Dr. Christiana Werner

Project: Wer hat Angst vor fiktiven Charakteren? Intentionale Objekte der Emotion bei der Rezeption fiktionaler Texte.

Within the framework of the project „Wo is afraid of fictional characters?“ I investigate how we have to describe and explain emotional reactions towards fictional characters, (like fear of Dracula or disgust of the American Psycho Patrick Bateman). I call these emotional responses “fictional emotions”: Central questions are: Are fictional emotions rational? What are the intentional objects of fictional emotions? Are fictional emotions genuine emotions? I suggest that answers to these questions are relevant for a general theory of emotions and that these questions need to be answered for emotions in general. The suggested distinction between genuine and non-genuine Emotions (K. Walton) seems to presuppose that fictional emotions have features they do not have in common with any other emotions. One result of this project will be to show that fictional emotions are in no relevant sense different from other emotions, in particular they do not differ from emotional responses towards representations in general and representations of past, future or possible objects.

In a second project, related to the first one, I investigate the role of empathy and emotions in understanding (real) people and artworks. The following questions are decisive: Can empathy be a way to knowledge (about the other’s mind or about artworks)? What are or want can be objects of empathy? Can emotional responses towards artworks provide additional information about the artwork in question and therefore lead to a better understanding?