The Imaginary and the Actual: Possible Worlds and Fictional Worlds
This course will consider a number of narratives from different periods with a focus on the relations between the fictional and the actual, what exists and what may exist, with the help of theories of possible worlds and of fictionality. To analyze literature in terms of fictional worlds implies a different approach than the conventional one characterized by close reading and interpretation. It leads to different questions: instead of asking, what does this novel mean? we will ask, what kind of world is built by this text? That sort of questioning will force us to consider what we mean by a “world” in the first place. We will read a number of literary works whose distinctive fictional worlds claim a reality at least in our ability to imagine what is not the case.
Central concepts: Possible worlds; fictionality; referentiality; spatiality; utopia/dystopia, novum