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Simplified Minds: Empathy and Mind-Reading in Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance Cycle
Luleå University of Technology, Department of Arts, Communication and Education, Education, Language, and Teaching.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-8813-5721
2017 (English)In: Affect, Emotion, and Children’s Literature: Representation and Socialization in Texts for Children and Young Adults / [ed] Elizabeth Bullen, Kristine Moruzi and Michelle Smith, London and New York: Routledge, 2017, 1, 96-112 p.Chapter in book (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Theory of Mind or mind-reading, that is, our ability to accurately assess what another person is thinking and feeling and to anticipate how they may respond as a result is a life skill which can be developed by reading fiction. Fiction allows readers to gain direct insights into the thoughts, feelings and motivations of complex characters. In addition to developing the readers’ mind-reading skills, mind-reading is an activity which appears in many works of fiction, especially fantasy, where magical means enable authors to create varying degrees on insight into the minds of others. This chapter begins with Simon Baron-Cohen proposal that we exist along a bell-curve of empathy: most people cluster at the centre with autistic persons towards the negative end and highly empathetic persons at the upper end. Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance-cycle is then used to illustrate Baron-Cohen’s research, as it places key characters along the bell-curve. These characters all have magical powers, and their non-human dimensions enable Paolini to map the limits of empathy, demonstrating the dangers of both a lack of empathy and hyper-empathy. In doing so, Paolini enables readers to explore the limits of empathy. The chapter concludes by considering how Paolini manipulates the readers’ empathy, encouraging them to admire behaviours they are likely to condone in real life.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
London and New York: Routledge, 2017, 1. 96-112 p.
Series
Children's Literature and Culture
Keyword [en]
Empathy, Reading, Theory of Mind, Fantasy
National Category
Learning Languages and Literature Didactics
Research subject
English, Specialization in Didactics
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:ltu:diva-66664ISBN: 9781138244672 (print)ISBN: 9781315266961 (electronic)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:ltu-66664DiVA: diva2:1158722
Projects
MAW Reading Strategies
Available from: 2017-11-21 Created: 2017-11-21 Last updated: 2017-12-04Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

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Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • harvard1
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf