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Gilbert J. Rose

Examining his childhood portrait over many months within the safety and resonance of psychoanalytic psychotherapy, an older patient recovered lost childhood feelings. His viewing the picture with motoric empathy points up a crucial relation of motion to affect in all nonverbal art, namely, affecto-motor sublimation. How do artist's affects become transformed and embedded in art and music to stimulate affective responses? The artist's kinesthetic somatic tension and release are personal expressive substrates of the affects that accompany the making of art. Using artistic tools to regulate the salience of perceptual features, the somatic tension and release of affect turns into the virtual implicit motion of tonal/visual gestures of music/art; thence, transformed by a receptive receiver back into the somatic tension and release appropriate to his/her own personal, kinesthetic, affective response.

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Laura T. Di Summa-Knoop

Can naturalized aesthetics contribute to the evaluation of a work? In this article, I consider three ways in which naturalized aesthetics may inform critical evaluation. First, I analyze the role of naturalized aesthetic analysis in the formation of the creative choices made by filmmakers. Second, I assess the relationship between the analysis of empathy provided by Murray Smith’s Film, Art, and the Third Culture and the expression of moral evaluations. And third, I outline what I take to be naturalized aesthetics’ promising potential contribution to the study of genre and contra-standard features. In the concluding section, I instead introduce what I take to be two rather serious difficulties to a cooperation between criticism and naturalized aesthetics.

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Robert Blanchet and Margrethe Bruun Vaage

As the frequent use of metaphors like friendship or relationship in academic and colloquial discourse on serial television suggests, long-term narratives seem to add something to the spectator's engagement with fictional characters that is not fully captured by terms such as empathy and sympathy. Drawing on philosophical accounts of friendship and psychological theories on the formation of close relationships, this article clarifies in what respect the friendship metaphor is warranted. The article proposes several hypotheses that will enhance cognitive theories of character engagement. Spectators tend to like what they have been exposed to more, and the feeling of familiarity is pleasurable. Familiar characters are powerful tools to get the spectator hooked. Furthermore, by generating an impression of a shared history, television series activate mental mechanisms similar to those activated by friendship in real life. These factors, and several others, create a bond with characters in television series that tends to be described in everyday language as a sort of friendship.

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Christine Regan

Tony Harrison’s filial sonnets, from his major ongoing sonnet sequence The School of Eloquence (1978–), are widely regarded as among the most moving poems in the language, and have conversely been criticized for sentimentality. Blake Morrison observes that the focus upon the sentiment of the filial sonnets has obscured their political concerns. What has not been noticed is the sonnets’ politics of sentiment. Harrison’s merging of filial and political concerns and the way his socialist humanism is refracted in these intimate sonnets is examined in this article in relation particularly to the great elegiac sonnet ‘Marked with D’ and ‘Heredity’, the brilliant, little-discussed verse epigraph to the sonnet sequence. A purpose of this article is to show the extent to which the filial sonnets merge empathy and politics and express powerful personal and political feeling in their own terms.

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Ben Campbell

Cosmopolitanism has become a rediscovered conceptual frontier within the social sciences. It has emerged in the space for relational thinking about contemporary movements of people and ideas beyond old societal boundaries, as an alternative to the homogenizing implications carried by globalization. It forefronts new cross-territorial contexts of encounter attending to samenesses and differences among people, places, and the nonhuman, presenting new kinds of translocal issues for anthropologists of the environment. While cosmopolitanism draws historically on aspects of Enlightenment universalist rationalism, current applications of the term forefront an empathy and respect for other people’s cultures and values. This is frequently drawn into a distinction between “normative” and “cultural” cosmopolitanisms. The first Kantian sense involves a context-transcendent level of ethical principles with general validity, while the second is about taking cognizance of difference and invokes some positive tolerance of multiplicity and appreciation of others. In both cases there is a sense of a projected “ethical horizon” (Werbner 2008).

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Henriette Heidbrink

This article raises the question to what extent ludic forms affect the audience's engagement with characters. By introducing the analytic method of morphologic observation, the interrelation between ludic forms and narrative context becomes the main focus. Moreover, this allows a closer look at the filmic characters that are also affected by the integration of ludic forms. By exploring films that deal with the death of a main character and would usually call for tragic effects, the article shows how ludic forms partially inhibit the typical engagement with characters. Other forms of blocking empathy are discussed and the article closes with some thoughts on the consequences of ludic films on reception and pedagogic or therapeutic potential.

