The Flamboyant Fake: Joep Leerssen - Patriotic Fakes
4th Online Expert Talk in the Flamboyant Fake series with Professor Joep Leerssen - "Patriotic Fakes"
Why are the most memorable stories about the past so often untrue? Fact and fiction are not easily told apart, and when we imagine history our best guides are often novelists like Tolstoy or Jane Austen.
But some things we are told about the past are deliberate forgeries, planted misinformation. Ancient epics sensationally “discovered” after centuries of oblivion often turn out to be modern-day fakes.
Literary forgeries have a long history with many startling cases – almost like detective movies. There is an ongoing cat-and-mouse game between historians – the investigators carefully tracking down the evidence – and the forgers, whose attempts at tricking the public are creative, clever and often plain silly.
Joep Leerssen will take us into the murky underworld of counterfeit history, fake epics, and forged manuscripts. A series of startling escapades in the dusty back rooms of deserted libraries, which in the end make us wonder... why we are so very eager to re-make the past? And what, finally, is the relationship between the past as it was and the past as we imagine it?
Joep Leerssen (Leiden, 1955) studied Comparative Literature in Germany, Ireland and Canada and has been professor of European Studies at the University of Amsterdam since 1991. He also holds a part-time research professorship at Maastricht University, and in the past has held visiting appointments at Harvard, Cambridge (Magdalene College), Göttingen, and the Ecole normale supérieure in Paris.
His work concerns the interaction between nationalist ideologies and the literary and historical imagination. He has published on Irish (self-)stereotyping and identity history (Mere Irish & Fíor-Ghael, 2nd ed. 1996; Remembrance and Imagination, 1996; Parnell and his Times (ed.), 2020); on the comparative cultural history of national movements in Europe (National Thought in Europe, 3rd ed. 2018; Encyclopedia of Romantic Nationalism in Europe (ed.), 2018); and on the history of the philologies and human sciences (De bronnen van het vaderland, 3rd ed. 2015; Comparative Literature in Britain, 2019).
Leerssen, whose work has been honoured with the Spinoza Prize and the Madame de Staël Award for European values, is a leading authority in historical nationalism studies and in imagology, the theory and critical analysis of cultural and national stereotyping. He is married to the Irish literary scholar Ann Rigney, with whom he co-edited the collection Commemorating Writers in Nineteenth-Century Europe: Nation-Building and Centenary Fever (2014).