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Wars, Whoppers and Carrots:  Fake News and its Opposite in the Early Modern Period

Speakers: Brendan Dooley (University College Cork), Wouter Kreuze (University College Cork)

When did fake news begin?  Without going back to earlier times, surely the history of early modern news is littered, or enlivened, with stories about personages who never existed or events that never occurred or at least not in the way we are told.  How do the aporia arise?  On occasion the author of such stories is not the compiler of the news item, but some other party on whom the news writer was relying at the time.  Custodians of political or even religious power were never very far from the scene.  Of course, news writing then as now was a hurried business running up against inderogable deadlines, and fakes or mistakes may even creep in by stealth.  Before (and even after) the late seventeenth century advent of the figure of the "reporter" on the spot in a given location, collecting information for his publishers, news gathering was haphazard and subject to wills, whims and whoppers.  In this panel we discuss the language of early modern fake news, through a combined corpus and microhistory approach.  Members of the EURONEWS PROJECT team present the state of research at present.

Brendan Dooley (PhD University of Chicago 1986), currently Professor of Renaissance studies at University College Cork, previously taught at Harvard, Notre Dame and Jacobs University Bremen.  He works on the histories of culture and knowledge with reference to Europe and especially to Italy and the Mediterranean world. Publications include Angelica’s Book and the World of Reading in Late Renaissance Italy (Bloomsbury, 2016), A Mattress Maker's Daughter, the Renaissance Romance of Don Giovanni de' Medici and Livia Vernazza (Harvard, 2014), The Social History of Skepticism (Johns Hopkins, 1999), and, as author/ editor, The Dissemination of News and the Emergence of Contemporaneity in Early Modern Culture (Ashgate, 2010).  He is currently PI of the EURONEWS project (funded by the Irish Research Council) concerned with the world of manuscript news.

Wouter Kreuze is a PhD candidate at University College Cork for the EURONEWS project. In his project he endeavors to develop new digital methodologies in the study of manuscript newsletters in which he regards news documents as parts in a system of information. That is why he is building an avvisi database and accompanying tools from several European collections for the period 1575-76. Through these he is able to uncover the patterns in the fabric of early modern news culture.

Seminar Programme

25 May 2023
Wars, Whoppers and Carrots:  Fake News and its Opposite in the Early Modern Period

1 June 2023
Fake News and Censorship in Maria de Zayas’ Short Stories
"Open your ears […] when loud Rumour speaks?" (Henry IV, Part 2): Shakespeare’s ‘true wrongs’ and ‘false reports’

8 June 2023
Fake News from the Bubonic Plague to the “Lado Obscuro das Vacinas”
Fighting Against Disinformation: The Linguistic Features of Spanish Pseudo-Media
F for Fake News 

All are welcome to attend this free seminar, which will be held online via Zoom at 16:00 BST. You will need to register in advance to receive the online joining link. Please click on the Book Now button at the top of the page to register.