“Writing and Consciousness: Why Fiction Works” (90 minutes)
Storytelling is such a part of the mind’s functioning that we can ultimately say that consciousness is storytelling.
Storytellers have been studying the art and craft of storytelling since the beginning of human history, intent on perfecting the ultimate, cumulative effect a narrative will have on its audience.
In this address, ZZtalks about how researchers in fields as various as evolutionary biology, psychology, theory of mind, and narratology are only now beginning to dissect the ways in which stories comprise and reflect upon human consciousness.
ZZ Packer’s stories have appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s, Story, Ploughshares, Zoetrope All-Story and Best American Short Stories 2000, Best American Short Stories 2003 and NPR’s Selected Shorts Series.
Her non-fiction has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Essence, O Magazine and The New York Times Book Review. She is the recipient of a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer’s Award, a Whiting Award, and a Guggenheim Fellowship.
Her book Drinking Coffee Elsewhere won the Commonwealth First Fiction Award, and an ALEX award. It became a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner award and was selected for the Today Show Book Club by John Updike.
She is currently at work on a novel about the Buffalo Soldiers, entitled The Thousands, an excerpt of which appeared in The New Yorker’s 20 Under 40 Fiction Issue under the title Dayward.
As a professor of Creative Writing, Ms. Packer has taught the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Johns Hopkins, Tulane, Vassar, San Jose State, The Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas at Austin, Texas State University at San Marcos, the University of Houston, and Stanford. She was born in Chicago and raised in Atlanta and Louisville. She currently lives in Austin, Texas