Friday, September 30, 2011

Empathy is Overrated (And So are Literature Classes?)

Some say that one of the most important reasons to have literature classes is that reading develops empathy. In today's column in the New York Times, David Brooks suggests the value of this lesson may be overrated.

The Limits of Empathy
By David Brooks

We are surrounded by people trying to make the world a better place. Peace activists bring enemies together so they can get to know one another and feel each other’s pain. School leaders try to attract a diverse set of students so each can understand what it’s like to walk in the others’ shoes. Religious and community groups try to cultivate empathy.

As Steven Pinker writes in his mind-altering new book, The Better Angels of Our Nature, we are living in the middle of an “empathy craze.” There are shelfloads of books about it: The Age of Empathy, The Empathy Gap, The Empathic Civilization, Teaching Empathy. There’s even a brain theory that we have mirror neurons in our heads that enable us to feel what’s in other people’s heads and that these neurons lead to sympathetic care and moral action.

There’s a lot of truth to all this. We do have mirror neurons in our heads. People who are empathetic are more sensitive to the perspectives and sufferings of others. They are more likely to make compassionate moral judgments.

The problem comes when we try to turn feeling into action. Empathy makes you more aware of other people’s suffering, but it’s not clear it actually motivates you to take moral action or prevents you from taking immoral action.

Click here to read the rest of this brief article.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

2012 Originals is accepting submissions

The 2012 Originals is currently accepting submissions in the genres of fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, and drama. Any ECU student is welcome and encouraged to submit. Each student may submit a maximum of seven individual works. Each prose entry should not exceed 6,000 words. Poems should not exceed 100 lines. Submit all works to ecuoriginals Deadline for submissions is October 24. For more information contact Dr. Walling at 559-5440 or mwalling

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

We have picnicked!

Department Chair Dr. Jennifer McMahon sends thanks to "Dr. Robin Murphy for locating a sponsor for this event, to Citizens Bank for their generous donation of food and refreshments, and Chris Feiler, Citizens representative, for all the time he spent coordinating and administering the event. Last but not least, thanks to all the members of the Student Issues Committee, specifically Dr. Mara Sukholutskaya, Dr. Yolanda Forero, Dr. Hugh Tribbey, and Dr. Jason Murray, for their hard work."

September 15th: Hada to Read in Shawnee

On Thursday evening, September 15, East Central's own Dr. Ken Hada will be giving a poetry reading, followed by an open mic (in which you can participate). The event is a monthly occurrence at the Benedict Street Cafe in Shawnee, beginning at 7pm (It is usually over by 8:30 or 9 pm).

According to Dr. Hada, "Some good poetry usually occurs here, along with those just getting started. Also, the deli has great sandwiches, etc,. so if you get there around -ish you can have a tasty, inexpensive dinner and coffee while the poetry is occurring." See Dr. Hada if you need directions.

Friday, September 2, 2011