Adult Fiction · History · Nonfiction

Reading List for Human Rights and the Novel in History

The tentative topic for my senior paper is how the development of the novel as a form in the 1700s helped influence the development of empathy and human rights. Eh? Eh? Pretty rad, amirite?

This is my list of sources to check out. They’re in order of how relevant they are, (that is to say: how badly I want them). I’ve already read a few of them, the Hunt and the Pinker are how I got the idea to do this in the first place, but I need to reread them with note-taking and topic-narrowing in mind. I’m still at the stage where it seems like I’ll never find enough to write, but as I research that’ll pass, and if I can find a little niche in which to do new writing, that’ll be great. My biggest issue right now is keeping it historical and not drifting into psychology, although I’ll incorporate at least a page or two of psychological babble just to discuss whether or not empathy is actually affected by novels, etc. There’s been some research in that vein recently and I’d like to include it. (It seems to support the novels-created-empathy thesis, but if it debunks the thesis, that’ll be great content as well!) The “articles” and “primary sources” sections will undergo some expansion as I do my research.

Anyway, I hope this list will be useful for anyone interested in the topic, and it’s also a foundational part of my process. I’ll probably be blogging all the way through this paper, so best to start at the beginning! Also, if you happen to know of any more sources that might be relevant, please do alert me.

Without further ado, here’s the list:

Books (Important)
Inventing Human Rights by Lynn Hunt
The Better Angels of Our Nature by Steven Pinker
The Moral Laboratory by J.F. Hakemulder
Empathy and the Novel by S. Keen
The Anthology and the Rise of the Novel by L. Price
The Rise of Mass Literacy by Vincent
Human Rights, Inc.: The World Novel, Narrative Form, and International Law by Slaughter
Books (Less Important)
Narrative Impact: Social and Cognitive Foundation by Green, Strange, & Brock
Empathy: Philosophical and Psychological Perspectives by Goldie & Coplan
The Expanding Circle by Peter Singer
The Civilizing Process by Norbert Elias
Epistolary Bodies by Cook
A Farewell to Alms by G. Clark (178-80, 251-2)
The Age of Empathy by F.B.M. de Waal
Small World by D. Lodge
Cultivating Humanity by M. Nussbaum
A History of Force by J.L. Payne
The Empathic Civilization by J. Rifkin
The Spectacle of Suffering by Spierenburg
Primary Sources
Pamela: or, Virtue Rewarded by Richardson
Julie, or the New Heloise by Rousseau
Clarissa, or, the History of a Young Lady by Richardson
C.D. Batson et al — especially “Empathy, attitudes and action” and “Is empathic emotion a source of altruistic motivation?”
“The function of fiction is the abstraction and simulation of social experience” by R.A. Mar, in Perspectives on Psychological Science
“Bookworms versus nerds” by R.A. Mar in Journal of Research in Personality
“The perception-action model of empathy and psychopathic “cold-heartedness”” by Mealey & Kinner, in Behavioral & Brain Sciences
“Quantitative analysis of culture using millions of digitized books” by Michel et al, in Science


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