From Truthiness to Post-Truth: Trumpiness and its Casualties, or, bye-bye to post-Enlightenment affect studies…

Many of us are struggling to make sense of the changing relationship of news media, collective emotions, public crisis of trust, and information warfare in this era of Trumpiness.  My new research brings together the studies I have pursued throughout my career. In this frightening historical and political moment, I am working hard to bring together my inquiries into emotion, truthiness, and growing crisis of American trust in media since after 9/11, to provide an ontological account of how and when truths are produced, as an alternative to epistemological accounts. In outlining an ontological account of truth, I will be working to show how we can understand truth not as “content” but truth as an event, how truth happens.  We can now speak of the “Likelihood of Truth,” the conditions in which truths are produced, taken up.

Ironically, for those who have joined the affect theory bandwagon, excited to see emotion and affect finally given a palce on the Enlightenment stage: hold your seat.  Already we are seeing invocations of “reason,” “Enlightenment,” etc. as ways to bring back Truth.  Or, as the New York Times reifies in its recent ad, “The Truth” is making a return–arguably, for all the right reasons in an era of Trumpiness. But the progress made since the 1980s by scholars working to show how truths are produced, will now face a backlash not only from committed positivists, but from liberal and even potentially radical left sources seeking to reinstitute common truths to shore up against Trump and company.


Meanwhile, I want to highlight the work I’ve done that speaks to the zeitgeist and  history of the evolution of truthiness from the Bush Administration years to the present.  It is a mistake to consider “post-truth” a new phenomenon; as Colbert recently told us, “‘post-truth’ is just a rip off of ‘truthiness’.”

Follow me on Twitter as I am striving to note key analyses related to questions of the evolution of truthiness as we make sense of the contemporary crises of trust in credible sources and truthtelling within contexts of liberal democracies.

Here are some of my previous essays that provide backdrop to the current debates regarding “post-truth”:

“The Daily Show, Crossfire, and the Will to Truth,” Scan Journal of Media Arts Culture. Vol. 3, no. 1 (2006)

The Transmission of Political Critique after 9/11: “A New Form of Desperation”? M/C Journal 9.1 (2006)

Digital Media and Democracy: Tactics in Hard Times, M. Boler (2008) (Introduction, Megan Boler)

The Daily Show and Crossfire: Satire and Sincerity as Truth to Power (Chapter 17) (from Digital Media and Democracy, ed Boler, MIT Press 2008)

Boler, M and S. Nemorin. “Dissent, Truthiness, and Skepticism in the Global Media Landscape: twenty-first century propaganda in times of war,” in Oxford University Handbook of Propaganda, eds. R Castronovo and J Auerbach. (2013)

By Ian Reilly and Megan Boler

Hot Off the Press:

Boler, Megan. “Feminist Politics of Emotions and Critical Digital Pedagogies: A Call to Action.” PMLA: Publications of the Modern Language Association of America 130.5 (2015): 1489 – 1496. DOI:10.1632/pmla.2015.130.5.1489

Boler, Megan. “Motivations of alternative media producers: Digital dissent in action.” The Routledge companion to alternative and community media. Ed. Chris Atton. Routledge, 2015.

Recent publications from Professor Boler’s SSHRC-funded Research Project, “Social Media in the Hands of Young Citizens.” (2010-2014)

Boler, Megan, and Jennie Phillips. “FCJ-197 Entanglements with Media and Technologies in the Occupy Movement.” The Fibreculture Journal 26 2015: Entanglements–Activism and Technology. Eds. Pip Shea, Jean Burgess, and Tanya Notley (2015).

Boler, Megan, and Christina Nitsou. “Women Activists of Occupy Wall Street: Consciousness-Raising and Connective Action in Hybrid Social Movements.Cyberactivism on the Participatory Web. Routledge, 2014.

Boler, Megan, et al. “Connective labor and social media Women’s roles in the ‘leaderless’ Occupy movement.” Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies 20.4 (2014): 438-460.


Boler, Megan. “From Existentialism to Virtuality.” Leaders in Philosophy of Education. SensePublishers, 2014. 31-48.

Reilly, Ian, and Megan Boler. “The Rally to Restore Sanity, prepoliticization, and the future of politics.” Communication, Culture & Critique 7.4 (2014): 435-452.

Boler, Megan and Selena Nemorin. “Dissent, Truthiness, and Skepticism in the Global Media Landscape: twenty-first century propaganda in times of war.”  Oxford University Handbook of Propaganda. Eds. Jonathan Auerbach and Russ Castronovo. Oxford University Press, 2014.

