After Fiction: Sianne Ngai
“That which, or something that, is imaginatively invented; feigned existence, event, or state of things; invention as opposed to fact.” This is the OED definition of fiction.
In modern art studies, this understanding of the divide between the fictional and what is real is essential to a number of fundamental concepts such as representation, imagination, invention, plot, fantasy, and many more. Fiction, indeed, is a fundamental tenet in the basic understanding of what art is – whether as something superior to mere facts, or as something that is dispensed of conforming to the reign of the factual.
However, this understanding is also challenged in today’s culture. In the realm of art, we are witnessing a rapid growth of works and events that overtly and provocatively use and display non-fictional forms, claims and materials. Inversely, the social realms of information, politics and economy are getting still more dependent on forms and ideas that bear more resemblance to fictional phenomena than to actually assignable facts on the ground. Information is instrumental in strategic warfare agendas, political claims address affects of imaginary scenarios, assessment of bonds and stocks becomes relative to a finely tuned set of values, faith professions and expectations, and so on. With this symposium, we will discuss how the neatly delineated “realms” of the invented and the factual become entangled, blurred, contested, negotiated or recast.
November 3rd Keynote
Sianne Ngai: "Transparency and Magic in the Gimmick as Technique"
Sianne Ngai is Professor at the Dept of English at University of Chicago. She is the author of Ugly Feelings (2005, Harvard University Press) which investigates the aesthetics and politics of non-prestigious, non-cathartic negative emotions—envy and irritation as opposed to anger and fear, as well as Our Aesthetic Categories: Zany, Cute, Interesting (2012, Harvard University Press), which argues for the contemporary centrality of three everyday, vernacular aesthetic categories. Theory of the Gimmick: Aesthetic Judgment and Capitalist Form is forthcoming from Harvard University Press in 2020.
After Fiction is a graduate symposium with keynote lectures open to the public. Paper sessions are restricted to registered participants. Questions may be directed to Ina Blom at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Image: Hannah Höch, High Finance, 1923