International Summer School "Fictionalizing the World?" in Munich (August 2010)

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PhD programme "Literature" at Munich University

Fiction and Reality. Exploring Positions in a Complex Relationship

2010 Summer School in Munich, Germany

'Fictionalizing the World?' is the theme for this year's summer school, which is the third and last of a series of three summer schools focusing on the relationship between fiction and reality. The aim of this year's summer school is to offer doctoral students and post-doctoral researchers the opportunity to explore and discuss in detail different ways in which literary texts and other works contribute to fictionalizing what we commonly regard as the 'world' or 'reality'.
We want to explore this complex relationship in detail in this third international summer school hosted by the PhD programme "Literature" at Munich University.

"Fictionalizing the World?"
August 1-15, 2010 in Munich, Germany.

In his 1983 article entitled Kunst als Antifiktion (Art as Anti-Fiction), the philosopher Odo Marquard describes a process in which "the fictional subverts the real, reality becomes thoroughly fictionalized, so to speak, and the difference between the real and the fictional dissolves." Marquard links this process to the emergence of modernity, whose new technical possibilities of communication and simulation mean that the world is perceived in a fundamentally new way: "modern reality becomes increasingly permeated by semi-unreality in which fiction and reality can no longer be distinguished."
Marquard's article can be seen as an attempt to trace a development that is best described as a progressive and comprehensive 'fictionalization of the world'. This 'fictionalization of the world' means that fiction is no longer limited to particular domains (most notably art), but rather infiltrates and shapes practically all areas of human life. From this perspective, fiction seems to be virtually omnipresent; it is seen as having the potential to expand, which can be promising or threatening, depending on one's point of view. On the one hand, the dissolving distinction between reality and fiction seems to point toward a new kind of unity between art and life, which was always something modern avant-garde movements sought after. On the other hand, the phenomenon of dissolution is also at the heart of numerous modern dystopias, such as George Orwell's novel 1984 or the movie Matrix by Andy and Larry Wachowski.
Although pessimistic and optimistic outlooks may disagree on certain points, there is an apparent consensus that 'fictionalizing the world' is a process which is accelerating and expanding. In its wake, it is leaving many far-reaching social changes whose impact we cannot yet completely measure.
This leaves us with the question of how this process can be better understood, described and evaluated and what the consequences may be, especially for literature and art.
To focus discussions, we will be concentrating on four subsections:
(1) Nationalism: Fact or Fiction?
(2) Humor: Fictional Escape or Critique of Reality?
(3) Fictions of Violence
(4) Fictionalizing Colonial Encounters

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