Amy Coplan

Associate Professor of Philosophy

Assistant Professor, Cal State Fullerton in Orange County, CA

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Focus of Dissertation and Advisor

While at Emory, I had two advisors: Richard Patterson and Cynthia Willett; they co-directed my dissertation. My dissertation focused on issues in moral psychology and aesthetics. In the first half, I developed an account of empathy and examined how empathy differs from related processes often confused with it. I also considered the role of empathy in social and moral life.

In the second half of the dissertation, I argued that one of the main ways that spectators engage characters in narrative fiction films is through empathy. I then discussed some ways in which empathic engagement with characters in narrative fiction films may influence social and moral life. Currently I am still doing research in this area, focusing in particular on empathy and on emotional engagement with film more generally. I am also very interested in Plato's moral psychology and aesthetics.

I enjoy teaching a lot, especially ancient Greek philosophy, philosophy of literature and film, and introduction to philosophy (it's true!). I especially like teaching Plato and Aristotle, and thinkers like bell hooks, Susan Bordo, Douglas Kellner, and Carol Clover, all of whom engage in philosophical analyses and critique of contemporary popular culture.

I'm currently serving as the executive secretary for the Pacific Division of the Society for Women in Philosophy. I'm also organizing an interdisciplinary, international conference on empathy that will take place at Cal State Fullerton on June 22-23.