Lauren Hoogen Stoevenbeld | Living a Dream: History and Fiction in Danilo Kiš’ “A Tomb for Boris Davidovich” and “The Encyclopedia of the Dead”

31.2 Fact and Fiction

Abstract

In this article I compare two stories by Yugoslavian author Danilo Kiš, “A Tomb for Boris Davidovich” and “The Encyclopedia of the Dead,” which address the problems and possibilities of writing a truthful history. Although the stories seem to contradict each other, I will argue that in fact they do not. Instead, when read together through frameworks of historiography and cultural memory studies, these stories show how literature can reflect on the past in meaningful ways outside of the means of scholarly historical writing, and in doing so offer a better understanding of the status of fiction about true events, in a time in which this is increasingly contested.

December 1st, 2018

Jantine Broek | “Back in a World I Understood”: On True War Stories about Women in Vietnam

31.2 Fact and Fiction

Abstract

In the West, we know the Vietnam War as a conflict where political, physical, and emotional borders frequently became blurred. This article focuses on the war’s role in literature as such a time and place of “in-betweeness” which requires a constant switching between fact and fiction to describe. It identifies two “unbelievable” narrative ele-ments in Vietnam War stories—the supernatural and the female perspective—to illustrate the prob-lem inherent in calling these narra-tives “true war stories.”

December 1st, 2018

Elena Lamberti | Fake News, Cognitive Pollution and Environmental Awareness

31.2 Fact and Fiction

Abstract

This essay pursues the idea that within our new media eco-systems fake news, trolling—and other forms of unethical pseudo-communication—are simply an updated version of the age-old idea of mythmaking. This is a phenomenon which could be better navigated if literature is regarded as a probing tool, as in the teachings of the Toronto School of Communication, instead of seeing literature simply as a subject. Fake news is a growing tree, with roots in classical mythmaking and with branches spreading across a complex inter-media scenario that affects our way of being human (or transhuman), as well as our way of inhabiting our hyperrealities.

* This essay is a revised version of a keynote talk delivered at the conference Thinking Through the Digital in Literature: Representations+Poetics+Sites+Publications, Linköping University, Sweden, 29 November–1 December, 2017, now being printed (Elena Lamberti, “Malware Digitelling: Fakenews, Or Mythmaking 2.0?”).

December 1st, 2018

Doro Wiese | In Formation

31.2 Fact and Fiction

Abstract

In this article, I investigate how the characteristics of information—speed, instantaneity, newness, impersonality—influence human perception. I contrast these characteristics with the artwork Moule by Anna Lena Grau, a work that slows down understandings and asks its audience to take their time in making sense of it. If an artwork slows down processes of meaningmaking, it allows recipients to become aware of their own semiotic activities. I argue that information is a specific form of message, that is far from objective because it does not take personal experiences and historical, cultural, and geopolitical situatedness into account. With both kinds of procedures, I will ask what is at stake and develop an alternative vision of connecting people, histories, and events that are taking place afar.

December 1st, 2018

Grant Bollmer | The Sense of Connection, or, Complex Narratives and the Aesthetics of Truth

31.2 Fact and Fiction

Abstract

This article explores fact and fiction in digital culture by linking “complex” or “networked” narrative forms in television, Alternate Reality Games (ARGs), and other transmedia forms of storytelling—with the persistence of paranoid models of knowledge and post-critical modes of judgment. It argues that distinctions between fact and fiction are aesthetic judgments that differentiate kinds of knowledge and kinds of experience, and demonstrate the limits to contemporary articulations of critical interpretation.

December 1st, 2018

Anna Poletti | The Fiction of Identity: Drag, Affect, Genres, Facticity

31.2 Fact and Fiction

Abstract

This article considers drag as an artform that queers identity through its use of techniques of fictionality that explore and problematize the body as the material ground for truth claims for identity. It examines a recent controversy regarding the position of trans performers within the global media phenomenon RuPaul’s Drag Race in order to consider how the aesthetics and politics of embodied identity as a site for truth claims are productively disrupted by drag performance.

December 1st, 2018

Maria Boletsi | The Revenge of Fiction in New Languages of Protest: Holograms, Post-Truth, and the Literary Uncanny

31.2 Fact and Fiction

Abstract

This essay probes the political force of the fictional in new languages of protest. It centers on recent demonstrations in various cities that used holograms to oppose the criminalization of protest, state control of public space, or violation of people’s land. The hologram protests fostered a spectral space, in which the hierarchical opposition between fiction (as non-serious, trivial) and reality was redrawn differently. They thereby issued a critique of neoliberal governmentality and an unexpected challenge to post-truth politics. If post-truth rhetoric invites people’s “willing suspension of disbelief” by simulating facticity to produce “felt truths,” the hologram protests functioned as Freud’s “literary uncanny”: they reintroduced the conflict between fiction and reality as a condition for critique in a post-truth era.

December 1st, 2018