Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek - NWO
Early in his career, Hayden White has remarked that it is important to understand what is fictive in all putatively realistic representations of the world, and what is realistic in all manifestly fictive ones. In the past decades only the first half of this project has been taken up: Whitean tropics can be regarded as a research strategy to understand the fictionality of texts that claim to offer a realistic representation of the world. The proposed project however intends to make a start with understanding the second part: how reality is present in fictive, or, better: authored representations of the world. Though we are quite conscious of its wider ramifications, and though we do not intend to let ourselves be impeded by disciplinary boundaries, we want to focus on the form this question has in the study of history. In history the question into the realism of fictional representations of the world has the form of how the past can move us (in both senses of the word) in a way that cannot be explained by the meaning of the representations in which we get to know it.