Literature: More Than it Was Cracked Up To Be

Remember the six elements of the Conceptual Age that Pink argues we have moved into?

That’s okay if you don’t. Unlike my students, you don’t have a quiz (or a test) on the topic.

One of the six elements was narrative.

In 1986 psychologist Jerome Bruner, now at New York University School of Law, argued persuasively that narrative is a distinctive and important mode of thought. It elaborates our conceptions of human or humanlike agents and explores how their intentions collide with reality.

Earlier, the article, from Scientific American says:

[W]riters and readers … use fictional characters to think about people in the social world.

Psychologists once scoffed at fiction as a way of understanding people because—well—it’s made up. But in the past 25 years cognitive psychologists have developed a new appreciation for the significance of stories. Just as computer simulations have helped us understand perception, learning and thinking, stories are simulations of a kind that can help readers understand not just the characters in books but human character in general.

Literature is important to life in general. Not just to a well-rounded education or to a liberal arts degree, but to life in its full and varied forms.

Something to think about.

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