Transportation Into Narrative Worlds: Implications for the Self
Most people have had the sensation of being “lost in a book” (Nell, 1988), swept up into the world of a story so completely that they forget the world around them. A reader nearing the end of the latest John Grisham thriller may be oblivious to the hustle and bustle of the crowded airport terminal around him; a child swept away by Harry Potter’s adventures at Hogwarts may be constantly thinking about the magical world described there. Narratives may provide more than a temporary diversion from reality, however. Educators have long recognized that powerful stories can change the way we think about the world and even about ourselves. For instance, at Harvard Medical School, physician training includes a course in which students read selected fictional works (stories, novels). The goal of the course is not to deliver medical knowledge, but rather to produce graduate physicians whose treatment of patients will be caring and humane (Coles, 1987).