Interdisciplinary Center for Narratology

Research group Factuality/Fictionality

Research Group Factuality/Fictionality

Fact and Fiction: These terms are often used as opposites. But they are “in fact” more tangled up with one another than would seem at first glance. Because how else could you explain that brokers speak of a stock’s “true inner value” although this very value is indeed just a fictitious factor? Or, that the futuristic iris scanner which we first encountered in the James Bond movie  “Never say never” did come into existence in reality a few years later? And how about Aristotle’s claim that a piece of art, i.e. the fictional representation of an event, is in the long run truer to the fact than its accurate description by a historian?

In recent decades, fictionality has been an important issue in literary studies and linguistic philosophy, whereas factuality has been neglected as an apparently clearly defined counterpart. However, since Hayden White’s book Metafiction we know that in factual representations, it is more than the objective facts which count as important. So, which are the characteristic features of factual in comparison to fictional representation? Or, briefly speaking: What exactly “factualizes”?

That is the central question of the resarch group “Factuality/Fictionality”. A question that should be asked not only within the context of the humanities but also within other disciplines such as the sciences and law. Also, we have to consider that our understanding of fact and fiction has changed throughout history and will keep on changing in the future. For after all, what is sure is that factuality is often enough “stranger than fiction”.

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