The construction of reality in the post-truth age
VASILE ALECSANDRI UNIVERSITY
FACULTY OF LETTERS
CALL FOR PAPERS
INTERSTUDIA academic journal
THE CONSTRUCTION OF REALITY IN THE POST-TRUTH AGE
In 2016, Oxford Dictionaries declared ‘post-truth’ as the international word of the year. It was selected from a shortlist that also contained words like ‘alt-right’ and ‘Brexiteer’, whose relevance for the political turmoil of the year was evident. Yet the appeal of the term post-truth was undeniably stronger: this was a word that promised to make a career as the expression of one essential trait of an age. The ‘post-truth’ syntagm first appeared used with the current meaning in a 1992 article in which an American journalist made a pioneering observation referring to a certain “spiritual mechanism” through which we have come to “denude truth of any significance”, thus transforming ourselves into “prototypes of a people that totalitarian monsters could only drool about in their dreams” (Tesich, 1992).
Recent historical events have showed us that the erasure of all substance from truth is best achieved when the distinction between fact and fiction no longer exists. A series of social phenomena have largely contributed to this, among them, most prominently, fake news and their implied corollary, the production of alternative facts or realities. For many, what is referred to as an alternative fact is nothing more than a stylistically disguised lie. It resembles many other euphemisms that have penetrated contemporary cultural discourse: parallel truth, nuanced truth, counterfactual statements, strategic misrepresentations, selective disclosure, etc.
The pervasive presence of such discursive legerdemains that are meant to hide and denature the real facts is a symptom of the ethical erosion of a society increasingly built on lying and pretence. One might even speak of an “alt.ethics” (Keyes, 2004) – an alternative moral system which allows one to lie without being affected by guilt or by remorse and in which dissembling is no longer considered necessarily wrong or dishonest. This is the result of the relativization of truth in our society. This relativization has been sanctioned by the tenets of poststructuralist deconstructionism. It has been further enforced by the now omnipresent and omnipotent new channels of virtual communication where, in the absence of any institution that could establish filters, belief in truth has become almost impossible. Under such circumstances, people tend to disregard what others say and hold tight to their own, sometimes parochial, convictions.
“We live in one world only, not in two”, John Searle (1995) confidently stated, while arguing that it would be a fallacy to equate truth and reality, since the structure of reality and the structure of real representations can never be isomorphic. What we need to take into consideration is the idea that reality does not predetermine at all the modes in which it can be described. Various vocabularies can be constructed to describe the various aspects of reality according to various objectives. Social reality is an intersubjective phenomenon that should be grounded in a series of verified facts, widely accepted as true. In the post-truth society in which the search for truth matters far less than the presentation and reception of what goes as truth, the classical schemes involved in the construction of reality are fundamentally altered. It is no longer demonstrable facts that legitimate the knowledge constituting the foundation of the symbolic universe people share, but data. Numerical approaches use data in algorithms which constitute the basis for the justification of opinions and judgments. Semiotic processes are heavily influenced by subjective perception and by the pervading manipulation of emotionality. The old consensus on what objective reality is can no longer be attained. There is no more clear black and white separation between truth and falseness, but only shades of grey and matters of taste.
Language is now, more than ever, the supreme instrument in the creation of that reality in which we imagine we live, a reality which can also be seen as “hyperreal” (Baudrillard, 1981). Hyperreality is a reality that has lost difference and reference by equating the real with the models of simulation whereby that real is produced. Simulation implies a disturbing absence at the core of signs that are deprived of any representational value. Images that used to be reflections of a profound reality gradually turn into icons that are their own pure simulacra, with no relation to any reality whatsoever. And when the real has become impossible to find, the possibility of illusion is also compromised. All we are left with is a parody world within which discourses endlessly compete for primacy and in which power entirely and dangerously depends on rhetorical means.
Is meaning and value still recoverable in a post-truth age? How can we counteract discursive manipulation? How can we correctly identify the vested interests behind what is made to look as innocent heart-breaking emotion? In what ways can specialists in any epistemological field restore the authority of truth and facts? What discursive strategies can be adopted that should teach humans how to defend themselves from the dangers of all sorts of propaganda and disinformation? In what ways can arts and literature still help us recover and enhance our humanism? What perspectives can offer us valuable clues while we deal with the degrees of verisimilitude of post-truth realities?
