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Time-travel and Empathy: an Analysis of how Anachronous Narrative Structures Affect Character/Reader Empathy
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of English.
2019 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

This study focuses on the relationship between the author’s narrative craft and the potential for the reader’s empathetic response. Specifically, it discusses how an anachronous narrative structure provides the author with different ways to promote empathy.

The discussion of empathy is key in the discussion of narrative craft: great characters are those a reader can empathise with. But the discussion of empathy runs deeper than this, with many scholars turning to the wider effects literature can have on a reader’s moral compass (Nussbaum 1997) and even their real-world behaviour (Keen 2007).

This study sets aside the question of how to produce empathy and turns instead to the author’s craft. I have assessed the author’s capability of promoting empathy by building a framework of tools for the author (dubbed The Empathy Toolbox) from several studies conducted by narratology theorists. I have then analysed this in relation to my own work and that of Audrey Niffenegger and Kurt Vonnegut with a particular focus on characterisation and how this is affected by anachrony.

This study is of value to all writers of creative fiction, as anachronous timelines can be employed across a breadth of genres using plot devices like flashbacks, flash-forwards and dream sequences. Furthermore, it provides authors with tools to aid their craft and help their work resonate with any reader, not just those that might have a similar background to their protagonist.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019. , p. 29
Keywords [en]
Susan Keen, Gérard Genette, anachrony, empathy, narratology, time-travel, empathy toolbox, chronology
National Category
Literary Composition
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-169736OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-169736DiVA, id: diva2:1325220
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Available from: 2019-08-12 Created: 2019-06-14 Last updated: 2019-08-12Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
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  • apa
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