Fictionality  book cover
1st Edition


  • Available for pre-order on March 30, 2023. Item will ship after April 20, 2023
ISBN 9780367752293
April 20, 2023 Forthcoming by Routledge
232 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Does fiction enhance reality or threaten our sense of what is real? What, if anything, is special about experiencing fictional works and worlds? Today we speak casually of parallel universes and virtual reality; how much do we really know about what these phenomena involve?

In Fictionality, Karen Petroski explains how philosophers and literary theorists have approached these questions in the Western literary tradition from Greek antiquity to the present day. The book introduces readers to both long-running and contemporary debates about:

• The value and dangers of engagement with fiction;
• The origins of fictional artworks, especially literary works, in Western literature;
• The role played by imagination in engaging with fiction;
• The peculiarities of fictional “worlds”;
• The structure of linguistic reference within fictional artworks;
• The functions of fictionality in non-linguistic artworks such as film and television;
• The role played by fictionality outside artworks, for example in philosophy, law, and politics.

Fictionality offers an accessible and comprehensive introduction to this field of increasing critical and theoretical interest. Bringing together theoretical insights from a variety of perspectives, it will be an essential resource for anyone studying fictionality.

Table of Contents


1. Perspectives on Fictionality

2. Origin Points

3. Seeing As

4. Other Worlds

5. Reference

6. Beyond Text

7. Beyond Art




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Karen Petroski is Professor at Saint Louis University School of Law. She earned a Ph.D. in Literature before attending law school, practicing law, and then teaching. She has published number of works on fictionality, including Fiction and the Languages of Law (Routledge, 2018).