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Lies in Literature and Politics

ENGL 359.301
instructor(s):
fulfills requirements:
Sector 6: 20th Century Literature of the Standard Major
Elective Seminar of the Standard Major

We will examine a common yet paradoxical phenomenon, lying. We lie quite often but hate liars and detest being lied to. This is true in everyday life as in relationships and politics. We know that most politicians lie, but if they are caught this may be the end of a career. In order to interpret such a broad phenomenon, we will go back to the old paradox: I am lying, but I tell the truth when I say that I am lying. Our readings will range from American politics to recent scandals via films, philosophers' theories and fiction, in an effort to grasp the logic of the lie so as to sketch what might be called an Ethic of lying beyond cynicism, that is an ethics which entails a new “critique of cynical reason.”