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.
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.
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.
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.
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.