Homo Empathicus (2014) by Rebekka Kricheldorf. Empathy and disability in contemporary theatre (2021/2022)

Course code
cod wi: DT000321
Name of lecturer
Massimo Salgaro
Massimo Salgaro
Number of ECTS credits allocated
Academic sector
Language of instruction
A.A. 21/22 dottorato dal Oct 1, 2021 al Sep 30, 2022.

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Learning outcomes

Introduction to "Homo Empathicus" in the perspective of disability studies.


The play Homo Empathicus describes a community in which the distinguishing traits of religion, biological sex, and age have disappeared or are in the process of being dissolved. In representing this hyperempathic society, Kricheldorf takes the ethic of “political correctness” to the extreme. To accomplish this end, Kricheldorf invented the character of the “language therapist,” Dr. Osho, whose skill in conversation is to use Wegsprechen”—that is, to “remove negativity through speech.” Concrete measures have also been taken to eliminate all forms of discrimination on the basis of biological sex, age, or job category. In Homo Empathicus, the elderly become “Long-Lived,” and the young are “Young-Lived.” The grave digger is an “Earth-Rester,” the gardener is a “Development Expert,” and the manager of a public spa is a “Hygiene Specialist.” This utopian society is dominated by language taboos: Words such as “firing, “ugly, “suffering,” and “deficiency” are banned. This “brave new world,” a caricature in a number of aspects, all edges are smoothed and all conflict is avoided. In this appearently perfect society disability plays a key role.

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