This week I’ve chosen to look at, The storytelling animal: How stories make us human by Jonathan Gottschall. I was interested to read about the forthcoming Ink: well project and thought I would like to learn more about the psychology of storytelling. Gottschall suggests that human beings are immersed in the fantastic world of make-believe. We are hungry for stories, be they novels, films or plays about sporting events, criminal trials or love, in fact storytelling has evolved, like other behaviours, to ensure our survival. He builds on recent research to assert that stories can help us to navigate life’s more complex problems in the same way as a simulator can help a pilot prepare for difficult situations in the air.
Neuroscientists are beginning to study our responses to fiction and have discovered that our brains react as though we are experiencing the action in the novel or film; anger, fright, love. I’ll be choosing my stories carefully in future! The book concludes with a glimpse in to the future of the story and the notion that as “digital technology evolves, our stories – ubiquitous, immersive, interactive – may become dangerously attractive…the story will take over completely.” As long as the stories have happy endings, then I’m okay with that.
To find out more about all aspects of storytelling, try out Literary Reference Center which is brilliant for literature assignments as it contains the full text of thousands of critical articles and book chapters, plus biographical details and plot summaries which you can listen to.