Does Fiction Make Us Good?

Image: Kamil Porembiński Via: Flickr Creative Commons
05.04.2014

Who doesn’t love a good book? We all know a great novel can change the way we see the world, but what about the way we treat each other? This week, we explore the benefits of reading fiction, and find out if it makes us more moral.

And if you're wondering if movies can make us more caring, we did some digging on that too. Read all about it, here.

  1. The Psychology of Fiction - Keith Oatley

    We all love the feeling of getting lost in a good story and seeing the world through a character’s eyes.  Recently, psychologists have been studying whether that experience actually changes readers. Novelist and cognitive psychologist Keith Oatley tells us about the latest research connecting fiction with empathy.

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  2. Sonic Sidebar: Literature Behind Bars

    In a small prison just outside Madison, groups of inmates get together to read and discuss classic novels and poetry. They’re part of The Oakhill Prison Humanities project and featured in the new documentary, Dostoyevsky Behind Bars. It follows the inmates and the University of Wisconsin graduate students who teach them. Naomi Olson led a Russian literature course at the prison. Here’s her story.

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  3. In Defense of the Sentimental - Leslie Jamison

    Writer Leslie Jamison believes critics are too quick to dismiss sentimentality in fiction. She tells producer Sara Nics how even trashy movies can offer a route to better self-understanding.

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  4. Fiction and Morality - Joshua Landy

    Recent research has shown a connection between reading fiction and social understanding, but does it make us good?  Joshua Landy co-directs the Literature and Philosophy Initiative at Stanford and is the author of How to Do Things With Fictions. He believes reading literature can transform people – just not morally.

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  5. Watch This! "Salinger" & "Shakespeare Uncovered"

    This week in Watch This! we talk about "Salinger" and "Shakespeare Uncovered."

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  6. On Our Minds: Shakespeare's Influence

    Stephen Marche is the author of "How Shakespeare Changed Everything."  He tells Anne Strainchamps why he thinks Shakespeare is the most important figure in history who influenced everything from starlings to the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.

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