"When we give students writing assignments, the purpose is often to share ideas and demonstrate understanding. We have students write persuasive essays to demonstrate their ability to make and support arguments, or write answers to questions that we use to assess their understanding. But, as Joan Didion explains, writing can also be a way to develop understanding."
Nowadays, we associate the word with any work of fiction that depicts a "bad place," typically set in the near future. Here's my roundup of books that help track the evolution of the "bad place" in literature, from Tudor times to 2013.
Here's a report on a series of studies that purport to show that reading a few minutes of "literary fiction" improves scores on a test of emotional empathy ("Reading the Mind in the Eyes"), compared to reading non-fiction. Reading popular fiction did nothing to improve scores over those of non-reading controls.
New York Times
People ranging in age from 18 to 75 were recruited for each of five experiments. They were paid $2 or $3 each to read for a few minutes. Some were given excerpts from award-winning literary fiction (Don DeLillo, Wendell Berry). Others were given best sellers like Gillian Flynn’s “Gone Girl,” a Rosamunde Pilcher romance or a Robert Heinlein science fiction tale.
...As I have suggested before, I would rather engage in psychotherapy with a therapist who reads Dostoevsky and Melville than with one who reads books about the brain. It would be lovely if a case could be built that shows that the reading of literature can make you a better (e.g., more empathetic) person.
A lecture explaining why using our imaginations, and providing for others to use theirs, is an obligation for all citizens (Neil Gaiman on why our future depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming: http://t.co/CFmKrtxPIM #literature...
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