Studio 05: This is my truth; show me yours: Post-truth, propaganda and bulls**t

Dr Jeremy Collins

"This is my truth, now show me yours" – (attributed to) Aneurin Bevan

In March 2017 three books were published on the same apparently new subject: d’Ancona, Ball (11 May 2017), and Davis (18 May 2017); the term "post truth" seemed to have come from nowhere to being described as a new "mainstay in political commentary" and announced as "word of the year" by Oxford Dictionaries. Despite the apparent novelty of the term (which is defined in part as foregrounding emotion rather than rationality in public communication), it can be linked to other earlier critical perspectives on propaganda, often derived from wartime contexts, and the notion of bulls**t discussed by Harry Frankfurt which emphasises the distinction between those with and without respect for the truth. These ideas can be applied and explored across a range of contexts in creative practice, and the studio will encourage students to consider them in relation to popular culture, political communications, film and media, promotions and marketing, art and design.

Readings and references

  • Arendt H (1972) Crises of the Republic: Lying in Politics; Civil Disobedience; On Violence; Thoughts on Politics and Revolution. 1 edition. Mariner Books.
  • Ball J (2017) Post-Truth: How Bullshit Conquered the World. Biteback Publishing.
  • Beckett C (2017) ‘Post-truth’: a myth created by journalists? Polis. (Accessed 7 July 2017).
  • d’Ancona M (2017) Post-Truth: The New War on Truth and How to Fight Back. 01 edition. Ebury Digital.
  • Davis C (2017) Post-Truth by Evan Davis; Post-Truth by Matthew d’Ancona; Post-Truth by James Ball. (Accessed 7 July 2017).
  • Davis E (2017) Post-Truth: Why We Have Reached Peak Bullshit and What We Can Do About It. Little, Brown Book Group.
  • Frankfurt HG (2005) On Bullshit. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
  • John Corner (2017) Fake news, post-truth and media–political change. Media, Culture & Society 39(7): 1100–1107.
  • Jowett G and O’Donnell V (2015) Propaganda & Persuasion. 6th ed. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Publications.
  • McIntyre L (2018) Post-Truth. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
  • O’Shaughnessy NJ (2004) Politics and propaganda: weapons of mass seduction. Manchester: Manchester University Press.
  • Rabin-Havt AR (2016) Lies, Incorporated: The World of Post-Truth Politics. New York: Anchor Books.


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Image: Dominic Cummings Covid-19 meme circulating on Twitter. Banner: Hans Op de Beeck, Staging Silence (3), video still (detail), 2019

Meme about the government handling of the coronavirus

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Tutor Jeremy Collins

Dissertation Studios 2020–21

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