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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 engages with a range of disciplines that consider the concept of truth in a post-truth era.
Editors: Vicki Madden and Maria Torres-Quevedo
Review Team Autumn 2017: Sibyl Adam, Valentina Paz Aparicio, Enti Arends, Tamara Browne, Rachel Chung*, Sini Eikonsalo, Richard Elliott, Abby Gould, Eleanor Grayson*, Kiefer Holland, Anna Jurek, Anna Kemball*, June Laurenson, Kyriana Lynch*, Harriet MacMillan, Jen Madeley, Mohamed Mahmoud, Ciara McKay, Stella Medvedeva, Beata Migut, Bridget Moynihan, Aija Oksman, Alycia Pirmohamed, Robyn Pritzker, Vivek Santayana, Julie Sorokurs, Marianne Tyvand, Toni Velikova, Felix von Helden. Article editors are marked with a (*).