Literary Universals

Modeled on the study of linguistic universals, the Literary Universals Project has two specific purposes. First, it should facilitate access to established work on literary universals, which has otherwise been scattered. Second, it should foster the advancement of further research on literary universals. These specific purposes should in turn contribute to our more general knowledge about literature and, ultimately, our understanding of the human mind and human society.


(860) 486-2141
University of Connecticut
Department of English
215 Glenbrook Road, U-4025
Storrs, CT 06269-4025

Recent Articles

  • Comments on Hogan: Impossible Love and Henry Fielding’s Tom Jones
    Nigel Fabb, Strathclyde University, U.K. When we read Tom Jones for the first time, we may worry that Tom might engage in an impossible love—incest—because we do not know who Tom’s father is, but we seem to know who his mother is (see Hogan, “Impossible Love“). The two young women he sleeps with, Molly and Sophia, […]
  • Impossible Love: A Sub-Genre of Romantic Stories
    Patrick Colm Hogan, University of Connecticut Recently, I read a number of Seventeenth-Century Chinese stories as well as some classical Roman works that reminded me of one another and that led me to recall some South Asian and Native American stories that I had read earlier. They were all versions of the cross-culturally recurring romantic […]
  • Narrative Empathy: A Universal Response to Fiction?
    Suzanne Keen, Washington and Lee University The proposition that narrative empathy[1] qualifies as a literary universal could have no less likely an advocate than me. I have argued that no one narrative reliably evokes empathy from all its readers, listeners, or viewers (Empathy and the Novel, 65-84).  I have also suggested that the co-creative work […]