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Abstracts

Louise Brix Jacobsen: "Paratext"

James Phelan’s revision of the rhetorical approach’s communication model (forthcoming 2017), which conceives the paratext as one of many resources an author may draw on, invites narrative theorists to acknowledge the role of the paratext in the rhetorical communication that unfolds in narrative across media. In this paper, I take up this invitation and discuss how fictionality as a rhetorical strategy helps us understand the functioning of specific paratext-text relations. The rhetorical definition of fictionality as “intentionally signalled invention in communication” frames my understanding of fictionality in the paratext but requires broadening to account for the delayed or multi-stage signalling that we find both in hoaxes and in paratexts that are set up (“signalled”) in one way but later revealed (“re-signalled”) in a different light.

Gerald Prince: "Reader"

One factor that can affect the kind and range of questions asked and answers given by a reader in rea-ding a text is the fictional or nonfictional status of that text. I rehearse some of the main points in the account of fictionality proffered by Nielsen, Phelan, and Walsh (2015) and I discuss some of the consequences that it entails. In particular, I show how the consideration, interpretation, and evaluation of narratives in terms of narratological categories can vary depending on whether these narratives are taken to be fictional or nonfictional and I argue that the variation can shed light not only on the reader or on the narratives but also on the narratological categories themselves and their applicability.

Henrik Skov Nielsen: "Author" 

In the paper I ask: what does a rhetorical approach to fictionality mean for the role we should attribute to the author of literary fiction and for how we should examine intentions and purposes in literature. Linguistics, literary theory, narrative theory, and fiction theory have tended to tacitly assume that all language use is either non-inventive or follows the same rules as non-inventive language use. In the paper I examine the author as a critical concept from the perspective of seeing fiction as a speci-fic form of inventive discourse.

Sylvie Patron: "Narrator"

The reconsideration of the concept of narrator in the framework of the rhetorical theory of fictionality cannot but meet the theory put forward by Richard Walsh (1997, 2007). In the first part of this paper, I will present, in the form of a list of five items, a version of Walsh’s theory, which will be followed with some critical remarks. In the second part, I will develop one of these remarks, regarding Walsh’s lack of historical perspective, and I will return to the double origin of the concept of narrator as it is used in pan-narrator theory. In the third part, I will propose a modified version of Walsh’s theory, in accord-ance with the rhetorical theory of fictionality. This version is based on the opposition between the con-cept of narrator as a creation of the author and the concept of narrator as a creation of the theory.

Porter Abbott: "Character"

Whether or not the rise of Catherine Gallagher’s argument regarding the “rise of fictionality” gives rise to a historical/rhetorical divide in fictionality studies, the subject of character stands at or near the cen-ter of both approaches. Moreover, for both the historian Gallagher and the rhetorician Richard Walsh, the fictionality of textual worlds allowed readers an investment of feeling in characters’ lives without incurring certain real-world consequences. But regarding both readers and authors, there are key differ-ences between these approaches to character. I will explore how they complement, supplement, and depart from each other. To help with this, I will also include the subjects of character in theater and character as species. 

Maria Mäkelä: "Consciousness" 

For what purposes do we construct minds for others? When is mind attribution a rhetorical strategy? Does verbalization of another person’s mind entail fictionalization? The new turn in fictionality studies has the potential to reshape the worn-out narratological debates on literary consciousness representation in fiction and its formal or cognitive (in)distinctiveness from mind attribution outside generic fiction. In my talk, I will illustrate these questions with a comparative analysis of three novels fictionalizing the Sofitel harassment scandal that made Dominique Strauss-Kahn resign as head of the IMF. These fic-tions are all verbal and narrative “mind attributions,” sketching their own versions of “what is it like to be DSK,” yet with varying degrees of referentiality and with differing political undercurrents.

Laura Karttunen: "Speech Representation"

An instance of speech representation displays in miniature the properties of generic fictions such as novels. This is the starting point for my paper in which I seek to enrich the rhetorical theory of fiction-ality by drawing on recent linguistic research on hypothetical direct speech. One of the analogies be-tween hypothetical speech and generic fiction that I wish to explore concerns their functions. Quota-tions may open up new realities that serve no purpose beyond themselves, but they can also be used to express value judgments. I will also address the central role that a stretch of hypothetical speech may play in the structure of a story or a novel. 

