The Conspiratorial Imagination in Literature and Lore Spring 2019

RUSS 38.10/COLT 63.02 (LIT; WCult:W)
Lynn Patyk @ 10A Hour

Can we tell truth from fiction? Do our primary truth telling and reality constructing vehicles – narrative and hermeneutics – exist so that we can or can’t?  In this course, we will explore two national traditions that have historically offered diametrically opposing portraits of reality: the Anglo-American and the Russian. Likewise, the object of our investigation is two-fold: conspiracy narratives and conspiracy theories. Are conspiracy theories, originally an oral genre with roots in rumor, a species of folklore? Can the same be said of conspiracies, which are hatched in whispers? Which generic features, tropes, and narrative strategies do conspiracy theories and narratives have in common, and where do they diverge? Do there exist formal bases by which we can meaningfully and credibly distinguish a conspiracy narrative from a conspiracy theory, or only with reference to an externally verifiable reality? If the latter, how do we reckon with the narrative construction of reality? Finally, we ask, are post-modernist paradigms that posit the virtual replacement of reality by simulacra veracious descriptions of reality or do they function as conspiracy theories in their own right?

Please contact Lynn Patyk with any questions.
[email protected]