Peter Rabinowitz Presents at Narrative Conference
April 20, 2011
Professor of Comparative Literature Peter J. Rabinowitz delivered a paper, “Putting Fiction to the Test,” at the International Conference on Narrative in St. Louis on April 8. Returning to issues initially raised in some of his earlier work, Rabinowitz centered on a series of questions concerning the border between fiction and non-fiction.
After a brief discussion of the ways in referentiality allows us to judge authorial craft, knowledge, and ethics, Rabinowitz moved on to interpretive questions. Calling on a wide range of examples from both popular and canonical fiction (this was the only paper at the conference that held Paddington Bear up to Marcel Proust), he pointed to some of the signals by which texts let us know how to take “real-world” references in a work of fiction, proposing three broad rules of signification that help us navigate the tricky terrain where fiction and non-fiction meet.