Stacy Hartman

Stacy Hartman is a literary scholar with a passion for improving teaching and learning. Her academic interests include cognitive cultural studies, narrative studies, and affect in literature, as well as how all of these fields intersect in the humanities classroom. Her dissertation, titled “The Ethics of Emotion: The Dialectic of Empathy and Estrangement in Postwar German Literature and Film,” looks at the invocation and disruption of empathy and emotion in post-1945 German texts. She based her research in the work of cognitive psychologists and neuroscientists, and attempted to transfer work that has been done in those fields on popular literature to the realm of the postmodern. In doing so, she was able to see where and how empathic reading practices fall apart.

In her post-PhD life, Stacy is interested in pursuing a follow-up project that looks at popular culture texts with morally antagonist protagonists, such as Netflix’s House of Cards, and consider how they render their protagonists emotionally and morally legible to viewers, who adopt the character’s goals and perhaps even his morality as their own for the duration of the show. The question of what these shows are accomplishing from aesthetic, ethical, and cognitive angles remains to be fully investigated, as does their appeal in our particular historical and political moment.

Stacy is also interested in continuing research, begun during her PhD at Stanford, using the Lacuna Stories platform. Lacuna Stories is a digital tool designed for use in a humanities classroom, in which students are able to annotate texts, view other students’ annotations, and “sew” their annotations together to track themes across texts. It is therefore possible to track students’ reading in a way that has heretofore been difficult, and to view in near real time their reactions to texts. She would like to undertake a project at the intersection of cognitive science, narrative studies, and pedagogical research that examines the impact of affect and emotion for humanities students, as well as the potential uses of social reading practices. Currently she is in the process of co-authoring a detailed analysis of the use of the platform in a course at Stanford in Winter 2015.

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