Stories matter. They help us digest information, make sense of our world, learn valuable lessons, understand ourselves, store information, find meaning, and remember. Our stories can define us, tell us who we are, and who we might yet become. Researchers tell us that stories are one of the most elemental ways we process information. We understand the world through stories.
Stories are accessible to our brains; we can more easily process narratives. They make sense to us. This book takes political storytelling seriously. Research on the brain indicates that humans learn from and profit from narratives. They help us make sense of a complex world, teach us important lessons, socialize us into society, are agents of education, information, and entertainment. How best to receive and process new information?
As stories are important to us, so too are political narrative as a key to our identities. So many of our political views and subsequent behavior have roots in the myths and stories of America. This book examines stories of our lives as presented in paintings, music, and films. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.
Michael A. Genovese holds the Loyola Chair of Leadership and serves as President of the Global Policy Institute at Loyola Marymount University.
Chapter One: Tell Me A Story: On the Importance of Storytelling
Chapter Two: On Seeing Politics: Paintings Telling a Story
Chapter Three: On Hearing Politics: Music Talks Politics
Chapter Four: On Movies and Politics: Political Storytelling Through Films
“CNN commentator and prize-wining author Michael Genovese gives us a culturally rich grand tour of the major role storytellers have played in the Western tradition. It makes clear that we need stories just as much as we love stories. This gem of a book explains that poets, painters, songwriters and filmmakers wonderfully reveal where we have come from, who we are, point out are shortcomings and celebrate our possibilities..”
Genovese appreciates something important: that emotion is more powerful than fact. That is why story-telling casts such a spell over politics and life. In his characteristically deft and seamless way, Genovese surveys the visual arts, music, and film to illuminate their story-telling power over our political and social selves. A concise, punchy slogan isn’t everything, but it’s a lot. So is this concise book.
“Much of the public find’s politics baffling and boring, far removed from their everyday lives. However, politics penetrates their brains when works of art, music, and films portray politics by telling a story that is easily understood. The genius of the present book by Michael Genovese is to explain how, when, and why a vision of politics can be compelling and inspiring for most people by viewing works of art, listening to dramatic chords and melodies, and viewing cinematic portrayals. Examples carefully chosen in the book illustrate why the creators of art, music, and film are the most profound but unacknowledged legislators of the world. But now, thanks to Michael Genovese, the secret is out for all to admire and behold.”
“In this book, Michael Genovese reveals how and why art, music, and movies are inextricably woven into political culture. Drawing upon a broad range of scholarship, Genovese demonstrates the importance of storytelling in politics, and how it makes meaning for the public. The writing never gets bogged down in technicalities or jargon, and Genovese makes his points easy to understand to any reader. The book spans the gamut of art, music, and movies, providing illuminating examples of how each has influenced politics over millennia. This book is truly a superb distillation of how culture affects politics, and how those who know how to use it often win.”