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Philosophy of Humanities: Philosophy of Fiction


Admission requirements

Admission to this course is restricted to students enrolled in the MA Philosophy 120 EC, specialisation Philosophy of Humanities.
This course is mandatory for above mentioned students.


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 theory of mind and ontology.

It begins with a historical survey of the philosophical treatements of different forms of fictional experiences in myths, fantasy, hallucination, and drama (in Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Kant, Freud, Phenomenology and Hermeneutics) 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 (Currie, Walton, Levinson, Radford, Lamarque etc), the distinction between fiction and reality, between fiction and non-fiction, the ontology of fictional works and of fictional characters and the place of the narrator in fictional texts.

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 political philosophy, 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 (including the de se/de re opposition, the paradox of emotional response to fiction, the paradox of suspense, mandates, ficta, make-believe etc.);

  • 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.


See Timetables MA Philosophy 2015-2016

Mode of instruction

  • Lectures and seminars

Class attendance is required.

Course Load

Total course load (10 EC x 28 hrs): 280 hours

  • Attending lectures and seminars: 14 × 3 hours = 42 hours

  • Time for studying literature: 100 hours

  • Preparation of lectures and seminars: 30 hours

  • Preparation assignments: 58 hours

  • Time for completing assignments: 50 hours

Assessment method

  • Mid-term take home exam, consisting of a series of short question and one paper engaging with one main source (to choose from a list of four) (35%)

  • Final research paper on a topic arranged in advance with the instructor on the basis of an abstract. (50%)

  • One classroom presentation (15%)


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.


We will use Blackboard for posting texts, general documents (syllabus etc), assignments and updates.

Reading list

In addition to the books listed below, several extracts of which we shall use, a reading schedule (including shorter texts) and a syllabus will be made available on Blackboard.

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


Please register for this course via Study administration system uSis
See also Registration for lectures and tests

Students are strongly advised to register in uSis through the activity number which can be found in the timetable in the column under the heading “”.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


Dr. F. Chouraqui