I am a Distinguished Fellow in the English Department at Washington & Jefferson College. My research at the intersection of science and art has been covered in outlets like The New York Times, Scientific American, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Nature, and NPR.More About Jonathan
Humans live in landscapes of make-believe. We spin fantasies. We devour novels, films, and plays. Event sporting events and criminal trials unfold as narratives. Yet the world of story has long remained an undiscovered and unmapped country. It's easy to say that humans are "wired" for story, but why?
When a mixed martial arts (MMA) gym moves in across the street from his office, Jonathan Gottschall sees a challenge, and an opportunity. Pushing forty, out of shape, and disenchanted with his job as an adjunct English professor, part of him yearns to cross the street and join up. The other part is terrified. Gottschall eventually works up his nerve, and starts training for a real cage fight. He’s fighting not only as a personal test but also to answer questions that have intrigued him for years: Why do men fight? And why do so many seemingly decent people like to watch?