Author Suzanne Keen will speak at the Alkek Library Monday.
Texas State’s Alkek Library will host a reading and book signing with author Suzanne Keen Monday at 4 p.m.
Keen, an English professor at Washington and Lee University, will make a presentation related to her recent book Empathy and the Novel.
Keen delves into the complex psychological waters of empathy and altruism in the human psyche and posits that “fictional worlds provide safe zones for readers’ feeling empathy without experiencing a resultant demand on real-world action.”
Keen takes into account the results of medical and psychological studies done in the last decade that show the human brain responds viscerally to the experiences of others, regardless of whether they are suggested directly or observed directly. This approach blends neuroscience and contemporary psychological research on empathy to ask about the effect of narrative fiction on human behavior.
Keen attempts to show that research has important implications for the physical foundations of the art experience. She particularly notes that readers of narratives, such as novels, are altered by the experience of reading, and that the experience can contribute to the building of the basic human senses of mutuality and communality.
The Times Literary Supplement described Keen’s most recent book as “Well illustrated … It is an extremely stimulating, clearly written and accessible work which will be of interest to scholars of literature, psychology and neuroscience alike.”