Incredible: lying, credibility, and the truth in historical research

RAI Annual Postgraduate Conference

Recent interest in fake news has spurred a host of scholarly discussions on the history of propaganda, the media, and falsehoods. Yet historians have seldom asked themselves how to cope with lying in the historical record. Not all voices are trusted equally: census reports have always generated more trust than a child’s diary while feminist historians of rape have tended to invert the he-said/she-said dynamic and trusted victims over perpetrators. Age, gender, race, and class have all affected which voices appear credible or incredible. How do historians know when our sources are lying, and how do we use sources when we know that they lie? What is lying, are there different types of lying, and do historians have to adapt their methods to each case. How are lies told, who are they told to, and why are they told?

This conference will draw together a range of historians to ask how the problem of lying affects or should affect historical research.

Call for papers

The Rothermere American Institute invites applicants for papers and panels which explore the theme of lying and historical research from any historical perspective. The one-day conference invites a broad range of speakers to reflect on the methodological problems posed by credibility and incredibility. We welcome papers on a broad range of topics including, but not limited to:

  • Falsehoods and fake news
    Puck
  • Credible and incredible historical voices
  • Age, gender, race and credibility
  • Trust as a historical method
  • Tricksters and exaggerations
  • Memory, forgetfulness, and lying
  • Trust and anonymisation

Please email paper and panel proposals to the conference organisers at oenone.kubie@history.ox.ac.uk. Proposals for individual 20-minute papers should include a 300-word abstract and a 2 page academic CV. Panel submissions should include a one-paragraph overview in addition to individual paper proposals and CVs. The deadline for submission is July 15th 2018.

A pdf version of this call for papers can be downloaded here.

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