The Routledge Handbook of Fiction and Belief offers a fresh reevaluation of the relationship between fiction and belief, surveying key debates and perspectives from a range of disciplines including narrative and cultural studies, science, religion, and politics. This volume draws on global, cutting edge research and theory to investigate the historically variable understandings of fictionality, and allows readers to grasp the role of fictions in our understanding of the world.

This interdisciplinary approach provides a thorough introduction to the fundamental themes of:

  • Theoretical and Philosophical Perspectives on Fiction
  • Fiction, Fact, and Science
  • Social Effects and Uses of Fiction
  • Fiction and Politics
  • Fiction and Religion

Questioning how fictions in fact shape, mediate or distort our beliefs about the real world, essays in this volume outline the state of theoretical debates from the perspectives of literary theory, philosophy, sociology, religious studies, history, and the cognitive sciences. It aims to take stock of the real or supposed effects that fiction has on the world, and to offer a wide-reaching reflection on the implications of belief in fictions in the so-called “post-truth” era.

chapter |12 pages


part I|126 pages

Believing in Fiction

chapter 2|13 pages

The “Willing Suspension of Disbelief”

The Long History of a Short Phrase

chapter 3|11 pages

The Fictionality of Games and the Ludic Nature of Fiction

Make-Believe, Immersion, Play

chapter 4|12 pages

Fictional Emotions and Belief

chapter 5|11 pages

Fictional Characters and Belief

chapter 8|14 pages

Fiction and Historiography

chapter 9|11 pages

Fiction and Scientific Knowledge

part II|197 pages

From Fiction to Belief

chapter 15|13 pages

From Suspension of Disbelief to Production of Belief

The Case of Alternate Reality Games

chapter 18|12 pages

Trust, Credulity, and Speech

chapter 19|9 pages

Literature on Credit

Fiction and the Fiduciary Paradigm

chapter 23|12 pages

Can Fictions Predict the Future?

chapter 25|13 pages

Fiction, Belief, and Climate Change

Paratexts, Skeptics, and Objects of Care

part III|141 pages

Fiction and Religious Belief

chapter 26|10 pages

Greek Mythology

Discourse, Belief, and Ritual Action

chapter 27|14 pages

Fiction and Belief

Approaching Medieval Latin Christendom

chapter 30|13 pages

The Role of Fiction in Buddhist Hagiography

The Case of Shinran

chapter 34|12 pages

On Jewish Fiction and Belief

Duplicity, Parables, Confession