January 25, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Conference Date: 31st May 2012; Call for Papers deadline: 26th March 2012
This second annual symposium of the University of York Centre for Modern Studies Post-Graduate Forum will focus on the theme of ‘Authenticity’: The signs of authenticity pervade our everyday interactions with the world, from the authentic takeaway to the historical television re-enactment and the claimed impartiality of the commercial press. In response to the British riots in the summer of 2011, Tudor historian David Starkey made the distinction between the authentic and inauthentic citizenry. Those who partook in looting and affray were figured as outside authentic structures of legal and moral behaviour, ‘feral’ even. The insidious and barely concealed attribution of inauthenticity to what in London was a predominantly black community set off racial tension that for many years now has been thought of as behind us. Authenticity, then, had become the buzzword in the reenlivened discourses of politics, race, class and culture.
Through this interdisciplinary conference, the Centre for Modern Studies Post-Graduate Forum seeks to explore and question the associations and assumptions that have come to coalesce around the concept of the ‘authentic’. From the art historian Hal Foster’s charting of the ‘Return of the Real’, through its philosophical instantiations in Marx, Sartre, Heidegger, Keirkegaard and Adorno, by way of the pop/mass culture debate in Cultural Studies, to the notion of performative ‘masquerade’ in theories of gender and sexuality – issues of authenticity thread through much recent work in the humanities and the social sciences. For example, the Victoria and Albert Museum’s recent exhibition on postmodernism aims to historicise a discourse famous for its slippery employment of replication, reproduction and rearrangement into a compartment of the authentic academic canon.