March brings Conference on the Sympathetic Imagination: Literature, Film, and Writing of Sympathy and Empathy

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Conference on the Sympathetic Imagination: Literature, Film, and Writing of Sympathy and Empathy

March 1 & 2, 2019
University of Montevallo
Montevallo, Alabama

In an 1817 letter to Benjamin Bailey, Keats writes, “The Setting Sun will always set me to rights, or if a Sparrow come before my Window, I take part in its existence and pick about the gravel.” What he describes is the sympathetic imagination, how we acquire knowledge of the inner lives of others by extending the imagination. The term “sympathetic imagination” comes to us from Adam Smith: “As we have no immediate experience of what other men feel, we can form no idea of the manner in which they are affected, but by conceiving what we ourselves should feel in the like situation. Though our brother is upon the rack, as long as we ourselves are at our ease, our senses will never inform us of what he suffers. They never did and never can carry beyond our persons, and it is by the imagination we place ourselves in his situation.” Sponsored by ACETA (The Association of College English Teachers of Alabama) and the University of Montevallo, this conference broadly considers literature, film, and writing on the importance of sympathy and empathy. More broadly, papers might address phenomenology, the intersection of philosophies and literature, transhumanism, performativity, trauma theory, literary sensation and sensationalism, the nonhuman experience in literature, and other topics related to the conference theme. Submissions in pedagogy and composition and rhetoric are also welcome.

Proposals for the following recurring strands are encouraged. Presenters should indicate in the header of the proposal if they wish to be considered for general panels or strands:

  • Scholarship and the Professor Emeritus – a strand for retired members
  • Talking with and among the Disciplines – an multi/interdisciplinary strand
  • Imagining and Implementing Diversity – a diversity studies strand
  • Feeling and Describing Gender – a gender studies strand
  • Creating and Performing the Imagined – a creative writing strand

Proposals of no more than 500 words should be sent no later than Friday, November 16, 2018 to Anissa Graham, Executive Secretary, ACETA, University of North Alabama, by email to Electronic submissions are preferred. Proposals should include audiovisual needs, the presenter’s name, school affiliation, and position. Panel proposals are also welcome. When proposing a panel, please indicate the names, affiliations, and positions of all members of the panel and if any of the presenters would be able to serve as the panel moderator.

Each presenter should limit himself/herself to a 15-minute talk. Presenters must pay the conference registration fee, which includes membership dues; this fee will be waived for undergraduate presenters.

For more information, please visit ACETA’s on the Web at

Sponsored by the Association of College English Teachers of Alabama and the University of Montevallo.