Centre for Studies in Literature

Postgraduate Conference 2018

Post-Truth: An Interdisciplinary Exploration

March 24th 2018, University of Portsmouth


Professor Steve Fuller (University of Warwick)

Call for Papers

Post-Truth, as a concept, seemed to exemplify 2016. The term, in fact, was appointed word of the year by Oxford Dictionaries, underscoring its pre-eminence. The phenomenon is characterized by notions of ‘fake news’, ‘alternative facts’, and ‘false information’, but is this simply academic residue from the postmodern debate trickling down to its broader expression in social media?

Despite seeming to be singularly of the moment, it is by no means a new concept. Its origins can be found in George Orwell’s “Doublespeak” or, indeed, those real-world totalitarian governments which sought to efface the truth with their confidently stated and frequently repeated lies. Now, as in 1942, we may say that ‘intellectual honesty and balanced judgement have simply disappeared from the face of the earth’.

The aim of this conference is to examine the current resonance of ‘post-truth’ from an interdisciplinary perspective. The goal is to explore not only the historical and literary origins of the concept, but also the emergence of a new language - the increasing frequency of certain terms specific to the issue and the context in which they appear. The conference will also explore the concept of post-truth by factoring in the emergence of new communications technologies and the associated impact of the media -- two factors which often overlap. To borrow from Ali Smith, can we say that thought now functions “at the speed of Tweet”? Do we live lives of pure immediacy, in which facts go unverified and opinion has the same weight as truth? The concept of post-truth would seem to imply an exaggerated tension between the notions of subjective and historical truth.

We welcome all submissions relating to the emergence of ‘post-truth’, including historical parallels for the concept and its present-day implications.

Suggested topics for discussion include:

  1. The totalitarian origins of ‘post-truth’.
  2. The emerging language of ‘post-truth’.
  3. The demography of ‘post-truth’. Is there a racial or gendered aspect to the concept?
  4. ‘Post-truth’ and conceptions of self.
  5. Truth as a communal concept.
  6. Post-Truth and the Post-human.

Each conference paper will last between 15 and 20 minutes. We request that you submit a 250-300 word proposal on your given subject, along with a short CV/biography, to the following email address: david.dickson@port.ac.uk

The deadline for conference submissions will be the 31st of December, 2017.