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Philosophy of Humanities: Philosophy of Fiction


Admission requirements

Admission to one of the following programmes is required:

  • MA Philosophy 120 EC: specialisation Philosophy of Humanities

  • MA Philosophy 60 EC: specialisation Modern European Philosophy


The course investigates the issues arising from a philosophical analysis of the experience of engaging and understanding fictional texts with a special concern for assessing the use of such views for ontology, theory of mind and philosophy of science.

It begins with a historical survey of the philosophical treatments of different forms of fictional experiences in myths, fantasy, and drama (in e.g. Plato, Rousseau, Nietzsche) before moving to a detailed engagement with the current state of the field of fiction (largely in the Anglo-American tradition). Key topics include the paradox of the emotional engagement with fiction (e.g. Currie and Walton), the distinction between fiction and reality, between fiction and non-fiction, the ontology of fictional works and of fictional characters, the place of the narrator in fictional texts, the role of the narrative in science (Zola) and science fiction.

Course objectives

This course aims to provide the students with an extensive understanding of the place of fiction in the history of Western philosophy; an in-depth understanding of the debates surrounding the nature of fiction and of our experience of it; and a detailed understanding of the importance of philosophy of fiction for other subfields of philosophy including philosophy of science, aesthetics, ontology and the philosophy of mind.

Students who successfully complete the course will have a good understanding of:

  • the history of the concept of fiction in philosophy;

  • the current debates in the philosophy of fiction;

  • the key concepts of the philosophy of fiction

  • the interrelations between fiction and other subfields of philosophy as well as the practice of fiction-making.

Students who successfully complete the course will be able to:

  • critically understand, comment and interconnect specialized texts and theories relative to fiction;

  • critically engage with some of the latest secondary literature on fiction;

  • present a consistent and comprehensive view of the current problems of the field and explore possible avenues of research;

  • apply some insights from the philosophy of fiction to literary analysis.


Visit MyTimetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminars

Class attendance is required.

Assessment method


  • Oral presentation and abstract: 30%

  • Final paper abstract: 5%

  • Final paper on a question agreed in advance based on abstract submitted: 65%

Class preparation and attendance are required and are conditions for submission of the final paper.


The final mark for the course is established by determination of the weighted average of several subtests (see above).


The resit will consist of one very demanding take-home exam (given at short notice) covering the entirety of the course materials, and one extended research paper. The exam contains one article/book chapter commentary and a series of short questions.
The mark for the resit replaces all previously earned marks for subtests.

Class participation is a mandatory requirement for taking the resit.
Students who have obtained a satisfactory grade for the first examination cannot take the resit.

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

All literature will be made available on Brightspace. Amongst the primary texts are:

  • Gregory Currie, The Nature of Fiction, Cambridge UP, 2008.

  • Hans Blumenberg,* Work on Myth*, MIT Press, 1985

  • Roman Ingarden, The Literary Work of Art, Trans. Grabowicz, Northwestern UP, 1979

  • Émile Zola, The Experimental Novel and Other Essays. Haskell House, 1964

Primary texts:

  • Kendall Walton, Mimesis as Make-Believe, Harvard UP, 1993.

  • Amie Thomasson, Fiction and Metaphysics, Cambridge UP, 1999 and 2008.

  • Derek Matravers, Fiction and Narrative, Oxford UP, 2014.

  • Gregory Currie, The Nature of Fiction, Cambridge UP, 2008.

  • Roman Ingarden, The Literary Work of Art, Trans. Grabowicz, Northwestern UP, 1979


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available on the website

Students are strongly advised to register in uSis through the activity number, which can be found in the timetables for courses and exams.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


Dr. F. Chouraqui


Not applicable.