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After Fiction

Call for Papers

After Fiction

European Doctoral Seminar in Culture, Criticism and Creativity

Copenhagen, June 3-5, 2010


“That which, or something that, is imaginatively invented; feigned existence, event, or state of things; invention as opposed to fact.” This is the OED definition of fiction.

In modern art studies, this understanding of the divide between the fictional and what is real is essential to a number of fundamental concepts such as representation, imagination, invention, plot, fantasy, and many more. Fiction, indeed, is a fundamental tenet in the basic understanding of what art is – whether as something superior to mere facts, or as something that is dispensed of conforming to the reign of the factual.

This understanding, however, seems to be increasingly challenged in today’s culture. In the realm of art, we are witnessing a rapid growth of works and events that overtly and provocatively use and display non-fictional forms, claims and materials. Documentaries, testimonies and re-mediations of existing visual, aural and textual matter play a predominant role in contemporary art, and the recording, arrangement and re-framing of allegedly “real” materials now often seem more important in art production than imaginative invention. Inversely, the social realms of information, politics and economy are getting still more dependent on forms and ideas that bear more resemblance to “spectacle” (in Guy Debord’s sense of the word) than to actually assignable facts on the ground. Information is becoming instrumental in strategic warfare agendas, political claims address affects of imaginary scenarios, assessment of bonds and stocks becomes relative to a finely tuned set of values, faith professions and expectations, and so on.

In this situation, as the neatly delineated “realms” of the invented and the factual become increasingly entangled and blurred, our perception of fiction also changes. When fiction loses its distinction, either everything becomes fiction, or the idea of fiction itself eventually becomes irrelevant. 

With this seminar, we will address the changing perception of fiction and the fictive from three different angles. We will assess and discuss a number of traditional understandings of fiction and their underpinnings and premises, on theoretical, methodological and analytical levels. Secondly, we will examine a number of recent cultural objects and practices, where the divide between the fictive and the real is contested, negotiated or recast. And finally, we will look at some examples of how the conceptual and institutional outline of fiction have operated in an array of historical discourses and art practices. Participants are encouraged to submit paper proposals in any field of research with relevance to the understanding of fiction and its contemporary transformations.


Registration by April 19, 2010 to Marie Kirkegaard, cds@hum.ku.dk


Please include:

Short project description

300 words abstract of the paper to be presented

Contact information, including institutional affiliation, address, telephone and e-mail