PHIL 303: Authenticity
Wellesley College | Fall 2018 |


Fakes, forgeries, copies, knockoffs, imposters, posers, carpetbaggers, phonies: we have so many words for people and things that we judge to be inauthentic. But what exactly is authenticity? What, if anything, is valuable about it? In this course, we will explore the concept of authenticity as it surfaces in art, nature, food, culture, love, politics, history, and experience in an attempt to determine what is at stake in being the real deal.

1. September 5th

Lisa Heldke, "Two Concepts of Authenticity"
2. September 12th
The Authentic Object 1: Copies and Covers

Karen Gover, "Are All Multiples the Same? The Problematic Nature of the Limited Edition"
Matt Strohl, "On Culinary Authenticity"
Barry Lam, HiPhi Nation podcast, "Cover me Softly"

Byung-Chul Han, "The Copy is the Original"
3. September 19th
The Authentic Object 2: Fakes and Forgeries

Dennis Dutton, "Artistic Crimes"
Sherri Irvin, "Forgery and the Corruption of Aesthetic Understanding"
Peter Martin Jaworski, "In Defense of Fakes and Artistic Treason"
4. September 26th
The Authentic Object 3: Historical Authenticity

Carolyn Korsmeyer, "Touch and the Experience of the Genuine"
Shannon Lee Dawdy, "The Antique Fetishโ€ in Patina: A Profane Archaeology
Sian Jones, "Negotiating Authentic Objects and Authentic Selves"
5. October 3rd
The Authentic Object 4: Nature

William Cronon, โ€œThe Trouble with Wilderness; or Getting Back to the Wrong Natureโ€
Thom van Dooren, "Authentic Crows: Identity, Captivity and Emergent Forms of Life"
6. October 10th
The Authentic Self 1: Existentialist Roots

"Authenticity," section 3.2. "Sartre and de Beauvoir" in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Jean Paul Sartre, "Existentialism is a Humanism"
Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex, Introduction and "The Independent Woman"
7. October 17th
The Authentic Self 2: Posers and Sheep

Jerrold Levinson, "Artistic Worth and Personal Taste"
Nick Riggle, "On the Aesthetic Ideal"
Madeleine Ransom โ€œFrauds, Posers, and Sheep: A Virtue Theoretic Solution to the Acquaintance Debateโ€
8. October 24th
The Authentic Self 3: Sincerity, Sellouts, and the Curated Self

Lauren Bialystok, "Refuting Polonius: Sincerity, Authenticity, and 'Schtick'"
Jay Owens, "The Age of Post-Authenticity and the Ironic Truths of Meme Culture"
Toby Shorin, "After Authenticity"
Alex King and Thi Nguyen, "What's Wrong with Rebranding?"
9. October 31st
The Authentic Self 4: Race, Culture, and Identity

Paul C. Taylor, "Roots and Routes: Disarming Authenticity" in Black is Beautiful
Emily S. Lee, "The Ambiguous Practices of the Inauthentic Asian-American Woman"
Jennifer M. Morton, "Cultural Code-Switching: Straddling the Achievement Gap"
10. November 7th
The Authentic Self 5: Passing

Adrian Piper, "Passing for White, Passing for Black"
Daniel Silvermint, "Passing as Privileged"
11. November 14th
The Authentic Self 6: Love and Autonomy

Harry Frankfurt, "Autonomy, Necessity, and Love"
Monique Wonderly, "Love and Attachment"
Marina Oshana, "Autonomy and the Question of Authenticity"