“Quand je mens, je ne dis pas nécessairement le faux et je peux dire faux sans mentir.” (Sur Parole, 1999). For Derrida, the classical distinction between truth and lies is based on intentionality. Despite the nuances that challenge the clarity of such a conception, it is, he states, one that must be maintained for fear that we destroy the very foundation of society. The stark truth/lies binary continues to underpin not only the institutional structures that form our external world but our relationships with others and, perhaps, ourselves. This conference aims to consider the historical, political and artistic roles played by ‘le mensonge’ in French culture and society of past and present. It will provide doctoral students with a platform to share current research in the field of French Studies whilst fostering and promoting interdisciplinary exchange.
Picasso stated that the work of art is “a lie that makes us see the truth”. How does this claim challenge the oppositional status of truth and lies? Does art have the power to activate revolutionary change by exposing corruption or, alternatively, can it be used by the state as a way to maintain social order? Is deceit inherent to any form of writing and if so does this challenge the claims to authenticity found in the confessional or testimonial genres? Does the camera really never lie? Can photographic or digital representation reproduce pure indexical reality or do symbolic and iconic significations always invade and thus falsify the image?
Deception is not only implicit to the individual’s relationship with the world, but also permeates the overriding structures and mechanisms that regulate society. How, then, can duplicity be considered a political strategy? Are proclamations of truth nothing more than veiled propaganda and if so to what extent is deception a political necessity? Is the attempt to write or record the past intrinsically marred by our narrativisation and, thus, falsification of real events? Can historiography ever be authentic?
Proposals of between 200-300 words (in French or English)are invited for papers of 20 minutes in length related to but not limited to the following topics:
- art as lie/art as truth
- the lie as a creative act
- the camera never lies
- the autobiographical lie
- duplicity as political strategy
- (re)writing history and the falsification of the past
- personal/collective memory and mensonge
- ‘mauvaise foi’ and self-deception
- mass media and the ethics of lying
Dr Peter Dayan (University of Edinburgh)
Dr Sylvie Lannegrand (National University of Ireland, Galway)
Dr Philippe Marlière (UCL)
The closing date for proposals is Friday April 25th 2008. Please email your proposal along with your name, institutional affiliation, PhD title and year of study to: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
Kate Averis, King's College London (firstname.lastname@example.org), Izzy Hollis (email@example.com), Myriam Heywood, University College London (firstname.lastname@example.org, Matthew Moran, University College London (email@example.com)
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