The Lies That Bind: Lying and Attachment in Early Modernity


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships


Comparative Literature


“The Lie That Binds” undertakes an alternative history of the lie from early modernity to Enlightenment. This project examines how lying, and particularly the inability to lie, undergirds and animates narratives of origin and their figures in texts literary, political, and philosophical from Montaigne to Kant. Studying the treatment of truth and lie in a period known for casuistry, equivocation, and dissimulation—as well as the birth of objectivity—this project develops a genealogy of early modernity’s founding fictions; it argues, in turn, that the inability to lie, incarnated in the figure who cannot lie, both exposes a discourse of truth and lie sustaining foundational myths of the period and unmasks the changing stakes of the social fictions they issue and legitimize.