapted the term and invented Einfühlung in 1873, meaning “in feeling” or “feeling into.” In the late nineteenth century, German philosopher Theodor Lipps adopted the notion and helped it flourish. British psychologist Edward Bradford Titchener translated the word and coined “empathy” in English in 1909 (Wispe 1987, 17-18). Ultimately, the word gained its present momentum in the early twentieth century in American experimental psychology:


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