Fiction beyond Fictionality: Using Scientific Modelling to Read Science Fiction

Lehmann, Zoe Christina (8 April 2016). Fiction beyond Fictionality: Using Scientific Modelling to Read Science Fiction (Unpublished). In: British Society for Literature and Science – Annual Conference 2016. Birmingham University. 07.-09.04.2016.

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The aim of the paper and discussion is to explore the ways in which the use of fictionality in these disciplines can in return inform the act of generating fictional readings in literary theory. We will discuss the ways in which these disciplines understand and problematise terms such as ‘real’, ‘possible’ and ‘truthful’, and explore how apparent conflicts and differences in approach can be turned into an inter-disciplinary conversation. The paper will discuss the relationship between literary theories of fictionality (Ryan, Thomasson, Eco etc.) and how these are translated for use in other disciplines such as philosophy of science and physics. For instance philosophy of science has recognised the important role of fictions in the modelling practice of diverse fields such as economics, biology, chemistry, and physics (Suarez, Godfrey-Smith, Weisberg). In describing their models, scientists often start with: “Imagine that …” This process of idealisation then gains concreteness when assumptions and empirical data become integrated into a model. One of the questions discussed in philosophy of science concerns the relation of models to the target systems. The element of fiction in this relationship puts a question mark behind the terms ‘real’, ‘possible’ and ‘truth’. The models give possible explanations about the phenomena under investigation. The paper and subsequent discussion is proposed with the intention of establishing the framework for a possible conference/workshop on the position of fiction and fictionality in the sciences and literature.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)


06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Linguistics and Literary Studies > Institute of English Languages and Literatures
10 Strategic Research Centers > Center for Space and Habitability (CSH)

UniBE Contributor:

Lehmann, Zoe Christina


800 Literature, rhetoric & criticism > 820 English & Old English literatures
400 Language > 420 English & Old English languages




Zoe Christina Lehmann Imfeld

Date Deposited:

14 Jun 2017 15:41

Last Modified:

17 Oct 2017 08:49


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