Prof. Dr. Timo Müller, American Studies
Prof. Dr. Ian Duncan, Department of English, UC Berkeley
Prof. Dr. Timo Müller
The Fiction-Making Animal: Revisiting Literary Anthropology
Taking a cue from Wolfgang Iser’s The Fictive and the Imaginary, this year’s Wolfgang-Iser-Lecture at the University of Konstanz will bring together the theory of fiction and evolutionary natural history to consider claims upon fiction as a uniquely human production. Professor Ian Duncan, UC Berkeley, will examine Charles Darwin’s account of the evolutionary development of a distinctively human faculty of moral reflection through the cognitive capacity to imagine and compare different temporal states – opening onto hypothetical and subjunctive states, i.e. fictions. The lecture traces the sources of Darwin’s hypothesis in nineteenth-century realist fiction, its legacy in recent accounts of human cognitive evolution, and compares these with Iser’s theory of the fictive, closing with a consideration of the model of human nature that underpins Iser’s “literary anthropology,” and its genealogy in earlier debates.