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Every Fiction is a Social Documentary: the Oneiric and the Quotidian

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Organizer: Jiwei Xiao

Co-Organizer: Jason McGrath

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Extending André Bazin’s famous line, “Every film is a social documentary,” beyond cinema, this seminar invites papers that address the relationships between fiction (broadly defined) and society, particularly by focusing on two areas that are often deemed deeply private in the capitalist-industrialized West: the oneiric and the quotidian. We ask: “In what ways are dreams a collective phenomenon?” and “What aspects of our everyday practices are telling of the profoundly social nature of our life?”  If the triumph of modern fiction is to have reproduced the experience of the individual, has this only reinforced a modern fatalism as to the irresolvable separation and conflict between self and other, private desires and public life? We are looking for alternative narrative models and representational modes in literature and cinema that tell stories about the profound connections between private life and collective experience in both narrative and stylistic terms. Our seminar welcomes projects that engage with these questions from different angles and positions, but especially those that can contribute to our understanding about the meaning of the statement, “Every fiction is a social documentary,” through the twin foci of dream and the everyday.  


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