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Introduction: stylistic approaches to narrative empathy

  • Carolina Fernandez-Quintanilla EMAIL logo and Fransina Stradling


This article introduces the special issue by outlining the current state of research into the role of textual-linguistic features in eliciting narrative empathy. Firstly, we address the complexities around defining the term ‘narrative empathy’ and provide some definitional criteria. We then review the ways in which the role of language in narrative empathy has been studied to date in narratology, literary studies, empirical study of literature and stylistics. Based on this review, we argue that stylistic approaches allow for the much-needed exploration of specific linguistic techniques that may contribute to narrative empathy, while also taking into account other contextual factors to address the local nature of reading effects. Finally, we summarise how the contributions to this special issue showcase the affordances of stylistic analysis for the study of narrative empathy and offer new insights into the ways narrative empathy is elicited during the reading process.

Corresponding author: Carolina Fernandez-Quintanilla, Carolina Fernandez-Quintanilla, University of Granada, Granada, Spain, E-mail:

Funding source: Spanish Ministry of Universities and the European Union (Next Generation EU)

  1. Research funding: Carolina Fernandez-Quintanilla thanks the Spanish Ministry of Universities and the European Union (Next Generation EU) for her María Zambrano Postdoctoral Research Fellowship.


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Published Online: 2023-10-06
Published in Print: 2023-10-26

© 2023 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

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