Fall 2024

Telling Stories

Listed in: First Year Seminar, as FYSE-120


Molly Mead (Sections 01 and 02)


We all like a good story. But why? And what is a good story? Neurobiologists have documented the chemical changes that occur in our brains when we listen to a well told story. Hannah Arendt argues that who we are is best determined by the stories others tell about us, not the stories we tell about ourselves. TED talks have over-determined that all ideas worth sharing must be explained in 18 minutes, no more or less; with compelling graphics, of course. Stories are a feature of cultures around the world, and elements of both universality and diversity can be found in storytelling norms. The explosion of oral history work has done much to add the stories of “regular” people to historical narratives about events deemed worth remembering. It is possible that a story well told can compel listeners to behave more altruistically.

Fall semester. Lecturer Mead.

How to handle overenrollment: however first year enrollments are handled

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: Emphasis on written work.

Course Materials


Other years: Offered in Fall 2022, Fall 2023, Fall 2024