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ENGLISH 303D: Thinking in Fiction (COMPLIT 303D)

Is there a boundary between fact and fiction? Is fiction a stable category at all? Should we be thinking instead about description, factual reference, the place of history, and the methods of science? This course will examine the ways in which fictions figure in the workings of the human mind and human institutions, as well as in literature. Readings will include work by philosophers and critics stretching from Locke, Hume, and Adam Smith, to twentieth-century figures such as Vaihinger (the philosophy of "as if"), to "possible worlds" theory. Bruno Latour, Marie-Laure Ryan, and Ann Banfield will be joined by Catherine Gallagher and narratologists. In reaching back to the eighteenth century, we also can have in mind important essays or prefaces by such writers as Horace Walpole, Anna Laetitia Barbauld, and Anne Radcliffe. Novels, of course, raise large questions about fictionality. Works for study include: The Female Quixote, The Castle of Otranto, Tristram Shandy, and Sense and Sensibility.
Last offered: Winter 2019
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