I conducted an experiment to explore the capabilities of narratives (short stories) to convey and preserve scientific information. The study consisted on a critical analysis of two short stories (Nitrogen by Primo Levi and The Crabs take Over the Island by Anatoly Dnieprov) to examine narrative structures and literary devices included in these texts. Following Propp’s narrative analysis, I looked at characters, spheres of action and narrative functions. The functions and spheres of action proposed by Propp provided me the basis to contrast the stimulus narratives (short stories) with the reproductions of these narratives performed by the participants in the experiment.

The results suggest that there is a relationship between how central the scientific information is to the development of the story and how memorable it becomes. In other words, the closer the scientific information moves to the important moments in the narration (e.g., revelations, peripetia, anagnorisis, outcome, central functions, spheres of action and literary tropes), the more likely it is to succeed in communicating and making such scientific knowledge memorable.

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Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

What makes a story an interesting way to communicate science

Aquiles Negrete   Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (ITESM), México

I conducted an experiment to explore the capabilities of narratives (short stories) to convey and preserve scientific information. The study consisted on a critical analysis of two short stories (Nitrogen by Primo Levi and The Crabs take Over the Island by Anatoly Dnieprov) to examine narrative structures and literary devices included in these texts. Following Propp’s narrative analysis, I looked at characters, spheres of action and narrative functions. The functions and spheres of action proposed by Propp provided me the basis to contrast the stimulus narratives (short stories) with the reproductions of these narratives performed by the participants in the experiment.

The results suggest that there is a relationship between how central the scientific information is to the development of the story and how memorable it becomes. In other words, the closer the scientific information moves to the important moments in the narration (e.g., revelations, peripetia, anagnorisis, outcome, central functions, spheres of action and literary tropes), the more likely it is to succeed in communicating and making such scientific knowledge memorable.

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