26 May 2012

final seminar of the year

Please join us for the final seminar of the year:

Possible and Fictional Worlds
 Professor Jonathan Hart
Durham University

Wednesday, 30th May 2012
5:00 – 6:30 pm
Department of English Studies, Hallgarth House Seminar Room

Whereas the possible world of literature, or what Aristotle called poetry, is a fictional world and is a representation of, or alternative to, the actual world, history is about the actual world, no matter how many possibilities it considers and how literary its technique. Even if in theory it is difficult to distinguish between the fictional and historical, the possible and the actual, context does matter, and an event that has actual existence is taken to be different from one that is possible or part of an alternative world. The realized and the putative are experienced differently in practice but are difficult to distinguish in theory.  To understand fictionality, an interdisciplinary approach is necessary. In this context, literary theorists have been interested in fiction, and philosophers have been concerned with the ways fictional texts challenged notions of logic and semantics. This moment of the meeting (sometimes uneasy meeting) of the possible and fictional worlds debate connects with my own interest in the texture and contexture of literary texts as well as the relation between word and world, poetry and history.  Fiction may be a possible impossibility. There is one actual world made of many. Metafictional experiments expand our view of worlds. As a method, which demonstrates variety among its proponents, fictional world theory has expanded our heterogeneous methodology. We now have more tools and choices in coming to terms with actual and possible worlds, with the nature of fiction.

Before joining Department of English Studies, Durham this academic year, Professor Hart taught at University of Alberta, Canada. His teaching and research areas are Shakespeare and Renaissance/early modern studies; comparative literature and comparative history; theory and historiography; colonial and postcolonial studies; Canadian culture; early comparative American studies (especially the ‘Atlantic world').

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