“DIY Citizenship: Critical Making and Social Media” (MIT Press, 2014)

The publication of our edited collection from MIT Press DIY Citizenship: Critical Making and Social Media convened a book launch in March at USC in Los Angeles, hosted by Henry Jenkins Kjerstin Thorson and Mike Ananny from University of Southern California Civic Paths Research Group.

The book then sparked a one-day symposium for the UK book launch of DIY Citizenship, convened by Mandy Rose and Amy Spencer, hosted by UWE Bristol’s Digital Cultures Research Centre at the Pervasive Media Studio, Watershed, Bristol.

Here is Parts 1 and 2 of Henry Jenkins blog interview of Boler and Ratto on DIY Citizenship…

2014 publications, hot off the press!

Just out: 2nd Edition of Martha McCaughey’s groundbreaking book for “Routledge Studies in New Media and Cyberculture.”  I am so pleased that Christina Nitsou and I were able to contribute a chapter!

Other forthcoming and recent publications:

Boler, M. and Christina Nitsou, Women Activists within the Leaderless Occupy Wall Street: Consciousness-Raising and Connective Action in Hybrid Social Movements, in McCaughey, M.(ed), Cyberactivism (second edition) NY: Routledge (2014).

Reilly, Ian and Megan Boler. “Satire and Social Change: The Rally to Restore Sanity and the Future of Politics,” Communication, Culture and Critique (forthcoming 2014)

Boler, Megan and Selena Nemorin. “21st Century Propaganda: the Shifting Landscape of News,” in Oxford University Handbook of Propaganda, eds R Castronovo and J Auerbach. (2013)

On the road…

Busy time upcoming of travel and talks on recent research.  Heading this week to London as one of the invited keynotes for Social Media, the fourth international Transforming Audiences conference 

In September, myself and two members of our Research Team (Averie Macdonald and Christina Nitsou) presenting at Social Media conference at Dalhousie University in Halifax.

In October, I am presenting at the World Social Science Forum in Montreal.

On October 31 I will be delivering the invited Kneller Lecture at the American Educational Studies Association October 31 in Baltimore.

Then flying to Monash University in Melbourne as invited Visiting Scholar for month of November!

Plus exciting news: Our DIY Citizenship edited book is forthcoming in January, huzzah!

Megan Boler speaking at Osgoode Law School

Saturday May 11, Plenary Roundtable: Gender and Censorship
11.00 am – 12.15 pm Oakham Lounge

Osgoode Law School Annual Conference, University of Toronto
Moderator: Savitri Gordian, LLM Candidate, Osgoode Hall Law School

  • Professor Lisa Taylor, Ryerson University
  • Professor Megan Boler, University of Toronto
  • Professor Lynda Lange, University of Toronto

and if you’re in San Francisco

…come on down to the American Educational Research Associate conference (some 30,000 intl attendees!) and catch PI Dr Megan Boler discussing our SMRT research team’s preliminary findings on a panel titled “DIY Media & Youth Engagement.”

WHEN: Saturday April 27 at 2:15 pm. WHERE: Building/Room: Grand Hyatt, Ballroom Level – Grand Ballroom West

Dr. Boler’s talk,”From Apathy to Occupy Wall Street to 4th Wave Feminism: Youth Practices of Social Media and Participatory Democracy” will discuss new findings from our 20 interviews with women activists from the west and east coasts.  Our research questions include: How are social media shaping new, hybrid (on and offline) social movements? How is “horizontalism” as an organizational structure effecting the successes and challenges of movements such as Occupy Wall Street? What are the gender dynamics and women’s roles in Occupy movement? She will presenting alongside wonderful colleagues:

From Apathy to Occupy Wall Street to 4th Wave Feminism: Youth Practices of Social Media and Participatory Democracy

Megan Boler (University of Toronto)

Mirror Images: Avatar Aesthetics and Self-Representation in Digital Games

Suzanne de Castell (University of Ontario Institute of Technology)

Raising the Bar on “Voice” in a Troubled Community: Student Media Projects

Jennifer Jenson (York University)

DIY (Do It Yourself) Beyond the Screen: Creative, Critical, and Connected Making With E-Textiles

Yasmin B. Kafai (University of Pennsylvania)Kylie A. Peppler (Indiana University – Bloomington)

Embodied Semiosis: Autistic “Stimming” as Sensory Praxis

Jason D. Nolan (Ryerson University)Melanie C McBride (York University)

**This panel talk delivered by PI Dr Megan Boler comes Thanks to the superb and engaged collaborative work of the fabulous 2012-13 SMRT team of graduate researchers!