Karin Kukkonen: "Plot"

Even though plot as such can be found in both literature and everyday narrative, the notion of plot pos-es an important challenge for the argument that fictionality extends into everyday discourse. As debates on plot in the neoclassical age show, what is fictitious is not only imagined (or invented) but also shaped artificially into a whole that coheres in its own kind of “improbable probability”. Drawing on literary theory from the neoclassical age, as well as Wolfgang Iser's distinction between the "fictive" and the "imaginary", we will address the importance of plot for fictionality through the example of Christoph Martin Wieland's novel Don Sylvio von Rosalva (1764).

Richard Walsh: "Metafiction and Metalepsis"

Metafiction is generally regarded as a representationally disruptive phenomenon, but the move to a metadiscourse involved is simply a shift of level, comparable to other commonplace recursive features of language, narrative and fiction. I suggest that the rhetorical functions of metafiction, and of metalep-sis, are culturally and historically variable, and not to be constrained by the implicit foil of a realist par-adigm. The aim of this exploration is to integrate metafictionality into a broader conception of reflex-iveness as the fundamental principle of the development and literary elaboration of narrative as a mode of representation and fictionality as a rhetorical resource.

Lasse Gammelgaard: "Poetry"

In opposition to the standard dictum in narrative theory that contends that in novels the narrator is dis-tinct from the author, in this chapter I suggest that the speaker in poetry is fictive-labile. This entails conceiving of the poet-speaker relationship in terms of a continuum based on the affinity or distance between the two. Theoretically, I employ and fuse Ralph Rader’s four different types of poems with a first person speaker (expressive lyric, dramatic lyric, mask lyric, dramatic monologue) with Susan Lanser’s theory of attachment and detachment between authors and narrators based on five attachment criteria (singularity, anonymity, identity, reliability, and atemporality/nonnarrativity).

Catherine Gallagher and Simona Zetterberg Gjerlevsen: "Novel"

This paper wishes to synthesize the fields of fictionality studies within the novel and a theory of fic-tionality that considers fictionality an autonomous concept. It seeks answers to the question: what did the novel do to fictionality? This question will be investigated in relation to character, realism and counter factuality in novels. The paper offers a historical trajectory on fictionality but focuses mainly on the birth of the novel in the eighteenth century with readings of canonized authors as Henry James, Samuel Richardson and Charlotte Lennox.

Greta Olson: "Tropes"

Work on fictionality has overwhelmingly concerned narrative texts and ignored how the conceptualiza-tion of inventedness may figure into a revision of conceptualizations of metaphor and other tropes. Un-like narrative, metaphor is non-linear and does not involve setting or representations of consciousness but the instantaneous form of recognition of one thing in terms of another. Does inventedness resemble the excessive form of creativity that Hans Blumenberg attributed to metaphors as “‘translations’ that resist being converted back into authenticity and logicality” (Paradigms for a Metaphorology, 1960, 3)? As case studies, I consider metaphors of refugeeism. 

James Phelan: "Literary Non-fiction"

This paper will explore the deployment of local fictionality within literary nonfictions.  The argument will have three main parts:

  1. A theoretical consideration of why writers of literary nonfiction would turn to fictionality within their narratives about actual people and actual events. What rhetorical purposes does it serve?
  2. A discussion about the relation between figurality and fictionality within literary nonfiction. Are all metaphors instances of fictionality? What's at stake in saying either yes or no?
  3. A close reading of Tobias Wolff's quite different uses of fictionality in two chapters from his memoir In Pharaoh's Army, "Close Calls" and "Old China"

Jakob Lothe: "Ethics" 

Examining ethics from a perspective of fictionality, this paper focuses on the ethics of the narrator, discussing how the narrator’s ethics are shaped by the narrator’s relation to the ethics of implied and historical author on the one hand, and to those of the narratee, implied reader and historical reader on the other. Proceeding from this theoretical consideration, the chapter discusses the ethics of three narra-tives that display different aspects and degrees of fictionality: Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness (1899), W.G. Sebald’s Austerlitz (2001), and Åsne Seierstad’s One of Us: The Story of Anders Breivik and the Massacre in Norway (2015).

Susan Lanser: "Ideology and Social Justice" 

Taking Toni Morrison’s Beloved as a touchstone, my presentation will interrogate the powers and limits of fictional discourse as a conduit for social change. I will ask what purposes fiction might serve in contexts when social intervention is a concrete goal and consider the textual and social conditions that might enable fiction to intervene in matters of fact. I will also consider circumstances of text, topic, and readerly response that might lead fiction to fall short of effective intervention. In the process, I will be asking as well what theories of fictionality–rhetorical, referential, or otherwise–might best capture the challenge of turning imaginary presences into real-world futures.