Authenticity: Reading, Remembering, Performing

Research output: Book/ReportEdited book


The pursuit of authenticity is a contemporary obsession. From hipster fixations on artisan coffee and vintage clothing through to the electoral success of supposedly unspun populist politicians like Donald Trump, a yearning for the real pervades our culture. Yet while highly prized and desired, authenticity is also profoundly elusive and contested. This volume stages a wide-ranging interdisciplinary interrogation of the concept, with case studies ranging from collective memory of the Second World War, through the historical fiction of Sarah Waters to the confessional art of Tracey Emin. With contributors drawn from memory studies, cultural history, English literature, theatre studies, and art criticism, it explores how authenticity is in play in diverse practices of reading, remembering, and performing. The chapters demonstrate that authenticity has no single stable definition, but is rather invoked in very diverse ways – both descriptively and prescriptively – in many diverse contexts. They also make clear that it is not an inherent quality but the product of orchestration, performance, and inter-subjective negotiation.

This book was originally published as a special issue of Rethinking History.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherTaylor & Francis
Number of pages198
ISBN (Print)9781138312401, 1138312401
Publication statusPublished - 25 Sept 2018


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