English Graduate Students’ Association calls for papers on lying

Interested in lies? The English Graduate Students’ Association (EGSA) at York is calling for papers from across disciplinary borders on any aspect of what it considers an expansive field of inquiry – lying and its analogues.

Participants will present at the EGSA’s interdisciplinary conference in the humanities – Lying, Cheating and Dissimulation: Theorizing Deceit – on May 1 and 2 at York.

Some people may consider this the age of misinformation, but the history of lying and the history of language are intertwined. Truth has stood as a moral and metaphysical ideal, but so too has its constituent other – falsehood in all its myriad guises.

Friedrich Nietzsche (right) once said: “Deception, flattering, lying, deluding, talking behind the back, putting up a false front, living in borrowed splendour, wearing a mask, hiding behind convention, playing a role for others and for oneself – in short, a continuous fluttering around the solitary flame of vanity – is so much the rule and the law among men that there is almost nothing which is less comprehensible than how an honest and pure drive for truth could have arisen among them.”

The EGSA says the incomprehensible drive for truth could just as easily be conceived of as an impossible movement away from lying. As such, when contemporary political discourse trades truth for transparency, and the pluralism of online culture continues to democratize dissemination on a global scale, the ethics and esthetics of deceit appear readier than ever for theoretical reconsideration.

Some of the possible topics for papers could be inspired by, but are not limited to, the following themes: Necessary Fictions: The Ethics of Dishonesty; Perjury and False Witness: Lying and the Law; The Decay of Lying: Estheticism and Artifice; False Consciousness: Capitalism and Confabulation; The Camera Never Lies: Documentary and Dissimulation; Impostors and Impersonation; Frauds, Counterfeiters and Confidence Men; The History of Lying, or, History as Lying; Psychologies of Self-Deception; Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics; Literature and Lying, from Plato to Present; Realism, Anti-Realism, Unrealism; Unreliable Narration and the Problem of Misrepresentation; Equivocation, Sarcasm and Socratic Irony; and Insincerity, Inauthenticity and Inscrutability

A 200-300 word abstract should be e-mailed to theorizingdeceit@gmail.com by Friday, March 20.