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Abstract

The claim that the arts have an instrumental role in making more empathic citizens has taken hold in our funding bodies. Creative Scotland’s (2016) recent strategic plan holds that “By offering alternative perspectives and experiences the arts can help us to make sense of the world, generate empathy, influence how we live and work together, and help us express and form societal values.” (p. 15). The Arts and Humanities Research Council (Crossick and Kaszynski, 2016) found that “The enlarged experiences with cultural engagement can be unpacked in various ways: an improved understanding of oneself, an ability to reflect on different aspects of one’s own life, an enhanced sense of empathy which need not mean sympathy for others, but an empathetic appreciation of their difference, and a sense of the diversity of human experience and cultures.” And in the United States, the National Endowment for the Arts entitled an essay collection on translation in literature The Art of Empathy (2014). In her preface, Chairman Jane Chu wrote “The essays in this collection illuminate how translation fosters this sense of empathy – understanding how people from different countries might feel and act. ... Bringing other voices to the American public, voices that we might not hear otherwise, makes the country as a whole a better place. Given the wide array of ethnicities and traditions in this country, translation helps bring us together and accept the differences among us.” (p. i).

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