Washington & Jefferson College
The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human
Co-sponsored with Toastmasters International – Leaders and Learners
October 7, 2013
Academic Building A G008, 5:00 PM
Humans are the storytelling animal. We thrill to an astonishing multitude of fictions on pages, on stages, and on screens: murder stories, sex stories, war stories, conspiracy stories, true stories and false. We are, as a species, addicted to story. But the addiction runs deeper than we think. We can walk away from our books and our screens, but not from story. We dream, fantasize, and socialize in stories. Story infiltrates every aspect of how we live and think. Did you know that fiction enhances our empathy? Did you know that stories have brought on wars, inspired atrocities, and driven massive social change? Did you know that we all boldly fictionalize the stories of our own lives? In this talk, Jonathan Gottschall leads a whirligig tour of a new science of stories—why we shape them, and how they shape us.
Jonathan Gottschall writes books at the intersection of science and art. His most recent work, The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human (a New York Times Editor’s Choice selection and a finalist for the LA Times Book Prize), draws on the latest research in neuroscience, psychology and biology to show how storytelling has evolved as a fundamental human instinct.
Jonathan teaches in the English Department at Washington & Jefferson College in Pennsylvania and blogs about the mysteries of storytelling at Psychology Today. His work has been featured in outlets such as The New York Times, Nature, Scientific American, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Oprah Magazine, and NPR’s Morning Edition and All Things Considered. Described by Steven Pinker as “a brilliant young scholar,” Jonathan is the author or editor of six books, including The Rape of Troy: Evolution, Violence and the World of Homer and Literature, Science, and a New Humanities.
The preface, first chapter, and most of the second chapter of The Storytelling Animal can be read for free on Google Books. http://books.google.com/books?id=Bl43cU5rdVwC&printsec=frontcover&dq=storytelling+animal&hl=en&sa=X&ei=YWYSUvbsCOPE4APTxIHoAw&ved=0CDUQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q&f=false