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  • Emily Dickinson said over a century ago

  • that there is no frigate like a book to take us lands away,

  • and it's true.

  • When we pick up a book, turn on the TV, or watch a movie,

  • We're carried away down the currents of story into a world of imagination.

  • And when we land, on a shore that is both new and familiar,

  • something strange happens.

  • Stepping on to the shore, we're changed.

  • We don't retrace the footsteps of the authors or characters we followed here:

  • no. Instead we walk a mile in their shoes.

  • Researchers in psychology, neuroscience, child development, and biology

  • are finally starting to gain quantifiable scientific evidence

  • showing what writers and readers have always known:

  • That stories have a unique ability to change a person's point of view.

  • Scholars are discovering evidence that stories shape culture

  • and that much of what we believe about life comes not from fact

  • but from fiction, that our ideas

  • of class, marriage, and even gender

  • are relatively new, and that many ideologies which held fast for centuries

  • were revised within the 18th century, and re-drafted in the pages of the early novel.

  • Imagine a world where class, and not hard work, decide a person's worth.

  • A world where women are simply men's more untamed copy.

  • A world where marriage for love is a novel notion.

  • Well, that was the world in which Samuel Richardson's Pamela first appeared.

  • Richardson's love story starred a poor, serving-class heroine

  • who is both morally superior and smarter than her upper-class suitor.

  • The book, challenging a slew of traditions,

  • caused quite a ruckus.

  • There was more press for Pamela than for Parliament.

  • It spawned intense debate and several counter-novels.

  • Still, for all those who couldn't accept Pamela,

  • others were eager for this new fictional world.

  • This best-seller, and all its literary heirs,

  • Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, and yes, even Twilight,

  • Have continuously shared the same tale, and taught similar lessons

  • which are now conventional and commonplace.

  • Similarly, novels have helped shape the minds

  • of thought leaders across history.

  • Some scholars say that Darwin's Theory of Evolution

  • is highly indebted to the plots he read and loved.

  • His theory privileges intelligence,

  • swiftness, and adaptability to change- all core characteristics in a hero.

  • Whether you're reading Harry Potter or Great Expectations,

  • you're reading the kind of plot that inspired Darwin.

  • Yet recent studies show that his theory might not be the whole story,

  • our sense of being a hero- one man, or one woman, or even one species

  • taking on the challenges of the world might be wrong.

  • Instead of being hard-wired for competition,

  • for being the solitary heroes in our own story,

  • we might instead be members of a shared quest.

  • More Hobbit than Harry.

  • Sometimes, of course, the shoes we've been walking in can get plain worn out.

  • After all, we haven't walked just one mile in Jane Austen or Mark Twain's shoes,

  • we've walked about a hundred trillion miles in them.

  • This isn't to say that we can't read and enjoy the classics,

  • we should travel with Dickens,

  • let Pip teach us what to expect from ourselves,

  • have a talk with Austen and Elizabeth about our prides and prejudices.

  • We should float with Twain down the Mississippi,

  • and have Jim show us what it means to be good.

  • But on our journey, we should also keep in mind

  • that the terrain has changed. We'll start shopping around for boots

  • that were made for walking into a new era.

  • Take, for instance, Katniss Everdeen and her battle with the Capitol.

  • Can Hunger Games lead us into thinking about capitalism in a new way?

  • Can it teach us a lesson about why the individual should not put herself before the group?

  • Will Uglies reflect the dangers of pursuing a perfect body

  • and letting the media define what is beautiful?

  • Will Seekers trod a path beyond global warming?

  • Will the life and death struggles of Toklo,

  • Kallik, Lusa, and the other bears chart a course for understanding animals

  • and our place in their world?

  • Only the future will tell which stories will engage our imagination,

  • which tales of make-believe we'll make tomorrow,

  • but the good news is this:

  • There are new stories to venture in every day.

  • New tales that promise to influence, to create, and to spark change.

  • Stories that you might even write yourself.

  • So I guess the final question is this:

  • what story will you try on next?

Emily Dickinson said over a century ago

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B1 TED-Ed pamela world richardson austen twain

【TED-Ed】How fiction can change reality - Jessica Wise

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    VoiceTube posted on 2013/06/06
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