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Documentary Realities

Documentary Realities

This working group will examine postmodern culture's attenuation in the reliability of terms such as 'truth', 'reality', 'objectivity', and 'authenticity'.  The imperilled role of these adjectives has its counterpart in the contested status of 'the document', a designation that is increasingly problematic for humanists across a wide swath of disciplines.  With its connotation of epistemological security, 'the document' continues to serve as an assertion of--and a foil for--certain ways of knowing.  It is (uneasily) both an enduring source of authority in historical practice and a metaphor for the challenges to that authority that have shaped humanistic inquiry for the past few decades.

The Documentary Realities Working Group will reach beyond the expertise of any single field to ask wide-ranging questions, such as:

  • What qualifies as a document in each of our fields?
  • How does the status accorded to a document reflect broader assessments of contemporary culture?
  • What evidentiary capacities does a document have to offer?
  • How is the instability of the document evident in earlier historical periods, and how does this inform subsequent historiography?
  • What is the epistemic and historical relationship between the document and the event to which it refers, and how have recent technological shifts impacted these relations?
  • How do these technological shifts within modes by which we perceive the document reflect a shift also within the apperceptive awareness of an engagement with the event?

The working group will meet regularly to discuss each others' work and that of external scholars, and will also sponsor a variety of events, including guest lectures by scholars in the GTA, film screenings, and group attendance at relevant performances and exhibitions.

Leads: 

FACULTY

James Cahill, Cinema Studies and French
Barry Freeman, UTSC Humanities
Yi Gu, UTSC Humanities and Art
Joshua Pilzer, Music

GRADUATE STUDENTS

Sara Angel, Art
Cassandra Silver, Drama
Isabel Stowell-Kaplan, Drama


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