Interesting and illuminating example.
Would Genette’s considerations of anachrony in literary narrative (and in particular analepsis) be helpful here in your discussion of film flashbacks? Analepsis has an expositional function but also doesn’t always conform to Sternberg’s criteria.
I’m intrigued by what seems to be an underlying question of your paper, namely to what extent does the mind that reads narrative rely on the same or similar processes as the mind that views narrative? Although the former is processing words and the latter is sometimes processing only visual images, isn’t it the case that the mind that is accustomed to reading frame stories or analeptical passages has no trouble making the leap to the analogous narrative structures in film, and vice versa? Regardless of whether the exposition is presented verbally or visually, or both as in the case of voiceovers, most readers and viewers will be able to grasp and follow the temporal leaps with relative ease.
There is a field of work in psychology on discourse processes (Rolf Zwaan & colleagues) that specifically looks at changes in locations, characters, and time frames (and other things) in text. Briefly, readers slow down when confronted with these changes (e.g. “The next day”), with the notion that they have to update mental representations at these points. I have some work in press that essentially shows that movies are constructed as if the viewer needs to slow down at these points (changes in locations, characters, or time) as well. So, there is a text/film parallel at least at this level.
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I very much like this description of reader’s empathy – cognitive consonance can take place at the same time as emotional dissonance – and I also appreciate the mention in paragraph 17 of ‘negative empathy’ since the common conception of empathy can be, and often is, conflated with sympathy.
Working in empathy studies I have been confused and discouraged at times by inconsistent terminology, and I wonder what your thoughts are on that. You stress in endnote one that empathy is comprised of both cognitive and affective components, yet in your discussion you don’t use separate terminology to parse it into “cognitive empathy” (perspective-taking, Theory of Mind) and “affective empathy” or other designations. Since you elaborate the nuances so well, it seems fine for you to use simply “empathy” as an umbrella term, but my question is whether separate labels for the different types of empathic processes generally should be used for clarification (or does doing that lead to the false impression that they are separate rather than interrelated phenomena?).
Looking forward to your book when it comes out!
Thanks for your great question. When I started working on this project I was determined to keep “cognitive empathy” separate from “affective empathy.” I still think those are useful categories, particularly as laid out by Janet Strayer (see “Affective and Cognitive Perspectives on Empathy,” Empathy and Its Development, eds Nancy Eisenberg and Janet Strayer, Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 218-44). When looking at the long history of fellow feeling, I find it helpful to relate “sympathetic imagination” to cognitive empathy and “sympathy” (in some cases) to affective empathy–but I no longer think we can always keep them separate in practice. As you say, they are in fact interrelated phenomena. I see no way to neatly separate cognition and affect, thought and feeling, etc. And the work of those thinkers I study, from Leslie Stephen in the 1880s to Edith Stein in the 1910s, doesn’t make such a separation. So I think insisting on such a separation isn’t ultimately helpful in my case.
I like that way of looking at it, thanks for the clarification!
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Thanks for this paper–I’m looking forward to the session. I’d be interested to hear more about what you think the relationship between character identification and TOM is for viewers of melodrama. For example, to what extent does one need robust TOM in order to feel strong identification?
Thanks for the question; I will think about this issue some more in the next week.
Interesting paper and I especially enjoyed the analysis of the Eternal Sunshine sequence. Application of the container schema works well. Could also incorporate discussion of the conceptual metaphor of memories as images/pictures (static or moving) that can be “retrieved” within the space of the mind.
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