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PHIL6059 Fiction and Fictionalism

Module Overview

We are all familiar with fictions from Romeo and Juliet to Jaws, from The Hobbit to Harry Potter. Despite this familiarity, the nature of fiction and of our engagement with it appears puzzling. On the one hand, fictional characters do not exist. On the other hand, we can think and talk about them. Indeed, it seems we can make true claims about them, e.g. that Romeo is the son of Montague. But how can that be true, if it is also true that there is no such person as Romeo? It is as puzzling that we appear to feel for fictional characters. We might weep for Juliet when she finds Romeo dead, even though we know that no one has really died. The aim of this module is to explore what fiction is, what our relationship with fiction involves, and whether we engage with fictions outside of the realm of art and literature, for example, when talking about morality or possibility.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

To explore what fiction is, what our relationship with fiction involves, and whether we engage with fictions outside of the realm of art and literature, for example, when talking about morality or possibility.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • prominent views of fictional discourse and its meaning.
  • certain theories concerning the metaphysics of fictions and fictional objects.
  • influential ‘fictionalist’ views, according to which, e.g., moral, religious, or modal discourse involve fictions of some sort.
  • the arguments for and against these views and theories.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • explain clearly and in detail accounts of fiction and of our engagement with it.
  • outline and evaluative critically the arguments for and against those accounts.
  • articulate and defend your own views relating to fiction and the philosophical issues it raises.
  • explore the bearing of the issues this module concerns on issues in other areas of study.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • articulate your views and those of others clearly and carefully in writing.
  • analyse theories and identify their implications.
  • participate in debate in an even-handed fashion.
  • work effectively to deadlines.
  • interpret and extract information from a variety of sources.

Syllabus

The syllabus may vary from year to year. Topics typically include: - Fictional characters - Fictional discourse - Truth in fiction - Serial fictions - The metaphysics of fiction - Varieties of fictionalism

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include - Lectures - In-class discussion - One-on-one consultation with module co-ordinator Learning activities include - Attending classes - Contribution to class discussion - Doing independent research for and writing assessed work

TypeHours
Lecture33
Preparation for scheduled sessions30
Completion of assessment task40
Follow-up work20
Tutorial2
Wider reading or practice25
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Mark Sainsbury (2009).  Fiction and Fictionalism. 

Assessment

Assessment Strategy

For MA students taking this module, expectations will be significantly higher than those for year 3 undergraduate students attending the same lectures, and the assessment criteria will accordingly by stricter. In particular students will be required to demonstrate extremely high levels of detailed and accurate exposition, critical engagement, organisation and presentation, with scholarship that draws on appropriate primary literature.

Formative

Business case or Essay plan

Summative

MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (4000 words) 100%

Referral

MethodPercentage contribution
Resubmit assessments 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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