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Choi, Jinhee, , . All the right responses: Fiction films and warranted emotions
2003, British Journal of Aesthetics 43 (3):308-321.
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner, Contributed by: Christy Mag Uidhir

Abstract: Cognitive theories of emotions have provided us with explanations of how we emotionally engage with fiction, when we are aware that what is depicted is fictional. However, these theories left an important question unanswered: namely, what kinds of emotional responses to fiction are warranted responses. The main focus of this paper is how our emotional responses to fiction can be aesthetically warranted – that is, how emotions directed to fiction can be warranted given the fact that its object is an artwork. I consider three possible explanations of this phenomenon: the real-life principle, a correspondence model, and a functional model. I argue that the real-life principle and the correspondence model fall short of explaining how our emotional responses to film are aesthetically warranted, and instead I argue that a functional model provides such an explanation. In this paper, I will primarily focus on fiction films, although I will address novels and other art forms where necessary.

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Doyle, Jennifer, , . Thinking Feeling: Criticism and Emotion
2013, In: Hold It Against Me: Difficulty and Emotion in Contemporary Art. Durham: Duke University Press. 69-89.
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Added by: Rossen Ventzislavov, Contributed by:

Summary: Doyle investigates the emotional dimensions of aesthetic experience in the context of controversial performance art practices. She focuses on sentimentality because it sits at the extreme end not only of the emotional spectrum but also, as a negative, on the art critical radar. Critics’ charge against the sentimental is twofold – it enables vicarious experience at the expense of its direct counterpart and it gives a platform to the inauthentic. Furthermore, the overwhelming critical consensus is that the personal itself, manifested in sentimentality or otherwise, is inherently suspect. Emotion is thus framed as detrimental to “serious” art. It is also, and even more damagingly, feminized and drained of its political charge. To counter these assumptions, Doyle uses specific art-historical examples which reveal the richness and importance of emotional interest in the way art is made and experienced.

Comment: This text can be used in discussions of emotion and affectivity. While much of its focus is on art, it can be used in more general classes on emotions as well.

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Eaton, Marcia Muelder, , . A strange kind of sadness
1982, Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 41 (1):51-63.
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner, Contributed by: Christy Mag Uidhir

Abstract: HERE IS a Steve McQueen, Jackie Gleason, Tuesday Weld movie called Soldier in the Rain that I watch whenever it comes on the TV late show. I have seen it at least half a dozen times. The first time I saw it, I cried at the end. The next time I saw it I began crying just before the end. Now I choke up when it starts and cry more or less steadily through the whole thing. My husband and son find this exasperating. “Why are you going to watch that if it is just going to make you unhappy?” they ask. What they do not understand is that very few things bring me greater pleasure than watching this movie, crying all the way through. Or perhaps my son does understand when he disdainfully concludes, “You’re crazy”.

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Gendler, Tamar Szabó, , Karson Kovakovich. Genuine Rational Fictional Emotions
2006, In Matthew Kieran (ed.), Contemporary Debates in Aesthetics and the Philosophy of Art. Blackwell 241-253.
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by:

Abstract: The “paradox of fictional emotions” involves a trio of claims that are jointly inconsistent but individually plausible. Resolution of the paradox thus requires that we deny at least one of these plausible claims. The paradox has been formulated in various ways, but for the purposes of this chapter, we will focus on the following three claims, which we will refer to respectively as the Response Condition, the Belief Condition and the Coordination Condition.

Comment: This paper introduces the paradox of fiction, briefly discusses some challenges faced by those attempting to solve it, and offers a solution grounded in Damasio’s research into the role of emotions in guiding action. It provides only a limited discussion of the previous debate, which makes it less suitable as an introductory text; it is best used in senior aesthetics classes or as a further reading. Its engagement with psychological literature means it can inspire discussions on the relations between philosophical and empirical explanations.

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Korsmeyer, Carolyn, , . The Magnetism of Disgust
2010, In: Savoring Disgust: The Foul and the Fair in Aesthetics. New York: Oxford University Press. 113-136.
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Added by: Rossen Ventzislavov, Contributed by:

Summary: Korsmeyer’s account of disgust and the role it plays in art appreciation starts with a treatment of what she calls the “paradox of aversion” – the apparent incompatibility between humans’ disposition to seek pleasure and their frequent voluntary exposure to unpleasant and even painful art-related experiences. Korsmeyer’s provisional solution to the paradox is based on the realization that pleasure is not an emotion but rather “an intense absorption in an object that induces us to continue rather than halt an experience.” This opens the possibility that the pleasure we take from a work of art retains a cognitive element such that we gain unique insight from what would, outside of the art context, have given us pain. Korsmeyer speaks of an “aesthetic conversion” whereby disgust and fear are transfigured into vehicles of absorption, and thus become aesthetically pleasurable. Since disgust and its magnetic force are of material interest to performance artists and their critics, Korsmeyer’s treatment of the paradox of aversion helps re-contextualize an important art historical issue.

Comment: Interesting to teach following classes on the paradox of horror, and perhaps even alongside (some of) Noel Carroll’s writings on horror.

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Robinson, Jenefer, , . Deeper Than Reason: Emotion and its Role in Literature, Music, and Art
2005, Clarendon Press.
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner, Contributed by: Christy Mag Uidhir

Publisher’s Note: Jenefer Robinson takes the insights of modern scientific research on the emotions and uses them to illuminate questions about our emotional involvement with the arts. Laying out a theory of emotion supported by the best evidence from current empirical work, she examines some of the ways in which the emotions function in the arts. Written in a clear and engaging style, her book will make fascinating reading for anyone interested in the emotions and how they work, as well as anyone engaged with the arts and aesthetics.

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Robinson, Jenefer, , . The expression and arousal of emotion in music
1994, Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 52 (1):13-22.
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner, Contributed by: Christy Mag Uidhir

Abstract: This essay is about the relation between the expression and the arousal of emotion by music. I am assuming that music frequently expresses emotional qualities and qualities of human personality such as sadness, nobility, aggressiveness, tenderness, and serenity. I am also assuming that music frequently affects us emotionally: it evokes or arouses emotions in us. My question is whether there is any connection between these two facts, whether, in particular, music ever expresses emotion by virtue of arousing emotion. Of course, what it means to say that music expresses emotion is a contentious issue and I shall not be directly addressing it here, although what I say will have implications for any theory of musical expression. Nor will I be examining all the possible contexts in which music can be said to arouse emotion. My focus in this essay will be narrower. The question I shall try to answer is this: Are the grounds on which we attribute the expression of emotion to music ever to be identified with the arousal of that same emotion in listeners?

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