HC 221H: True Fictions

Professor: Brendan O'Kelly

4.00 credits

• CRN 13080: Tuesday & Thursday, 1615-1745 @ ANS 195

Ever since The Blair Witch Project (1999) was marketed as “found footage” documenting the last few days of missing—and presumably dead—film students, the horror genre has been barraged by films pretending to be discovered footage of actual events. These films have been so popular that the “found footage” style has appeared in a wide range of genres, from police procedural and science-fiction to romantic comedy. Why do contemporary humans find fiction that pretends to be real so appealing? While the “found footage” trend is ostensibly a 21st century phenomenon, fiction posing as truth is nothing new. This course will trace the development of such fiction, whether written, recorded, or filmed, from its prominence in 17th-19th century prose fiction and philosophy to documentary-styled novels, films, and radio programs that span the 20th century. We will examine the predominance of “found footage” films and digital media in the current millennium that arguably parallels the rise of reality television, YouTube, and the smart phone. We will begin and end the quarter with considerations of "fake news," from founding father Benjamin Franklin to contemporary digital media. Alongside these media forms we will read a range of theoretical investigations into the concept of "truth" and the construction of "reality" through media technologies.
This course will expose you to a wide range — in terms of time period, genre, and geography — of texts, films, and critical theory in conversation with contemporary events. It will also help you improve your written and spoken analytical skills.