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Fictionality and Literature

Core Concepts Revisited

Edited by Lasse R. Gammelgaard, Stefan Iversen, Louise Brix Jacobsen, James Phelan, Richard Walsh, Henrik Zetterberg-Nielsen, and Simona Zetterberg-Nielsen

338 pp. 6 x 9
8 illustrations
Pub Date: December, 2022

Subjects: Narrative Studies
Literary Theory

Series: Theory and Interpretation of Narrative

order Hardcover $79.95   ISBN: 978-0-8142-1501-2
Order PDF ebook$49.95   ISBN: 978-0-8142-8261-8

“Helpful and informative for readers, writers, and critics … Fictionality and Literature is a complete compendium of knowledge, a collection of essays that only propels rhetorical fictionality theory into the future of both analytical and creative composition. The next time I sit down to write fiction, I’ll keep this volume in mind—I won’t be able to help it.” —Alex Crayon, Journal of the Midwest Modern Language Association

Fictionality and Literature provides a clear window into one of the most interesting and provocative new approaches to narrative––the rhetoric of fictionality. Enhanced by a diversity of theoretical approaches, this collection will have a broad and profound impact on narrative research.” —Brian McHale, author of The Obligation toward the Difficult Whole: Postmodernist Long Poems

Taking its cues from Richard Walsh’s influential 2007 book, The Rhetoric of Fictionality, Fictionality and Literature sets out to examine the implications of a rhetorical understanding of fictionality. A rhetorical approach understands fictionality and nonfictionality not as binary opposites but as different means to the same end: influencing an audience’s understanding of the world. Arguing that fiction is not just a feature of particular works, such as novels, but an adaptable instrument used to achieve an author’s specific rhetorical goals, the contributors theorize how to reconceive of core literary concepts and influences such as author, narrator, plot, character, consciousness, metaphor, metafiction/metalepsis, intertextuality, paratext, ethics, and social justice. Combining analyses of a wide range of texts by Colson Whitehead, Charles Dickens, Kazuo Ishiguro, Toni Morrison, Geoffrey Chaucer, and others with historical events such as the Nat Tate biography hoax and the Anders Breivik murders, contributors discuss not only a rhetorical definition of fictionality but also the wider consequences of such a conception. In addition, some chapters within Fictionality and Literature offer alternatives to a rhetorical paradigm, thus expanding the volume’s representation of the current state of the conversation about fictionality in literature.


H. Porter Abbott, Catherine Gallagher, Lasse R. Gammelgaard, Stefan Iversen, Louise Brix Jacobsen, Rikke Andersen Kraglund, Susan S. Lanser, Jakob Lothe, Maria Mäkelä, Greta Olson, Sylvie Patron, James Phelan, Richard Walsh, Wendy Veronica Xin, Henrik Zetterberg-Nielsen, Simona Zetterberg-Nielsen

Lasse R. Gammelgaard is Associate Professor in the School of Communication and Culture at Aarhus University.

Stefan Iversen is Associate Professor in the School of Communication and Culture at Aarhus University.

Louise Brix Jacobsen is Associate Professor in Danish Media Studies at Aalborg University.

James Phelan is Distinguished University Professor of English at The Ohio State University and author of numerous books, including (with Matthew Clark) Debating Rhetorical Narratology: On the Synthetic, Mimetic, and Thematic Aspects of Narrative and Narrative Medicine: A Rhetorical Rx.

Richard Walsh is Professor in the Department of English and Related Literature, University of York, and author of The Rhetoric of Fictionality: Narrative Theory and the Idea of Fiction.

Henrik Zetterberg-Nielsen is Professor in the School of Communication and Culture at Aarhus University.

Simona Zetterberg-Nielsen is Associate Professor in the School of Communication and Culture at Aarhus University.


List of Illustrations

Introduction by the editors

Chapter 1        Author

Henrik Zetterberg-Nielsen

Chapter 2        Narrator

Sylvie Patron

Chapter 3        Plot

Wendy Veronica Xin

Chapter 4        Character

H. Porter Abbott

Chapter 5        Consciousness

Maria Mäkelä

Chapter 6        Metaphor

Greta Olson

Chapter 7        Paratext

Louise Brix Jacobsen

Chapter 8        Intertextuality

Rikke Andersen Kraglund

Chapter 9        Metafiction and Metalepsis

Richard Walsh

Chapter 10      The Novel

Catherine Gallagher and Simona Zetterberg-Nielsen

Chapter 11      Poetry

Lasse R. Gammelgaard

Chapter 12      Literary Nonfiction

James Phelan

Chapter 13      Ethics

Jakob Lothe

Chapter 14      Social Justice

Susan S. Lanser

List of Contributors


Related Titles:

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The Rhetoric of Fictionality:

Narrative Theory and the Idea of Fiction

Richard Walsh

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Narrative Theory

Core Concepts and Critical Debates

David Herman, James Phelan and Peter J. Rabinowitz, Brian Richardson, and Robyn Warhol

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Experiencing Fiction

Judgments, Progressions, and the Rhetorical Theory of Narrative

James Phelan