Suspend Your Disbelief

Posts Tagged ‘lit studies’

Shop Talk |

In Praise of Brevity, Part I: a "balm for those who fear brusqueness"

For The Smart Set, Ryan Bigge offers this thoughtful history of concision in writing, from Zen koans and poetry to the telegram, to Twitter. (Thanks, Kathryn, for the link.) Through a series of wide-ranging examples (including a four-minute/one-word-in-variations scene from HBO’s The Wire and a single-character telegraph from Oscar Wilde to his publisher), he suggests that Twitter, far from symbolizing the end of thoughtful communication, evolves from an age-old writerly value: economy. Positing that “constraints generate creativity and that the utility of concision depends on context,” Bigge also acknowledges that “being laconic can […] belittle,” and that working in a […]

Shop Talk |

mind your manners

Did you learn your manners from reading Victorian novels? I find this scientific study fascinating…but I’d argue that if novels like Pride and Prejudice teach us how to behave as a society, they also beg us to misbehave, or at least to deviate from a “normal” path (and thank god!). Excerpt from a article (thanks, Tori!): Researchers believe the novels act like “social glue”, providing instructions on how society should behave. In particular they believe that the novel reinforces beliefs that maintain the community and warn against destructive influences and character traits. The study suggests that good literature “could […]

Shop Talk |

gimme fiction!

According to a new report by the NEA (“Reading on the Rise: A New Chapter in American Literacy”), the percentage of US adults reading fiction is growing for the first time in a quarter-century (chart borrowed from the NY Times). But I’m not ready to hit the street with pom-poms and a marching band just yet: a higher percentage of Americans were reading literature in the late 20th century–and it kind of blows my mind that only 50.2% of my fellow citizens have read even one novel, short story, poem, or play in the past year…

Shop Talk |

the fiction of development

A new report called The Fiction of Development: Literary Representation as a Source of Authoritative Knowledge praises literary fiction as an important resource for a global society. To quote the Guardian‘s Books Blog: A team from Manchester University and the London School of Economics claim that stories and their writers can do just as much as academics and policy researchers, perhaps even more, to explain and communicate the world’s problems. Fiction, they boldly venture, can be just as useful as fact. You can read the report in its entirety (including a recommended reading list) here.

Shop Talk |

fiction as social grace

According to this recent study, fiction makes you more empathetic–and therefore less socially awkward. If you’re British, you can even use those bookish charms to find love on PenguinDating, “where book lovers meet.” From the Penguin Blog: Sure, some of us might be trapped in joyless, loveless relationships with people who get upset because we were looking at online dating websites, even though it’s for PERFECTLY REASONABLE reasons like fabricating a picture of a King Penguin with a profile KATE. But there are others out there yet to find that special joyless, loveless relationship in which to get trapped. […]