The Director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture on the “Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists, Phonies, Post-Facts, and Fake News”
In his most recent book, which was longlisted for the National Book Award, poet and critic Kevin Young traces the history of the hoax as a peculiarly American phenomenon—the legacy of P.T. Barnum’s “humbug“ culminating with the currency of ”fake news.“ Disturbingly, Young finds that fakery is woven from stereotype and suspicion, with race being the most insidious American hoax of all. Bunk traces a lineage of American forgers, plagiarists, and frauds who have invented backstories and falsehoods to sell us lies about themselves and the world, from Barnum to pretend Native Americans Grey Owl and Nasdijj to the deadly imposture of Clark Rockefeller, from the made-up memoirs of James Frey to the identity theft of Rachel Dolezal.
Young will speak with Rebecca Carroll, Producer of Special Projects on Race for WNYC and Critic-at-Large for the Los Angeles Times, about what it means to live in a post-factual world of “truthiness”—where everything is up for interpretation and everyone is subject to a contagious cynicism that damages our ideas of reality, fact, and art.