What’s The Story: Guest Post by Professor Danielle Tully

Today, we’re proud to present this guest post by Professor Danielle Tully (@ldtully), who teaches in Suffolk University’s Legal Practice Program.

Nobody answered our knock on the front door, so we walked around to the side door.[1] If anyone recognizes me, they won’t know me for the white woman I was when I boarded the train.[2] But no doubt Mrs. Coulter would help her look for him, and she was bound to have powerful friends who could get him back from wherever he’d disappeared to.[3]

After reading those sentences, your brain likely conjured a variety of images.[4] In fact, your brain started piecing this story together from the first word—even though the sentences weren’t meant to tell a story at all. That’s because they come from three very different novels.

Why do we do this? According to neuroscientists our brains are wired for stories.  Stories evoke strong responses because they tap into memories. Professor Ruth Anne Robbins has likened a narrative’s impact to a pensieve—the magic bowl Harry Potter encounters that enables him to step inside other people’s memories.[5] In the human brain, memories exist in a complicated nested system that is continuously remaking and rearranging itself. These memories evoke strong emotional responses that impact how we understand new information and the decisions we make about it. When writers, both lawyers and novelists, tell stories, they tap into and interact with this system in their audience.[6]  Continue reading “What’s The Story: Guest Post by Professor Danielle Tully”