Why Study Literature?

By Jan Alber; Stefan Iversen et al. | Go to book overview

THE FORCE OF FICTIONS

Richard Walsh

I want to make a case based upon one kind of literary study, and confined to one kind (or mode) of literature, without prejudice in either respect to other possible affirmations of the value of what literary scholars do. The kind of study I mean emphasizes the continuity between literary artefacts and the broader domains of cultural discourse, scientific understanding and human cognitive faculties; it is the study of narrative theory, and my claim is that its central preoccupation with literary narrative is in no way at odds with the much larger scope of narrative in general as a distinct object of study. More specifically, my object is fiction, though I mean fictional narrative in a sense that accommodates not only the novel, but the drama (and indeed film), and a great deal of poetry too. Literary fiction, for my purposes here, is defined both etymologically (written fiction) and honorifically (fiction it is possible to credit as a significant contribution to culture, rather than just a symptomatic cultural product); at the same time, however, I situate this narrowly-defined object of study within a series of progressively more inclusive context – that is, fictions in general, narrative discourse in general, and narrative as a cognitive faculty. The recursive relationship between these contexts secures a significant continuity between literature and the broad reaches of scientific understanding, while the distinctive contribution of literary study is provided for by the re-inflection of the concept of narrative with each narrowing and refinement of the frame of reference. Finally, in speaking of the “force” of fictions I am proposing to make some play with the relation between the notions of “force” and “value”, extrapolating somewhat from the framework of speech act theory in order to emphasize a performative quality of literary narrative, which arises out of the recursive logic I am proposing, and which can be extrapolated one step further, to the activity of study itself.

My thesis, then, is that the importance of literary fictions as objects of study can be understood to follow from the status of such fictions as the most highly elaborated instances of a mode of cognition that lies at the heart of what it is to be human (the human, I mean, as a social and trans-

-235-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Why Study Literature?
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 256

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.