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The Art of Storytelling Series: The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human

Tuesday, November 13, 2018 - 6:00pm to 7:00pm
Reception to follow
Registration is required
Members $10 and Non-members $15

The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human

Jonathan Gottschall

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 stories. 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.


Praised by Steven Pinker as a “brilliant young scholar” and “one of my favorite writers,” Jonathan Gottschall is a Distinguished Fellow in the English Department at Washington & Jefferson College and a leading figure in a new movement to bridge the two cultures of the sciences and the humanities. His writing at the intersection of science and art has been covered by the New York Times, New York Times Magazine, Scientific American, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Oprah Magazine, Chronicle of Higher Education, Science, Nature, and shows like Radiolab and Morning Edition. Jonathan is the author or editor of seven books, including a memoir of training at a cage fighting gym The Professor in the Cage: Why Men Fight and Why We Like to Watch and The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human, which was a New York Times Editor’s Choice and a finalist for the LA Times Book Prize. Born in Turners Falls, Massachusetts, Gottschall now lives in Washington, Pennsylvania, with his wife and two daughters.


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Most programs held in the Bayard Henry Long Room on the Athenaeum's first floor are amplified and assistive listening devices are available for patron use.

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To request ASL interpretation services for any of the Athenaeum's programs, please contact Hannah Weisman at 617-720-7617 or