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University of Central Missouri
Administration 302
Warrensburg, MO 64093
Phone: 660-543-4640
Fax: 660-543-4943


Author of "The Storytelling Animal" to Visit UCM Nov. 13

Contact: Jeff Murphy
WARRENSBURG, MO (Nov. 6, 2013) – A highlight of the University of Central Missouri’s Fall 2013 One Campus, One Book Common Reader program will be a visit to UCM Wednesday, Nov. 13 by Jonathan Gottschall, author of  “The Storytelling Animal.”

Jonathan Gotschall
Jonathan Gottschall

Gottschall is a prominent English professor and author or editor of five scholarly books. While on campus, he will facilitate a Book Talk at 11 a.m. at Hendricks Hall and a 7 p.m. keynote address in Elliott Student Union 236, followed by a book signing. The campus community is invited to attend both of these sessions.

The One Campus, One Book Common Reader program engages the campus in an academically-driven experience, intended to bring meaningful conversations on relevant and complex subjects beyond the classroom and into students’ daily lives. As part of this experience, “The Storytelling Animal” has been incorporated into English 1020 classroom discussions and at least nine other courses throughout the 2013 fall semester.  A number of special public activities such as book talks also have taken place during the semester to help engage students, faculty and staff in discussions about this literary work.

“The Storytelling Animal” offers a theory on storytelling and how storytelling has evolved to play an important role in the survival of humankind. Gottschall draws from scientific research to show how storytelling helps people to navigate through complex social problems and personal issues. He also addresses the darker side of storytelling, ranging from its contributions to national myths and conspiracy theories to fueling the ambitions of some notorious world figures.

Shari Bax, vice provost for student experience and engagement at UCM, has played a leadership role in establishing the university’s common reader program. She said “UCM’s One Campus, One Book program provides an opportunity for students from a diversity of backgrounds to learn about their similarities and differences through a shared academic experience, and it provides the entire community a common point for dialogue.”

“Jonathan Gottschall’s ‘Storytelling Animal’ provides an interesting framework with which everyone can relate but in different ways; we all have stories that have shaped our lives and help ground us,” Bax added. “The employment of stories to define social norms and provide structure by which we can better explore and understand complex social issues is a phenomenon that stretches across disciplines providing an interesting perspective to a variety of topics.”

“The Storytelling Animal” is available at the University Store in the lower level of the Elliott Student Union.