This article scrutinizes stories produced, distributed, and circulated outside the literary field to reexamine the nature of literature as sets of cultural activities in specific periods and locations. It argues that these texts which poetically and aesthetically resemble literary artifacts yet do not perform in the cultural matrix as such actually prove that literary materials and tools are “leaking” through the permeable cultural borders of the literary field to other cultural and social fields, serving various purposes and objectives. Exploring two examples – a fiction describing the unthinkable nuclear future and a microhistory reconstructing an elusive past – the article suggests that fictions which have been constructed outside the literary realm (by historians, political scientists, physicists, and others) are useful methodologies when standard disciplinary research procedures and methods are inadequate or irrelevant. In these circumstances imaginative stories enable researchers and other cultural figures to construct and transfer new knowledge efficiently. This crossover of devices and poetic structures from the literary field into other cultural arenas implies the significant cultural role played by literature even when its social function seems to be declining.

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