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Literature and Empathy 2015 | IGEL

Literature and Empathy 2015

Literature and Empathy – A transdisciplinary symposium endorsed by IGEL, funded by the Thyssen foundation


July 10th -12th, 2015

Göttingen, Germany (Lichtenberg-Kolleg: The Göttingen Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities & Social Sciences)

The transdisciplinary symposium brought together speakers from a range of different disciplines such as literature studies, linguistics, stylistics, (developmental, social, and cognitive) psychology, education studies, children’s literature studies, and cognitive neuroscience. Aimed to be a platform for exchange between these fields, the conference investigated the linkage between the reading of literature and aspects of “empathy” (including perspective taking, Theory of Mind, sympathy, and so on).  Presentations of empirical research were joined by discussions of theories and methods relevant to the topic.

For more details, see the program and the abstracts. You can read the organizers’ introductions here (Lauer) and here (Herrmann). A special issue in SSOL on the theme is currently being prepared (submission deadline 15 November).

The following speakers contributed to a very fruitful symposium:

  • Markus Appel (Koblenz-Landau, Germany)
  • Marisa Bortolussi (Edmonton, Canada)
  • Emanuele Castano (New York, USA)
  • Peter Dixon (Edmonton, Canada)
  • Frank Hakemulder (Utrecht, The Netherlands)
  • Arthur Jacobs (Berlin, Germany)
  • Elsi Kaiser (Los Angeles, USA)
  • Emy Koopman (Rotterdam, The Netherlands)
  • Bettina Kümmerling-Meibauer (Tübingen, Germany)
  • Anne Mangen (Stavanger, Norway)
  • Raymond Mar (Toronto, Canada)
  • Tobias Richter (Kassel, Germany)
  • Massimo Salgaro (Verona, Italy/Göttingen, Germany)
  • Mette Steenberg (Aarhus, Denmark)
  • Willie van Peer (Antwerp, Belgium)
  • Mikkel Wallentin (Aarhus, Denmark)
  • Roel Willems (Nijmegen, The Netherlands)
  • Fenja Ziegler (Lincoln, United Kingdom)

The symposium was open to a limited number of auditors, and attendance was free of charge. There was great interest from people all over the world.

The symposium had its own set of beautiful T-shirts in gold and green. There are a few left. Interested? Please contact



Schedule: The symposium took place from Fri 10th (ca. 2 PM) – Sun 12th July 2015 (ca. 5 PM).
Please see here for travel directions as well as links to nightlife and accomodation in Göttingen.

Symposium Organizers: Berenike Herrmann and Gerhard Lauer
Student Assistants: Catharina Witte, Louisa Becker, Markus Paluch, Philip Siebenthaler.
Secretary: Bettina von Linde-Suden

Logo_komplett_r_vekt_Farbe Kopie [Konvertiert]

See Göttingen University’s press release (in German).

The symposium is funded by


… and supported by

Lichtenberg-Kolleg Göttingen georg_christoph_lichtenberg_klein2



© Picture by Gauß-Kuppel Gemeinschaft e.V.

International Society for the Empirical Study of Literature and Media