Tag Article List: Self/Other

Conceptualizing Empathy and Prosocial Action: Teaching Film within theLiterature Classroom

Mayuri Deka
University of the Bahamas
Nassau, The Bahamas


The experience of viewing a movie in the global era is multi-faceted. A viewer’s response to a cinematic experience as Carl Plantinga explains in Moving Viewers: American Film and the Spectator’s Experience is not only admiration for the aesthetics and techniques employed in the movie but also in the emotions aroused by the storyline. Audiences react to the story and characters presented with directed emotions by imagining either their mental lives and feelings or their situations. Empathy occurs within this framework of imagination where the audience engages with the story and character based on these directed emotions. The audience could not only empathize with the story or character by experiencing a similar emotion but also think about a similar situation they have experienced and attribute the emotion they experienced to the story or character. Watching a film such as How to Train Your Dragon (2010) would allow the instructor to help students sustain a coherent identity and find similarities with more and more diverse groups of people, leading to a reduction in prejudice while promoting an empathic identity. This facilitation of the development of complex identity-contents in the students based on universal affective states and life-conditions should result in them taking practical steps to alleviate the Other’s suffering and engage in social change through empathic reflection.

Keywords: Film, literature, empathy, Self/Other, pedagogy

Author Bio

Dr. Mayuri Deka is the Chair of English Studies at The University of the Bahamas. She has published and presented numerous papers on the areas of multi-ethnic identities, diasporic literatures, Postcolonial literatures, cinema, and pedagogy. Articles and chapters can be found in South Asian Review, The Journal of the School of Language, Literature & Culture Studies,Teaching Hemingway and Race and such. She is in the process of writing her book on pro-social pedagogy and social justice. Deka has taught a wide range of American and World literature courses, including texts from various diasporas and focusing on the interactions within cultures and races.

Suggested References


Deka, M. (2021). Conceptualizing empathy and prosocial action: Teaching film within the literature classroom. Dialogue: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Popular Culture and Pedagogy, 8(3). http://journaldialogue.org/issues/v8-issue-2/conceptualizing-empathy-and-prosocial-action-teaching-film-within-theliterature-classroom/


Deka, Mayuri. “Conceptualizing Empathy and Prosocial Action: Teaching Film within the Literature Classroom.” Dialogue: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Popular Culture and Pedagogy, vol. 8, no. 3. http://journaldialogue.org/issues/v8-issue-2/conceptualizing-empathy-and-prosocial-action-teaching-film-within-theliterature-classroom/

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