Call for Papers: “Faking It: Forgery and Problems of Authenticity”

A History of the Book Working Group Conference, UC Berkeley

Saturday, February 22, 2014


Keynote Speaker: Nick Wilding (Georgia State University)


This conference will explore the problems and potential of the fake from antiquity to the present. With an attentiveness especially to material texts and objects, the conference will consider how falseness and inauthenticity threaten our sense of reality – historical, material, theological, racial, sexual, national, linguistic – while at the same time informing it. As we increasingly come to understand selfhood and identity as social constructions and performances, what remains at stake in distinguishing between the real and the false? What connections might we draw between the social construction of selves and the material construction of documents? What do forgeries and fakes tell us about our reliance on objects, our quest for certainty, and our relationship to the past? How have the notions of inauthenticity, falseness, and counterfeiting changed throughout history, and how do they differ across cultures? What role does technology, modern and pre-modern, play in enabling, complicating, and preventing the production of fakes?


The scope of the conference will be interdisciplinary, and we welcome papers from a wide range of academic fields (literature, history, sociology, history of science, philosophy, information science, media studies, linguistics, art history, etc.), spanning all time periods and all linguistic/national traditions.


Keywords: Authenticity, Forgery, Counterfeit, Antiquity, Antiquarianism, Collecting, Manuscripts, Philology, Anachronism, Imitation, Reconstruction, Restoration, Impostors, Plagiarism, Intellectual Property, Piracy, Artifice, Performance


Submit 300-word abstracts for 15-20 minute papers to by Tuesday, October 1, 2013.