What is a forgery? How do we decide what is authentic? In this course, we will explore six instances of “pretty good” forgeries in global literature: we will consider forged objects, forged identities, forged documents, forged power, and forged histories, as well as some good old-fashioned lying. We’ll study poems and other works by forgers, interrogating their features but also celebrating their artistry, and we will use the rich collections at Yale’s libraries and museums to come into contact with ways in which forgeries survive and are preserved.
Forgery often—though not always!—seeks to deceive, and together we will explore the fact that as readers and human beings, we want to believe—but in what? For what reasons? What is the value of the authentic, and what is the value of what we know, or suspect, to be forged?