1st Edition

The Routledge Handbook of Fiction and Belief

Edited By Alison James, Akihiro Kubo, Françoise Lavocat Copyright 2023
    522 Pages 14 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    The Routledge Handbook of Fiction and Belief offers a fresh reevaluation of the relationship between fiction and belief, surveying key debates and perspectives from a range of disciplines including narrative and cultural studies, science, religion, and politics. This volume draws on global, cutting edge research and theory to investigate the historically variable understandings of fictionality, and allows readers to grasp the role of fictions in our understanding of the world.

    This interdisciplinary approach provides a thorough introduction to the fundamental themes of:

    • Theoretical and Philosophical Perspectives on Fiction
    • Fiction, Fact, and Science
    • Social Effects and Uses of Fiction
    • Fiction and Politics
    • Fiction and Religion

    Questioning how fictions in fact shape, mediate or distort our beliefs about the real world, essays in this volume outline the state of theoretical debates from the perspectives of literary theory, philosophy, sociology, religious studies, history, and the cognitive sciences. It aims to take stock of the real or supposed effects that fiction has on the world, and to offer a wide-reaching reflection on the implications of belief in fictions in the so-called “post-truth” era.


    Alison James, Akihiro Kubo, and Françoise Lavocat

    Part I: Believing in Fiction: Philosophical and Theoretical Perspectives

    1. Belief, Imagination, and the Nature of Fiction
    2. Stacie Friend

    3. The "Willing Suspension of Disbelief": The Long History of a Short Phrase
    4. Nicholas Paige

    5. The Fictionality of Games and the Ludic Nature of Fiction: Make-believe, Immersion, Play
    6. Marie-Laure Ryan

    7. Fictional Emotions and Belief
    8. Eva-Maria Konrad

    9. Fictional Characters and Belief
    10. Thomas Pavel

    11. Fictionality, the Zone of Generic Fiction, and the Allure of Unreliable Narration
    12. James Phelan

    13. Belief is a Mess. That Makes it Good for Fiction. (A Perspective from Cognitive Literary Theory)
    14. Lisa Zunshine

    15. Fiction and Historiography
    16. Annick Louis

    17. Fiction and Scientific Knowledge
    18. Adam Toon

    19. Learning from Fiction
    20. Gregory Currie, Heather Ferguson, Jacopo Frascaroli, Stacie Friend, Kayleigh Green, and Lena Wimmer


      Part II: From Fiction to Belief: Social and Political Effects

    21. Do Fictions Impact People’s Beliefs? A Critical View
    22. Nicolas Baumard and Edgar Dubourg

    23. The Impact of Fiction on Beliefs about Gender
    24. Vera Nünning

    25. Implicit Bias, Fiction, and Belief
    26. Kris Goffin and Agnes Moors

    27. Children’s Ideas about Stories and about Reality
    28. Ayse Payir and Paul L. Harris

    29. From Suspension of Disbelief to Production of Belief: The Case of Alternate Reality Games
    30. Patrick Jagoda

    31. Interactive Environments and Fictional Engagement
    32. Olivier Caïra

    33. Fake News and Fictional News
    34. Jessica Pepp, Rachel Sterken and Eliot Michaelson

    35. Trust, Credulity, and Speech
    36. Philippe Roussin

    37. Literature on Credit: Fiction and the Fiduciary Paradigm
    38. Emmanuel Bouju

    39. Fifth Generation Fictionality? Fiction, Politics, War
    40. Henrik Zetterberg-Nielsen

    41. Uses of Fantasy Fiction in Contemporary Political Mobilization
    42. Anne Besson

    43. Fiction, Belief, and Postcolonial Criticism
    44. Alok Yadav

    45. Can Fictions Predict the Future?
    46. Anne Duprat

    47. Dystopian Fictions and Contemporary Fears
    48. Jean-Paul Engélibert

    49. Fiction, Belief, and Climate Change: Paratexts, Skeptics, and Objects of Care
    50. Erin James


      Part III: Fiction and Religious Belief

    51. Greek Mythology: Discourse, Belief, and Ritual Action
    52. Claude Calame

    53. Fiction and Belief: Approaching Medieval Latin Christendom
    54. Julie Orlemanski

    55. Literary Fictions, Religious "Fables," and Unbelief in the West
    56. Nicolas Correard

    57. Saints, Between Faith, Belief, and Fiction
    58. Barbara Selmeci Castioni

    59. The Role of Fiction in Buddhist Hagiography: The Case of Shinran
    60. Markus Rüsch

    61. Fiction and Belief in Ancient and Early Medieval India
    62. Isabelle Ratié

    63. Fiction, Religion, and Pre-Modern Arab-Islamic Literature (8th–18th Centuries)
    64. Aboubakr Chraïbi

    65. Fiction against Belief and Belief in Fiction in Modern Arabic Literature
    66. Ève de Dampierre-Noiray

    67. On Jewish Fiction and Belief: Duplicity, Parables, Confession
    68. Sarah Hammerschlag

    69. Religious Uses of Fantasy Fiction
    70. Markus Altena Davidsen

    71. Fake Cults, Hyper-Real Religions, Virtual Beliefs at the Crossroads of Fiction, the Sacred, and Technology

    Lionel Obadia


    Alison James is Professor of French at the University of Chicago. Her research interests include the Oulipo group, the contemporary novel, theories and representations of everyday life, documentary literature, and questions of fact and fiction.

    Akihiro Kubo is Professor of French Literature at Kwansei Gakuin University. His research interests focus on twentieth-century French literature and theories of literature.

    Françoise Lavocat is Professor of Comparative Literature at the Université Sorbonne Nouvelle. She received an honorary doctorate in Humane Letters from the University of Chicago, and is a member of the Institut Universitaire de France as well as a member and section chair in the Academia Europaea.