Fictionality Across the Arts and Media, Free University Berlin, 13-15 October

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Friedrich Schlegel School of Literary Studies Free University Berlin
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The Annual Conference of the Friedrich Schlegel Graduate School of Literary Studies (Freie Universität Berlin) takes place on October 13--15, 2011. The programme committee invites scholars to submit proposals for papers on the topic of fictionality across the arts and media.

In the past two decades, researchers from various disciplines have taken successful steps to classify the diverse phenomena which come under the heading of 'fictionality'. It has long been considered problematic to speak about fictionality per se. Instead, theorists have tended to distinguish between 'fictionality' and 'fictivity', with the latter denoting the characteristic of 'inventedness' or the 'closed worlds' created by works of art. Further approaches differentiate between fictio and fictum (Werner Wolf) or underline the opposition between possible and fictional worlds, while others focus on the relationship between 'literaricity' and 'fictionality'.

Some theoretical approaches, such as Kendall L. Walton's 'make-believe theory', define the concept of fiction independently from categories of genre, art form or medium. However, the majority of studies focus primarily on narrative texts. While film is sometimes taken into consideration, reference is seldom made to theatre, and discussion of the fictionality of lyric poetry, which was instigated by Käte Hamburger in the 1950s, has only recently been reignited. Despite theorists' overriding bias towards prose texts, the relationship between fictionality and narrative is far from unproblematic, as is demonstrated by the controversy surrounding Hayden White's concept of history as narrative. Similarly disputed are the implications of the author/narrator distinction developed by Wolfgang Kayser and elaborated by Gérard Genette and Dorrit Cohn. Such debates raise questions about the manifestation of fictionality in different art forms and genres: what are the consequences of these narrative-oriented approaches for non-text-based artistic practices such as photography and painting? To what extent can these representational arts be described as fictional? Above all, how do these and other cultural manifestations influence the concept and theory of fictionality?

While narratology has long been open to engagement with other media, there has been no systematic attempt to adopt a comparative approach in studies of fictionality. The annual conference of the Friedrich Schlegel Graduate School aims to fill this gap by examining the phenomenon of fictionality across different genres, art-forms and media. Possible topics of investigation include, but are not limited to, the effet de réel, the aesthetic construction of illusion, and the psychological debate surrounding 'willing suspension' versus 'construction of disbelief' from a comparative perspective. Contributions are preferred which address key theoretical questions and/or analyse individual case-studies, particularly those which are unusual, critical, complex or hybrid, in their engagement with fictionality.

Please send proposals of approximately 250-300 words to by no later than July 15, 2011. Please include a brief biographical statement. Any queries regarding the conference can be directed to the same address. Contributions may be in English or German. Travel costs and accommodation expenses are covered by the organising institution.


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Remigius Bunia / Anne Enderwitz / Susanne Kaiser / Tatiana Korneeva / Andree Michaelis / Irina Rajewsky / Anne-Marie Wachs