Empathy and Otherness

  • Stanton B. GarnerJr.
Part of the Cognitive Studies in Literature and Performance book series (CSLP)


This chapter (“Empathy and Otherness”) examines the phenomenon of empathy from the point of view of sensorimotor and kinesthetic experience. It begins by considering the components of empathy and looking at cognitive and phenomenological definitions of empathy. Drawing on Emmanuel Levinas’s Infinity and Totality, it considers the place of alterity in empathic interactions and what it means for spectators and actors to navigate otherness and difference empathically. The chapter concludes by addressing the issue of actors performing characters from different identity communities, including the controversial practice of non-disabled actors taking on disabled roles. Scenes and performances analyzed in this chapter include Gloucester’s blinding in Shakespeare’s King Lear, director Sam Gold’s production of The Glass Menagerie, and Proteus Theatre’s Merrick, the Elephant Man.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stanton B. GarnerJr.
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of EnglishUniversity of TennesseeKnoxvilleUSA

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