Vonnegut on the Shape of Stories

“The fundamental idea is that stories have shapes which can be drawn on graph paper, and that the shape of a given society’s stories is at least as interesting as the shape of its pots or spearheads.” Vonnegut wrote in his master’s thesis as a graduate student in anthropology at the University of Chicago. He was already famous as a novelist for works blending satire, black comedy, and science fiction, when he later talks about his theory in a fun lecture, graphing the shape of three types of stories everyone is very familiar with.

Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (1922-2007) was an American author, satirist, and graphic artist. He published fourteen novels, three short story collections, five plays, and five works of non-fiction. Vonnegut was a self-proclaimed humanist and a lifelong supporter of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Video courtesy of David Comberg