CFP Issue 25: Truth (2017)

28-May-2017

© Wellcome Images

The idea of truth has become all the more contentious in light of recent social and political developments. Truth claims have long been a cause for scepticism within the humanities, with the advent of poststructuralism particularly highlighting the interaction between “truth” and power, leading scholars to be suspicious of transcendental truths or metanarratives. Feminists and writers of colour have raised similar concerns about truth claims; Jane Flax asks, “If there is no objective basis for distinguishing between true and false beliefs, then it seems that power alone will determine the outcome of competing truth claims” (Feminism/Postmodernism 42). In this light, discourses surrounding truth have been deemed somewhat suspicious, particularly for marginalised groups. There has likewise been scrutiny on the truth effects created in literature, and how generic conventions naturalise certain metanarratives. With this in mind, how can literature and popular culture use fiction to engage with truth and the power dynamics implicit in it?

The position of truth in the humanities has been further complicated by recent public discourse, influenced by the Trump administration and the Brexit campaign. These have ushered in an era of post-truth, Oxford English Dictionary’s word of the year 2016. Post- truth, which the OED describes as a state in which public opinion is based on emotion and belief rather than objective fact, closely aligns with what Stephen Colbert refers to as “truthiness,” defined as “the belief in what you feel to be true rather than what the facts will support” (“‘Post-Truth' Is Just A Rip-Off Of ‘Truthiness’” YouTube). The post-truth era has highlighted the dangers of eschewing the notion of truth altogether, exposing how easily the pubic can be swayed by arguments that tap into their social anxiety and biases, regardless of conflicting evidence. What role can both fiction and non-fiction play in navigating the post- truth era? How is the distinction between fiction and non-fiction complicated by the precarious position of truth in contemporary society?

Issue 25 of FORUM seeks contributions from a range of disciplines that engage with the concept of truth. How, in this climate, can we responsibly approach the idea of truth? What position does this leave marginalised people in with regards to truth claims? How are certain truths central to our social structures? How have writers navigated or conceptualised the relationship between fiction and truth, and how might that relationship be politicised? How do genres create the effect of truth? And how might these effects be disturbed?

Suggested topics include, but are not limited to:

Fiction

  • Genre and truth effects
  • Authenticity
  • Life-writing
  • Unreliable narration
  • Fictional testimony

Social

  • Universal truths
  • Truth and social order
  • Counter histories 
  • Truth and nationhood 
  • Post truth/Truthiness

Identity

  • Epistemic injustice
  • Trustworthiness
  • Racial/ cultural/ sexual/ gender authenticity 
  • Truth and power

Philosophy

  • Objectivity
  • Religion
  • Changing truths
  • Poststructuralism
  • Truth and ethics

Papers must be between 3,000 – 5,000 words in length, formatted according to MLA guidelines. FORUM is also considering academic book reviews (1,000 words) and multimedia and alternative presentations for publication. Please e-mail your article, a short abstract and your academic CV in separate, clearly labelled DOC(X). files to editors@forumjournal.org by Tuesday, 12 September 2017. All eligible articles will be peer reviewed prior to publication. Only one submission per author per issue is permitted.