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The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human
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Published:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2012
Status:
Available from OverDrive
Description
"Insightful...draws from disparate corners of history and science to celebrate our compulsion to storify everything around us."—The New York Times Book Review

Humans live in landscapes of make-believe. We spin fantasies. We devour novels, films, and plays. Even sporting events and criminal trials unfold as narratives. Yet the world of story has remained an undiscovered and unmapped country. It's easy to say that humans are "wired" for story, but why?
In this delightful, original book, Jonathan Gottschall offers the first unified theory of storytelling. He argues that stories help us navigate life's complex social problems—just as flight simulators prepare pilots for difficult situations. Storytelling has evolved, like other behaviors, to ensure our survival. Drawing on the latest research in neuroscience, psychology, and evolutionary biology, Gottschall tells us what it means to be a storytelling animal. Did you know that the more absorbed you are in a story, the more it changes your behavior? That all children act out the same kinds of stories, whether they grow up in a slum or a suburb? That people who read more fiction are more empathetic?
Of course, our story instinct has a darker side. It makes us vulnerable to conspiracy theories, advertisements, and narratives about ourselves that are more "truthy" than true. National myths can also be terribly dangerous: Hitler's ambitions were partly fueled by a story. But as Gottschall shows, stories can also powerfully change the world for the better. We know we are master shapers of story. The Storytelling Animal finally reveals how stories shape us.

"Lively."—San Francisco Chronicle

"Absorbing."—Minneapolis Star Tribune

"One of my favorite evolutionary psych writers—always insightful and witty."—Steven Pinker
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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
4/10/2012
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780547644813
ASIN:
B005LVR6BO
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Citations
APA Citation (style guide)

Jonathan Gottschall. (2012). The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Jonathan Gottschall. 2012. The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Jonathan Gottschall, The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Jonathan Gottschall. The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012. Web.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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Date Updated:
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"Insightful...draws from disparate corners of history and science to celebrate our compulsion to storify everything around us."—The New York Times Book Review

Humans live in landscapes of make-believe. We spin fantasies. We devour novels, films, and plays. Even sporting events and criminal trials unfold as narratives. Yet the world of story has remained an undiscovered and unmapped country. It's easy to say that humans are "wired" for story, but why?
In this delightful, original book, Jonathan Gottschall offers the first unified theory of storytelling. He argues that stories help us navigate life's complex social problems—just as flight simulators prepare pilots for difficult situations. Storytelling has evolved, like other behaviors, to ensure our survival. Drawing on the latest research in neuroscience, psychology, and evolutionary biology, Gottschall tells us what it means to be a storytelling animal. Did you know that the more absorbed you are in a story, the more it changes your behavior? That all children act out the same kinds of stories, whether they grow up in a slum or a suburb? That people who read more fiction are more empathetic?
Of course, our story instinct has a darker side. It makes us vulnerable to conspiracy theories, advertisements, and narratives about ourselves that are more "truthy" than true. National myths can also be terribly dangerous: Hitler's ambitions were partly fueled by a story. But as Gottschall shows, stories can also powerfully change the world for the better. We know we are master shapers of story. The Storytelling Animal finally reveals how stories shape us.

"Lively."—San Francisco Chronicle

"Absorbing."—Minneapolis Star Tribune

"One of my favorite evolutionary psych writers—always insightful and witty."—Steven Pinker
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        December 19, 2011
        This at times cloying and circular extended essay—parts sociology, anthropology, psychology, and literary criticism—seeks to answer one of those sticky questions about human nature: why do we have a fundamental need for story? For Gottschall, who teaches English at Washington & Jefferson College, story serves an evolutionary purpose; it’s hard-wired into our brains. Story creation, like dreaming, helps us judge wrongdoing. It is also how we “practice the human skills of social life”—even if we don’t consciously remember the story and its lessons. Gottschall interprets “story” broadly: even the vagaries of memory are a form of fictionalization: false memories show how one’s past, like one’s future, is a realm of fantasy for which we are hard-wired. But Gottschall’s evolutionary argument is circular: we are hard-wired for fiction because it is good for us; and we are drawn to fiction because our brains are wired for it. Yet if the argument and approach are scattershot, the writing can be engaging. 74 photos.

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"Insightful...draws from disparate corners of history and science to celebrate our compulsion to storify everything around us."—The New York Times Book Review

Humans live in landscapes of make-believe. We spin fantasies. We devour novels, films, and plays. Even sporting events and criminal trials unfold as narratives. Yet the world of story has remained an undiscovered and unmapped country. It's easy to say that humans are "wired" for story, but why?
In this delightful, original book, Jonathan Gottschall offers the first unified theory of storytelling. He argues that stories help us navigate life's complex social problems—just as flight simulators prepare pilots for difficult situations. Storytelling has evolved, like other behaviors, to ensure our survival. Drawing on the latest research in neuroscience, psychology, and evolutionary biology, Gottschall tells us what it means to be a storytelling animal. Did you know that the...
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