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Victoria Rielly

Mini-Research Project
November 25th 2014
Power & Imagination
Mini-Research Topic Proposal:
The topic I chose is derived from both Doris Lessing's Under My Skin and Reeling for the
Empire. The basis is that absorbing fiction changes our perception of the real world, and can
make abstract ideas more relatable. So far I have been able to find several sources that relate to
the topic of fiction influencing fact, and with more research will likely find some articles relating
to the second half of the topic.
Annotated Bibliography:
Barber, Karin. "Learning from Fiction about Representing Reality: Jane Austen and the Fiction
of Culture. Richard Handler, Daniel Segal." Current Anthropology 33.4 (1992): 477.
Web. 20 Nov. 2014.
This article focuses on Jane Austen, and her style of fiction as being representative of
reality. It describes her work in great detail, then relates it directly to my topic by
summarizing that people have been shown to relate and understand to the events Austen
tackles in her fiction, because they can look at it from an external point of view. This
article is from a peer reviewed journal.
Butler, Andrew C., Nancy A. Dennis, and Elizabeth J. Marsh. "Inferring Facts from Fiction:
Reading Correct and Incorrect Information Affects Memory for Related Information."
Memory 20.5 (2012): 487-98. Web. 20 Nov. 2014.
This article is similar to others by Elizabeth Marsh, but has additional, more varied points
of view, this is likely because of the other contributing authors. It still talks about the
same basic concepts of our view on reality being influenced by the fiction we absorb, and
how this creates false memories. False memories are defined in this article as being
something we believe is true, but that actually is derived almost entirely from fiction. The
article is from a peer reviewed journal.

Inglis, Ruth A. "An Objective Approach to the Relationship Between Fiction and Society."
American Sociological Review 3.4 (1938): 526. Web. 20 Nov. 2014.
This is an older journal article, so it only references fiction in the form of literature, not in
the form of movies or TV. It's still surprisingly relevant in some aspects, and could still
relate to the topic in that it provides a basis for comparison between the conclusions this
author drew in the past, and what more modern writers have to say on the topic.
Mallon, Thomas. Never Happened. New Yorker 21 Nov. 2011: 117 121. Print.
This is not a scholarly article, but more of an entertainment piece. It talks about historical
fiction, and includes some simple explainations as to why this type of writing is both
intriguing and confusing, because it can mess with or influence our perception of how the
historical event really happened. Not peer reviewed or entirely credible, but still useful.
Mar, Raymond A., Keith Oatley, Maja Djikic, and Justin Mullin. "Emotion and Narrative
Fiction: Interactive Influences Before, During, and after Reading."Cognition &
Emotion 25.5 (2011): 818-33. Web. 20 Nov. 2014.
This article explores the emotions involved in reading a fiction story, and the differences
between someone's point of view as they begin the book or story, and when they finish
reading. There is often a huge gap between what people anticipate in a story, and what
they actually end up feeling about the outcome. This doesn't exactly relate to my topic,
but is an interesting paper.
Marsh, Elizabeth J. "Learning Facts from Fiction." Journal of Memory and Language 49.4
(2003): 519-36. Web. 20 Nov. 2014.
This article was very interesting, it detailed the results of a study where people absorbed
various forms of fiction, mostly short stories, then after a pause were asked to take a
simple general knowledge exam. The results found that most subjects did use information
from the fiction stories to answer the questions, and that the information was not always
correct, but they accepted it as the truth. This is a credible source from a peer reviewed
journal, and also another authored by Elizabeth Marsh, who seems to be quite the expert
on this topic.
Marsh, Elizabeth J., and Lisa K. Fazio. "Learning Errors from Fiction: Difficulties in Reducing
on Fictional Stories." Memory & Cognition 34.5 (2006): 1140-149. Web. 20 Nov. 2014.
A third entry by Elizabeth Marsh, this journal article had a lot of information, and mostly
focused on the results of an experiment in which the subjects were asked to read 6th-12th

grade level fiction then draw conclusions from it and look for errors or continuity issues.
The study found that these people tended to miss simple errors in the writing unless they
were reminded that their task was to be looking for mistakes. This is a credible source, I
know the author has written multiple papers on this very subject, also from a peer
reviewed journal.

Parrinder, Patrick. Learning from Other Worlds: Estrangement, Cognition, and the Politics of
Science Fiction and Utopia. Durham: Duke UP, 2001. Print.
I didn't have time to read all of this book, but did search it's table of contents and works
cited page for interesting information. I found that it references Aristotle, discusses how
modern society can learn from or relate to the models of government in science-fiction
literature, and the dangers and challenges involved in trying to form a 'utopian' state. This
focuses more on fiction than fact, but still can relate to the topic, and seemes to be from
an author who's done his research.

Research Analasis:
Most of the keywords I used were tied in with the word 'fiction'. The most common
words were 'memory' 'influence' 'perceptions' 'reality' and 'emotion'. From these keywords I was
able to elaborate on the basic concept and branch out to find both scholarly and non-scholarly
articles and books.
I mostly focused on the scholarly ones because they best related to the topic, but did
decide to include some less factual sources in the bibliography as well. Overall it wasn't hard to
find or cite sources, but was hard to make sure that the sources were focused and helpful to the
topic, this took lots of reading, skimming, and looking beyond the title of each source, because
titles often can't capture all the information in each resource.