What is the concept of "Willing Suspension of Disbelief"? How can I connect this definition to notions of Anti-realism and Realism? How do these movements of conceptions connect to the idea of how...

What is the concept of "Willing Suspension of Disbelief"? How can I connect this definition to notions of Anti-realism and Realism? How do these movements of conceptions connect to the idea of how we attempt to evoke a response with an audience?

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esoppelt | High School Teacher | In Training Educator

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The concept of suspending belief was created by the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge. He wanted readers to accept the world created in the poem, to suspend their disbelief of fantastic ideas or worlds within the poem so they could appreciate what the poet was trying to say. To understand the poem, readers should put aside their ideas of what is real or what makes sense and immerse themselves in the world the poet created. Suspension of disbelief has been expanded beyond poetry to all kinds of art forms, including theatre, television, film and literature. 

Suspension of belief applies to these art forms to varying extents. In realism, there are generally only a few things that the audience or reader needs to suspend their disbelief about. Realism attempts to re-create life as accurately as possible so there are only small things that the audience must suspend their disbelief about. 

In anti-realism, on the other hand, the piece is not attempting to represent real life. The goal is not to show real life but to show ideas, emotions or concepts. The audience must suspend their disbelief in illogical events or the unreality of what they see or read in order to understand what the piece is trying to say.  

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