Misinformation, Disinformation, and Propaganda in Greek Historiography
Carolyn Dewald (Bard College) [email@example.com]
Thomas Figueira (Rutgers University) [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Rosaria Vignolo Munson (Swarthmore College) [email@example.com]
Our era—when “fake news,” election tampering through misrepresentation, censorship of electronic media, even “truthiness” have roiled political discourse—may in its turn be an opportune time for scholars invested in the study of ancient historiography to examine patterns of distortion in historical discourse. Such investigations can uncover basic aspects of existential orientation such as the presence of standards of objectivity and their internalization, and even basic perceptions how one decision or event causes (or even affects) another. Moreover, any reasoned explanation of how things happen entangles their narrator in a theory of human agency. Our investigations often visit a borderland inhabited by sources and historians, where we ponder the historians’ representation of the political discourse of their historical agents rather than the deformations by the historians themselves. Naturally, scholarly judgments that strive to distinguish honest error from deliberate falsehood ought to lead to discussions about communal norms, prejudices, ethnocentrism, orality versus textuality, and the privileging (or delegitimizing) of certain sources or testimonia. Our panel title evokes three patent modalities of misrepresentation, but we shall invite our speakers to problematize or even subvert them.
In our panel, we shall endeavor to present a series of rigorous studies that open out into the broader and deeper issues of ancient veracity and historicity. These may include specific explorations that attempt to assess the presence of various types of misrepresentations or prevarication in a particular text or that try to encompass more widely focused examinations that investigate the dispositions of complete works, corpora, and genres. We shall, however, look everywhere for general relevance among specifics.