Ideas

Vestigial Tale, Part 1: What science tells us about the human drive to tell stories

Analysing stories is usually territory claimed by writers, critics, and university scholars. But recently, evolutionary psychologists have begun to look at the human propensity for storytelling from a scientific perspective. Why are we humans such suckers for a good story? Literary critics find the answer in story structure, characters, and plotlines. The literary Darwinists find the answer in evolution.
Paleolithic cave paintings in Lascaux, France: humans are a storytelling species. (Wikipedia)
Listen to the full episode54:00

Analysing stories is usually territory claimed by writers, critics, and university scholars. But recently, evolutionary psychologists have begun to look at the human propensity for storytelling from a scientific perspective. Why are we humans such suckers for a good story? Literary critics find the answer in story structure, characters, and plotlines. The literary Darwinists find the answer in evolution.  Documentary-maker Chris Brookes looks at the evolutionary origins of human storytelling. Part 2 airs Friday, June 23. **This episode originally aired on May 26, 2015.

 

Participants in the programs:

  • Jonathan Gottschall, literary scholar  at Washington and Jefferson College in Pennsylvania, and author of the book The Storytelling Animal.

  • Brian Boyd, distinguished professor at University of Aukland and author of the book On The Origin of Stories

  • Martin Lovelace - associate professor of folklore at Memorial University of Newfoundland.

  • Documentary makers Annie McEwen, Rob Rosenthal. Dublin storyteller Aideen McBride. Newfoundland storytellers Carl Pearcey, Mary Fearon, Andy Jones. Beekeeper Aubrey Golding. Writer Elizabeth de Mariafi. ​Kora musician and singer Boujou Cissoko.


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