We invite specialists in such fields as linguistics, discursive analysis, literature, communication studies, cultural studies, sociology, arts, philosophy, journalism, digital humanities etc. to contribute papers addressing problems related to the issues presented above. The following topics are suggested, but by no means should they be considered exhaustive:
The role of language in the construction of post-truth meaning
Data, information and knowledge
Truth and truthfulness in contemporary discourses
The manipulation of emotion in the media
Truth versus opinion/interpretation in the post-truth society
The role of humanities in the recovery of meaning and value
Ethics and post-truth
ICT (Information & Communication Technologies) and post-truth
The role of numerical devices in creating or denouncing falseness
Social media and the propagation of post-truth attitudes
Submission of articles: 25th June 2019
Confirmation of publication acceptance: 20th July 2019
Paper publication: 30th September 2019
The articles will be peer-reviewed and published in Interstudia, an academic journal based at the Faculty of Letters, Vasile Alecsandri University of Bacau, Romania, indexed in international databases like EBSCO, CEEOL, Index Copernicus, Fabula, KVK. For more information on the journal, visit the site: http://interstudia.ub.ro/en
The publication fee is 15 EURO, payable after the article has been accepted for publication (all the necessary details will be provided in due time).
Papers can be written in English, French, Italian, Spanish. Text will be written in Windows, Microsoft Word, B5 format, Times New Roman, 11, one line spacing, left-right alignment. Margins: left: 3 cm; right, up, down: 2 cm.
The articles must be written on an even number of pages and should not exceed 12 pages (including the bibliography).
The first page must contain:
- title of the article, centered (Times New Roman, 12, bold) in upper case;
- 3 rows below, author / author's surname and name (Times New Roman, 12, bold);
- 1 row below, University / affiliation, under the author's name (Times New Roman, 12);
- e-mail address of the author, under affiliation;
- 2 rows below, article abstract (10-15 lines) and 5 keywords (Times New Roman, 11). The word Abstract must be written in italics (no tab), the compound word Key-words in bold (no tab) and the actual key-words in italics.
- 1 row below, the text of the article (Times New Roman, 11).
In the text of the article, titles of books, magazines, newspapers, etc. will be written in italics. The titles of chapters, articles and short writings, such as poems or short stories, will be written in quotes.
The footnotes will contain only the supplementary information; the bibliographic references will be listed in the BIBLIOGRAPHY at the end of the article.
The chapters will be numbered with Arabic numerals (1, 2, 3 etc.) and the subchapters will be hierarchically numbered inside the chapter (1.1, 1.2, etc.).
The pages shall not be numbered.
Quotations in the text:
Each quotation should be placed between quotes (typographic “...”) followed by the author’s reference, the date of publication, and the page from which it is extracted (Author’s name, year of publication: page).
e. g. “According to Desiderius Erasmus, chief architect of Renaissance humanist educational theory, the main hope of a state lies in the proper education of its youth” (Bate, 2008: 126).
If the name of the author is previously quoted in the text on the same page, only the date of publication and the pages will be placed in brackets: e. g. (2008: 126).
If the title is mentioned in the text immediately preceding the quotation, only the pages should be indicated.
Quotations or examples exceeding three lines will be inserted one row after the article text, without quotation marks, at two tabs away from the left margin (Times New Roman, 11). The final punctuation is preceded by the parenthesis. The subtraction of a passage from a quote will be indicated by three points in square brackets.
The bibliographic list of the cited works will be at the end of the text (not in the footnotes), one row below from the last line of the text, after the word BIBLIOGRAPHY (Times New Roman, 11, bold).
The bibliography should include all the documents explicitly quoted in the text.
The bibliography should be organized strictly in the alphabetical order of the authors, then chronologically, then by title. Each reference must end with a full stop. For references, the following rules will be met:
1. Paper, chapter from a paper in printed format:
NAME, Surname, year of publication, Title of the work, Tome, Edition, Place of publishing, Publishing House, (Title of collection):
KERBRAT-ORECCHIONI, Catherine, 1977, La connotation, Lyon, Presses Universitaires de Lyon.
2. Articles in magazines or newspapers:
NAME, Surname, year of publication, “Title of article”, in Title of magazine/newspaper, volume, issue, Edition, Place of publishing, Publishing House, page.
KLEIBER, George, 1994, “Contexte, interprétation et mémoire: approche standard vs approche cognitive”, in Langue française, no 103, Paris, Larousse, pp. 9-22.
3. Work in electronic format
NAME, Surname, year of publication, Title of the paper. Tome [online], Edition, Place of publishing: Commercial publisher, Number of pages (Title of collection). Format. Available on: <URL> (access date).
4. Internet sites (Websites or Blogs)
Homepage title [online]. Available on: <URL> (access date).
5. Several authors:
Up to 3 names of authors: quote 3 names, separated by commas:
AMOSSY, Ruth, HERSCHBERG PIERROT, Anne.
More than 3 names: quote first name or first three names followed by: “et al.”:
DANON-BOILEAU, Laurent et al.
Please send the article together with the author information to the following email address: email@example.com by 25th June 2019.
– Name and surname:
– Academic title:
– Personal research areas:
– Email address: