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Research Project

Possible and Impossible Fictions

2021 – 2022
In René Magritte's "Golconda" (1953), men in suits rain down over the city.

René Magritte, Golconda, 1953. The Menil Collection, Houston. © 2021 C. Herscovici / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Key Question

Project Summary

How does fiction model our understanding of what is possible, and how does our sense of what is possible constrain what is perceived to be possible or impossible in fictional worlds?

Research Team

Alison James

Alison James

Professor of French Literature, and the College 

University of Chicago

Alison James works on twentieth- and twenty-first-century French literature, with a particular focus on post–World War II experimental writing, representations of everyday life, chance and contingency in literature, and nonfiction narrative. What unites these interests is her enduring concern...

Françoise Lavocat

Francoise Lavocat

Françoise Lavocat

Professor and Chair, Comparative Literature

Université Sorbonne Nouvelle - Paris 3

Françoise Lavocat is Professor of French and Comparative Literature at the Université Sorbonne Nouvelle–Paris 3, a senior member of the Institut universitaire de France, a member of the European Academy, and an honorary president of the French Society of General and Comparative Literature. In...

Project Narrative

Reading List

Alber, Jan.

Unnatural Narrative: Impossible Worlds in Fiction and Drama. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2016. Read

Doležel, Lubomír.

Heterocosmica: Fiction and Possible Worlds. Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998. Read

Fülöp, Erika, ed.

Fictionality, Factuality, and Reflexivity Across Discourses and Media. Berlin and Boston: De Gruyter, 2021. Read

Lavocat, Françoise.

Fait et Fiction. Pour une frontière. Paris: Seuil, 2016. Read

Priest, Graham.

“Sylvan’s Box: A Short Story and Ten Morals.” Notre Dame Journal of Formal Logic 38, no. 4 (1997): 573–82. Read

Rescher, Nicholas.

Paradoxes: Their Roots, Range and Resolution. Chicago and La Salle, Ill.: Open Court, 2001. Read

Richardson, Brian.

Unnatural Narrative, Theory, History and Practice. Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 2015. Read

Ryan, Marie-Laure.

Possible Worlds, Artificial Intelligence and Narrative Theory. Bloomington: University of Indiana Press, 1991. Read


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