book club: Fiction as Method

posted: 21-08-2020

Shaw, J.K. & Reeves-Evison, T. (eds) Sternberg Press, 2017.

Fiction As Method is a collection of essays which demonstrate how fictions play a role in ‘everyday life’, to argue that fiction can be a research method. In the introduction, Shaw and Reeves-Evison state the collection shows: “ fictions can be used as a means of revealing the hidden workings of a state of affairs, and even if establishing a certain agency within it. Far from being an escape from the world, then, here fiction takes us to its symbolic center, and might allow us to establish some leverage within the tangled contingencies and hidden conventions that lie there.” (7)

Also in the intro, Shaw and Reeves-Evison identify two overlapping ‘strands of fiction as method’ that run through the collection:

“Those that reveal structures and gain agency in the construction of the everyday, and those that are deployed as holes to let in the ‘future’ or ‘abstract outside’.” (9) These strands overlap, according to the authors, in areas of the globe that are “still inhabited by chimeras and spirits whose presence have a real effect—whether one ‘believes’ in them or not.” An example close to home and this project is the First Nations notion of Country and related Dreamtime, which allow for ghosts of the past to exist in the present plane. See also Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet.