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Wesleyan University | Center for the Humanities


In the Blink of an Idea: Infinitesimal Calculus and the 18th Century Mind Poster


Right-Wing Populism and the Claims of Authenticity 


Nina Hagel • Wesleyan University

November 1 @ 6 P.M. in Daniel Family Commons

While authenticity claims have never been exclusively a strategy of the left, in more recent years, it has been much more closely associated with right-wing politics: a desire to return to an earlier, more authentic America ("make America great again"); a restrictive account of what a “real American” is; a thrill in rejecting political correctness in favor of “telling it like it is,” and appeals to the truths of one’s experience that may veer off towards conspiracy theories. Taken together, it is clear that authenticity claims do not always point in one political direction, nor do they necessarily yield the good. Do authenticity claims function differently when put in the service of progressive or conservative aims? And how might one engage authenticity claims that one finds politically undesirable, if not morally repugnant? This talk examines these questions through an investigation of contemporary right-wing authenticity claims. In examining these discourses, Nina Hagel argues that if authenticity claims are going to be used as the basis for making political claims, they must be rendered dialogical—that is, open to interpretation, assessment, and contestation. When someone says, “here I stand, I can do no other,” and asks others to change things in the world and in themselves, these others have a right to ask questions about what this means and entails—an authenticity claim ought to be the beginning, and not the end, of a political dialogue. Hagel also suggests ways of interpreting, assessing, and contesting authenticity claims that translate them from the terms of injury and trauma into more worldly, political terms

Consent & Subjection
View Fall 2021 Lecture List

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