Serial Reproduction of Narratives: Vulnerability in the Grimm Fairy Tales
Thursday, October 13, 2022, 4:30pm-6pm
Academic Building, Room 4052 (West Wing)
Psychologists use the term “serial reproduction” to describe a technique of repeated retellings as in the telephone game to distill the basic mental schema of stories and communication. What happens when people retell stories in communication chains? The talk will first present experimental data of story retelling, and then focus on the famous collection of the German folk tales by the Grimm Brothers that had been communicated orally for generations before the Grimms collected them. In these tales, the vulnerability of the protagonists emerges as a weapon that leads them to a victorious end.
Fritz Breithaupt is Provost Professor at Indiana University in Germanic Studies and Cognitive Science. His research includes German and European literature and philosophy since the 18th century, Goethe, history of money, cognitive approaches to literature, empathy, and narrative thinking. His recent books are The Dark Sides of Empathy (Cornell University Press, 2019) and Das narrative Gehirn/The narrative Brain (Suhrkamp, 2022), the non-fiction book of the month in Germany for August 2022. He is the director of the Experimental Humanities Lab.
This program is funded by a generous endowment from Mrs. Lillian Rodig Maxwell, in memory of her brother, Dr. Oscar R. Rodig, Jr. RC ‘51, who studied Chemistry and German at Rutgers College, and in memory of her sister Erika Rodig Rosera, DC ‘62, who studied History and German at Douglass College.