Exposition 31.2 Fact and Fiction

As you may have noticed, this issue of FRAME did not include the usual exposition, listing recent books connected to our theme. This was because this issue is so full of amazing articles, we had to cut a few pages! However, we did compile a lovely exposition, and it would be a shame not to share it, so here it is…

d’Ancona, Matthew
Post-Truth: The New War on Truth and How to Fight Back
Ebury Press, 2017
ISBN 978-1-7850-3687-3

Welcome to the Post-Truth era—a time in which the art of the lie is shaking the very foundations of democracy and the world as we know it. The Brexit vote, Donald Trump’s victory, the rejection of climate change science, the vilification of immigrants, all have been based on the power to evoke feelings and not facts. So what does it all mean and how can we champion truth in a time of lies and “alternative facts”? In this eye-opening and timely book, Post-Truth is distinguished from a long tradition of political lies, exaggeration, and spin. What is new is not the mendacity of politicians but the public’s response to it and the ability of new technologies and social media to manipulate, polarize, and entrench opinion. Where trust has evaporated, conspiracy theories thrive, the authority of the media wilt, and emotions matter more than facts. Now, one of the UK’s most respected political journalists, Matthew d’Ancona, investigates how we got here, why quiet resignation is not an option and how we can and must fight back.

Fuller, Steve
Post-Truth: Knowledge as a Power Game
Anthem Press, 2018
ISBN 978-1-7830-8694-8

“Post-truth” was Oxford Dictionaries’ 2016 word of the year. While the term was coined by its disparagers in the light of the Brexit and US presidential campaigns, the roots of post-truth lie deep in the history of Western social and political theory. Post-Truth reaches back to Plato, ranging across theology and philosophy, to focus on the Machiavellian tradition in classical sociology, as exemplified by Vilfredo Pareto, who offered the original modern account of post-truth in terms of the “circulation of elites.” The defining feature of “post-truth” is a strong distinction between appearance and reality which is never quite resolved and so the strongest appearance ends up passing for reality. The only question is whether more is gained by rapid changes in appearance or by stabilizing one such appearance. Post-Truth plays out what this means for both politics and science.

Gilmore, Leigh
Tainted Witness: Why We Doubt What Women Say About Their Lives
Columbia UP, 2017
ISBN 978-0-2311-7715-3

Why are women so often considered unreliable witnesses to their own experiences? How are women discredited in legal courts and in courts of public opinion? Why is women’s testimony so often mired in controversies fueled by histories of slavery and colonialism? How do new feminist witnesses enter testimonial networks and disrupt doubt? Tainted Witness examines how gender, race, and doubt stick to women witnesses as their testimony circulates in search of an adequate witness. Judgment falls unequally upon women who bear witness, as well-known conflicts about testimonial authority in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries reveal. Women’s testimonial accounts demonstrate both the symbolic potency of women’s bodies and speech in the public sphere and the relative lack of institutional security and control to which they can lay claim. Each testimonial act follows in the wake of a long and invidious association of race and gender with lying that can be found to this day within legal courts and everyday practices of judgment, defining these locations as willfully unknowing and hostile to complex accounts of harm. Bringing together feminist, literary, and legal frameworks, Leigh Gilmore provides provocative readings of what happens when women’s testimony is discredited. She demonstrates how testimony crosses jurisdictions, publics, and the unsteady line between truth and fiction in search of justice.

Mickwitz, Nina
Documentary Comics: Graphic Truth-Telling in a Skeptical Age
Palgrave Macmillan, 2016
ISBN 978-1-349-55895-7

Can comics be documentary, and can documentary take the form of, and thus be, comics? Examining comics as documentary, this book challenges the persistent assumption that ties documentary to recording technologies, and instead engages an understanding of the category in terms of narrative, performativity, and witnessing. Through a cluster of early twenty-first century comics, Nina Mickwitz argues that these comics share a documentary ambition to visually narrate and represent aspects and events of the real world.

Schaberg, Christopher
The Work of Literature in an Age of Post-Truth
Bloomsbury, 2018
ISBN 978-1-5013-3429-0

What is the role of literary studies in an age of Twitter threads and viral news? If the study of literature today is not just about turning to classic texts with age-old questions, neither is it a rejection of close reading or critical inquiry. Through the lived experience of a humanities professor in a rapidly changing world, this book explores how the careful study of literature and culture may be precisely what we need to navigate our dizzying epoch of post-truth politics and ecological urgency.

Wiese, Doro
The Powers of the False: Reading, Writing, Thinking beyond Truth and Fiction
Northwestern UP, 2014
ISBN 978-0-8101-3004-3

Can literature make it possible to represent histories that are otherwise ineffable? Making use of the Deleuzian concept of “the powers of the false,” Doro Wiese offers readings of three novels that deal with the Shoah, with colonialism, and with racialized identities. She argues that Jonathan Safran Foer’s Everything Is Illuminated, Richard Flanagan’s Gould’s Book of Fish, and Richard Powers’s The Time of Our Singing are novels in which a space for unvoiced, silent, or silenced difference is created. Seen through the lens of Deleuze and his collaborators’ philosophy, literature is a means for mediating knowledge and affects about historical events. Going beyond any simple dichotomy between true and untrue accounts of what “really” happened in the past, literature’s powers of the false incite readers to long for a narrative space in which p