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Monstrous Masses

The Human Body as Raw Material

John Marmysz

This article investigates the varied reactions of audiences to cinematic depictions of the human body as objectified raw material. The investigation proceeds, first, by explicating an ontological distinction between being-in-itself and being-for-itself, which in turn allows for a clarification of the processes involved in the objectification of one human being by another. The article then argues that in films where depictions of bodily objectification are pushed to an extreme—such as The Human Centipede, Nymphomaniac, and Videodrome—a potentially positive, empathic potential is unlocked in audiences. Rather than simply resulting in the humiliation of human characters, such films encourage audiences to experience a kind of sympathy for the characters that is related to, but not distinct from, other horrific, humorous, and erotic feelings. The article concludes that the objectification of human bodies in film is both unavoidable and a potentially positive moral exercise.

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Jens Eder

Controversial films like Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange represent a challenge for current theories of emotion elicitation. Combining theories of emotional appraisal, film comprehension, and the formal analysis of film, this article outlines a model of audiovisual responses to films that distinguishes between four levels of information processing and corresponding emotional reactions: 1. the perception of images and sounds triggers perceptual affects, sensations, and moods; 2. the development of mental models of a represented world, its inhabitants and events, calls forth diegetic emotions like sympathy, empathy, and situation-related feelings; 3. grasping indirect or more abstract meanings leads to thematic emotions; and 4. reflection on the communication process and its elements (text, producer, recipient) leads to communicative emotions. These four levels of emotional reactions interact in time, leading to the development of complex emotion episodes.

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Hannah Birr

It has become a commonplace that the audience of a film is active. What sort of activity is involved when the audience is from one culture—say, Germany—and the film is from another culture—say, India? This article examines the processes involved in such cross-cultural film reception. It focuses on two aspects that are often regarded as problematic for the enjoyment of a film in terms of understanding and emotional response. The first is an obviously characteristic feature of Hindi cinema, namely the song and dance sequences. The second is perhaps less obvious, but no less characteristic—intertextuality and self-referential humor. The example explored in the article—Farah Khan's Om Shanti Om—displays a multitude of ironic allusions to the history of the Indian film industry and other culturally specific elements, which present a special challenge to uninformed audiences. In this context the article concentrates on a segment of active viewers that has at least some degree of familiarity with, but, more important, expresses a definite interest in Hindi cinema: Western (non-Indian) fans. The article argues that it is a misconception to regard cultural particularity as essentially problematic. On the contrary, elements that initially seem to present a hindrance might actually facilitate the development of empathy and identification. The point is perhaps particularly true in the social context of fan (culture) reception and offers some explanation for the films' cross-cultural appeal.

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Julia Hanebrink, David Lempert, Angela Kelly, Roaxana Morosanu and Peter Snowdon

Displacing Human Rights: War and Intervention in Northern Uganda. Adam Branch, New York: Oxford University Press, 2011, ISBN: 978-019978-208-6, 336 pp., Hb. £45.00, $74.00.

Performing Heritage: Art of Exhibit Walks. Navina Jafa, New Delhi: Sage Publications, 2012, ISBN: 978-81-321-0699-9, xxviii + 216 pp., Pb. $32.95.

Ancient Khmer Sites in Eastern Thailand. Asger Mollerup, Bangkok: White Lotus, 2012, ISBN: 978-974-480-181-4, xii + 185 pp. and C.D., Pb. $32.00.

The Anthropology of Empathy: Experiencing the Lives of Others in Pacific Societies. Douglas W. Hollan and C. Jason Throop (eds.), Oxford, New York: Berghahn Books (ASAO studies in Pacific Anthropology Volume 1), 2011, ISBN: 978-0-85745-102-6, 233 pp., Hb. £45.00.

Ethical Consumption: Social Value and Economic Practice. James G. Carrier and Peter G. Luetchford (eds.), New York, Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2012, ISBN: 978-0-85745-342-6, 246pp. Hb. £48.00.

Tales from Facebook Daniel Miller, Cambridge: Polity Press, 2012, ISBN: 978-0-7456-5209-2, 220 pp., Hb. £50.00, Pb. £14.99.