Exploring the Shadowlands

Towards an Understanding of the Interaction between Fiction and Non-Fiction

  • Period: 2022-01-01 – 2024-12-31
  • Funder: Swedish Research Council
  • Type of funding: Project grant


This project examines interactions between ficiton and non-fiction. Its theoretical approach is situated at the intersection of philosophy of language, linguistics, and epistemology. As both producers and consumers of information we make a fundamental distinction between fiction and non-fiction. Yet the boundary is often blurred. Works of fiction often contain factual information. And non-fiction often includes fictional elements. This project focuses on two main areas of interaction between fiction and non-fiction. The first is the representation of non-fictional events or states of affairs within fiction. The second concerns fictional metarepresentation within non-fiction, that is, the way in which non-fiction sometimes introduces fictional accounts of what someone said or thought. The project aims to develop a theory of how such cases convey information, both fictional and non-fictional, and on the other hand, what audiences can learn from them. The project will draw on recent approaches to fictional discourse in philosophy and linguistics to develop a theory of the semantics and pragmatics of discourse that blends fiction and non-fiction, and to use the resulting theoretical framework for understanding its wider ramifications. A central goal will be to explore a notion of factional information that is neither fictional nor non-fictional.