The project aims to provide a systematic investigation of the normative relations between fiction, imagination and appreciation.

Lay summary

Content and objectives

The relations between fiction, imagination and appreciation are normative in nature: Fictional texts direct our imaginings and we, at least in part, aesthetically appreciate them because of what and how they prompt us to imagine. Although some aspects of the relations in question have already been discussed in the literature, there has so far been no comprehensive account of the normative role of imagining and its normative connections to fiction and appreciation. The research project intends to give such an account. It is divided into three subprojects that approach the normative relations between fiction, imagination and appreciation from three complementary angles: Whereas the first subproject studies the factual issue of which specific norms are de facto in play in interpretative practices, the second asks the normative question of which specific norms should be followed, while the third addresses the foundational issue of where these norms derive their authority from.

Scientific and societal context

The research project promises to have an impact on both theoretical and practical aspects of literary studies, to bridge the gap between literary studies as an academic discipline and reading novels as conducted by the ‘layman’ and to further our understanding of what makes literary fictions valuable to us. The main contribution to the philosophical literature on fiction and imagination is that it illuminates the normativity of an important relation that is often taken for granted but not well understood. By discussing where the normative authority of fictional texts over our imaginings could derive from, the project is supposed to open a new field of discussion that supplements the existing debates on the relation between fiction and imagination.