The power of stories to raise our concern for animals has been postulated throughout history by countless scholars, activists, and writers, including such greats as Thomas Hardy and Leo Tolstoy. This is the first book to investigate that power and explain the psychological and cultural mechanisms behind it. It does so by presenting the results of an experimental project that involved thousands of participants, texts representing various genres and national literatures, and the cooperation of an internationally-acclaimed bestselling author. Combining psychological research with insights from animal studies, ecocriticism and other fields in the environmental humanities, the book not only provides evidence that animal stories can make us care for other species, but also shows that their effects are more complex and fascinating than we have ever thought. In this way, the book makes a groundbreaking contribution to the study of relations between literature and the nonhuman world as well as to the study of how literature changes our minds and society.
"As witnessed by novels like Black Beauty and Uncle Tom’s Cabin, a good story can move public opinion on contentious social issues. In Human Minds and Animal Stories a team of specialists in psychology, biology, and literature tells how they discovered the power of narratives to shift our views about the treatment of other species. Beautifully written and based on dozens of experiments with thousands of subjects, this book will appeal to animal advocates, researchers, and general readers looking for a compelling real-life detective story." - Hal Herzog, author of Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat : Why It’s So Hard To Think Straight About Animals
Chapter 1 Texts, Statistics, and Deception: On Our Investigative Method
Chapter 2 A Monkey, a Book, and Facebook, or How to Catch a Story in the Act
Chapter 3 Does It Matter If It Is True? On Slaughterhouses, Fiction, and Non-Fiction
Chapter 4 Does It Matter How It Is Told? On Species, Stylistics, and Voices
Chapter 5 Does It Matter Who It Is About? On Chimpanzees, Lizards, and Other Main Characters
Chapter 6 How Does It Work? From Readerly Pleasure to Animal Cruelty
Chapter 7 How Long Will It Work? A Short Chapter on Attitudinal Impact Over Time
Conclusions, Speculations, and Prospects
"frames the issues of reader empathy, creating a template for accumulating and coding the data of how people come to care about something, and how reading may modify their behavior"
--Randy Malamud, Department of English, Georgia State University, USA, ANTHROZOÖS, 2021
"Apart from offering a gripping real-life detective narrative, the publication presents an introduction to novel research regarding the experimental study of literature…[for] anyone looking for inspiration and hard scientific evidence to create narratives that can make a difference in the world."
--Luiza Dubicka, Diggit magazine, 2020
"Human Minds and Animal Stories is an outstanding book ... extremely well researched, the ideas are clearly presented, and the individual chapters also serve as a perfect introduction to the field of empirical literary studies."
-- Jan Alber, Scientific Study of Literature (Vol. 11:1 (2021), pp. 142–146.