About

The ability to imagine – and, via fictionalisation, to evoke others’ imagination of – the non-actual is one of the most fundamental human skills. In the centre of Fictionality Studies we investigate fictionality as a quality, not as a genre. Political speeches, conversations, advertisements, Facebook updates, court proceedings, and news shows employ fictionality.

Rhetorically, a sender can signal fictionality by a range of different techniques. A receiver, in turn, can assume from textual signals that something is fictionalized. Treated as a quality rather than as a genre, fictionalization invites the receiver to conceive of something as invented instead of as reported and referential.

Examining why and how persons and media use fictionality as a means to achieve specific ends is crucial to understand our contemporary, medialized society. Since fictionality is a communicational strategy that crosses traditional genres, media and research areas, an interdisciplinary approach to fictionality as quality is more useful than uni-disciplinary approaches to fiction as generic category.

Therefore we examine fictionality across disciplines such as literary studies, philosophy, political science and media studies.

At the centre we analyze fictionality in empirical material that is very broad historically, culturally, generically and in terms of media. The following core subprojects sheds light on important aspects of this diversity:

  • The Birth and Death of Generic Fiction: Describes and analyzes the emergence (and possibly the disappearance) of fiction as a conventionalized, recognizable generic category.
  • The Ideology and Intellectual History of Fictionality: Demonstrates that the conception of fiction as something generic and contained between book covers or inside a DVD is itself historical conception; advances a more nuanced diachronical description of fictionality. This description can help us describe and analyze:
    1. The culturally and diachronically different ways fictionality is signalled (grammatically, paratextually, gestically etc.)
    2. The culturally and diachronically different ways fictionality is conceived of (as a strategy to understand something, misunderstand something, make something relevant, or (de)legitimize something).
    3. The ways in which this takes place in a negotiation between sender and receiver in cultural contexts.

  • Fictionality in Contemporary Art and Media: Contributes to an understanding of contemporary culture exactly as it transgresses traditional generic and medial boundaries.
  • The Fictionality of Politics and the Politics of Fictionality: Describes and analyzes not only the rhetoric of fictionality but also the ideologies of fictionality. When and how has fictionality been used to achieve what?