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The space in between: Reconsidering the distance that separates early modern fact from fiction

Posted By Kelsey Ihinger, Monday, May 1, 2017
Updated: Monday, May 29, 2017

In the era of “alternative facts” and “fake news” one may rightfully question where objectivity lies. It may seem that the distance between fact and fiction is growing increasingly blurrier in today’s world, but this is not a question relevant only in our current, rapidly-changing political climate. History as a discipline has evolved since the early modern period into a genre epitomized by its objectivity, yet according to Hayden White all historians perform a “poetic act” upon writing down the stories they plan to tell. We may consider, then, the space that exists between the literary and historical genres as a space of productive contemplation. This panel seeks papers that consider the question of separation or contact between fact and fiction in the early modern period, when histories and chronicles were written with royal patronage, when religion permeated a country’s understanding of truth, and when news came in the form of propagandistic pamphlets. In this era, can there exist a real division between fact and fiction? How does our reading of the chronicle change when considered through the lens of literary criticism rather than historiography? How do the various historical genres—historical drama, news pamphlets, chronicles—interact with their historical subject and the author’s ability to manipulate it? How does the early modern author who writes about history conceive of his own task? These are questions that this panel will explore as it seeks to open up the space that exists between history and literature in the early modern period.

 Please send a 150-word abstract and a 300-word CV to Kelsey Ihinger ( Proposals must be received by end of day on Friday, May 12. This panel will be sponsored by the Center for Early Modern Studies of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Tags:  Chronicles  Historical Drama  Historiography  Literature 

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