English 165

Special Topics: “Moments of Truth”: Narrating the Endings of Lies, Disinformation, and Deceit


Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
6 Spring 2021 Ramona Naddaff
W 3-6

Description

As a new year and new semester begins, we begin an investigation of the dawning of the age of post- “post-truth” or, to state it differently, of the various attempts (sometimes successful) to end the lies, lying, and liars of the 2016-2020 US Administration. What are the cultural forms that have sprouted up to describe life in this “post post-truth” age? How can we narrate the “truth” without rigid recourse to the dictates of objectivity? We locate instances and movements in the recent past and present when lies, dissimulation, disinformation, and deceit have lost their privileged place as the primary epistemological, political, cultural and social regime. This course’s occupation involves exploration of theories and movements that seek to end lying’s reign of terror and to create new representations of the world, opposing and resisting the oppressive and fatal universe of untruths. “Moments of Truth” is structured around a series of case studies, some of which have historical precedence. Among those case studies are included Black Lives Matter, #MeToo, the pandemic, climate change, work, the memoir, and the dangers posed by Internet-based disinformation.

This course does not aim to return to a notion of either objective, universal, or factual truth as a remedy for the destructive force of lies. It seeks, rather, to explore whether diverging from the requirements of “factual truth” might have the capacity to counter the force of telling and talking in lies. This course is both a reading intensive and writing intensive course, designed to teach students how to write clear, critical, and persuasive prose across a broad range of genres. While we will concentrate on the art of writing an essay, we will also experiment with other modes of writing, such as the book review, the memoir, and of the letter. Canadian designer and author Bruce Mau will run a workshop for us on internet book design. The course will culminate with the production of our own book, under his direction and design.

This course is cross-listed with Rhetoric 189.

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