Do the portrayals of objects in literary texts represent historical evidence about the material culture of the past? Or are things in books more than things in the world?
Sophie Volpp (Comparative Literature and East Asian Languages & Cultures) considers fictional objects of the late Ming and Qing that defy being read as illustrative of historical things. Instead, she argues, fictional objects are often signs of fictionality itself, calling attention to the nature of the relationship between literature and materiality.
Volpp is joined by Dorothy J. Hale (English).