The Secrets of Storytelling

That difference in gender stereotypes he suggests may

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Unformatted text preview: e egalitarian and less patriarchal. “We couldn’t even find one culture that had more emphasis on male beauty,” Gottschall notes, explaining that the study sample had three times as many male as compared with female main characters and six times as many references to female beauty as to male beauty. That difference in gender stereotypes, he suggests, may reflect the classic Darwinian emphasis on reproductive health in women, signified by youth and beauty, and on the desirable male ability to provide for a family, signaled by physical power and success. Other common narrative themes reveal our basic wants 50 SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN MIND Au gu s t / S e p te m b e r 2 0 0 8 PA S I E K A S P L / P h o t o R e s e a r c h e r s , I n c . and needs. “Narrative involves agents pursuing some goal,” says Patrick Colm Hogan, professor of English and comparative literature at the University of Connecticut. “The standard goals are partially a result of how our emotion systems are set up.” Hogan does not consider himself a literary Darwinist, but his research on everything from Hindu epic poems such as the R amayana to modern fi lm adaptations of Shakespeare supports the idea that stories reveal something about human emotions seated in the mind. As many as two thirds of the most respected stories in narrative traditions seem to be variations on three narrative patterns, or prototypes, according to Hogan. The two more common prototypes are romantic and heroic scenarios — the former focuses on the trials and travails of love, whereas People accept ideas more readily when their minds are in story mode as opposed to an analytical mind-set. Merlot sales plummeted after Paul Giamatti’s character snubbed the red wine in the movie Sideways. M E R I E W. WA L L AC E F o x S e a r c h l i g h t P i c t u r e s / T h e Ko b a l C o l l e c t i o n the latter deals with power struggles. The third prototype, he latter deals with pow dubbed “sacrificial” by Hogan, focuses on agrarian plenty versus famine as well as on societal redemption. These themes appear over and over again as humans create n...
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This note was uploaded on 10/22/2010 for the course WPC 301 taught by Professor Burns during the Fall '08 term at ASU.

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