Introduction: Post-truth and the Mediation of Reality

  • Rosemary OverellEmail author
  • Brett Nicholls


Our contemporary moment is fixated on arbitrating and articulating ‘reality’. With the spectre of buzzwords like ‘fake news’ and ‘post-truth’ we find a scramble to locate or fix some sort of universal, immovable ‘real’ beneath what are positioned as ‘fake’ articulations and discourse. In this context, it seems as though modern rationality has been dangerously discarded and replaced by a strange form of powerful irrationality, in which it is difficult to distinguish the illusory from the real. Often the arbitration of reality is placed in the hands of the media as well as academics. To be literate and savvy is to be able to ascertain the real from the fake. Nonetheless, media and, again, academia (particularly through the so-called ‘postmodern turn’), are simultaneously blamed as producing the apparent crisis of realness. To engage with this crisis, this collection proposes the need for a new conjuncture in communication and cultural studies of media. Building on Stuart Hall’s understanding of ‘conjuncture’ (1978, 1988, 2010) as a way of grasping moments within hegemonic struggle we suggest that—with the ascent of social media as a key site for the enactment of increasingly embodied politics—the current moment requires a revitalization of the concept of conjuncture. In particular, this collection confronts questions of how to grapple with mediated politics (Twitter, Facebook, television, etc.) in what has been dubbed a ‘post-truth’ era. Post-Truth and the Mediation of Reality grapples with a conjunctural approach through a broad-fronted engagement with multiple sites of mediations of reality. It considers constructions of reality in terms of discursive representation in popular media, but also how realness (that thing we seemed to have misplaced in the context of ‘post-truth’) works as a site for an affective fantasy for bearable, cognisant spaces and sites in which the election of Trump, the encroaching disaster of climate change, the ongoing revelations around #NotAllMen, and other sites in which it becomes an issue. It is divided into three sections: ‘Location’, ‘Crisis’ and ‘Symptom’.


Fake news Post-truth Conjuncture Cultural studies Media studies 


  1. Alderson, A. (2016). Rio Olympics 2016: Why Usain Bolt Has to Win the 200m. New Zealand Herald. Accessed 1 October 2017. Available from
  2. Althusser, L. (2014 [1970]). On the Reproduction of Ideology: Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses (G. M. Goshgarian, Trans.). London: Verso.Google Scholar
  3. Anderson, K. (2017, September). How America Lost Its Mind? The Atlantic. Available from Accessed 1 October 2017.
  4. Anderson, C. (2017, April 25). Everything You Need to Know About Donald Trump’s Fake Tan. The Irish Examiner. Available from Accessed 14 June 2018.
  5. Briziarelli, M., & Guillem, S. M. (2016). Reviving Gramsci: Crisis, Communication, and Change. New York: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Burnett, M. (2004–2017). The Apprentice (Television programme). Mark Burnett Productions.Google Scholar
  7. Chen, K.-S., & Morley, D. (1996). Stuart Hall: Critical Dialogues in Cultural Studies. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  8. Cilliza, C. (2018, June 13). Donald Trump’s Fake-It-Til-You-Make-It Strategy on North Korea. CNN. Available from Accessed 14 June 2018.
  9. Evans, R. J. [@RichardEvans36]. (2017, January 24). If I Am Wrong, and Postmodernist Disbelief in Truth Didn’t Lead to Our Post-truth Age, Then How Do We Explain the Current Disdain for Facts? [Tweet]. Available from Accessed 20 September 2017.
  10. Fletcher, D. (2016). Eddie the Eagle [Motion picture]. 20th Century Fox.Google Scholar
  11. Gramsci, A. (2011 [1926–1937]). Prison Notebooks (J. A. Buttigeig & A. Callari, Eds. & Trans.). New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  12. Grayson, D., & Little, B. (2017). Conjunctural Analysis and the Crisis of Ideas. Soundings, 65, 59–75.Google Scholar
  13. Grossberg, L. (2010). Cultural Studies in the Future Tense. Durham: Duke University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Hall, S. (1981). In Defence of Theory. In R. Samuel (Ed.), People’s History and Socialist Theory (pp. 378–385). London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.Google Scholar
  15. Hall, S. (1988). The Hard Road to Renewal: Thatcherism and the Crisis of the Left. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  16. Hall, S. (2017). Selected Political Writings: The Great Moving Right Show and Other Essays (S. Davison, D. Featherstone, M. Rustin, & B. Schwarz, Eds.). Durham, NC: Duke University Press.Google Scholar
  17. Hall, S., & Jacques, M. (Eds.). (1983). The Politics of Thatcherism. London: Lawrence and Wishart.Google Scholar
  18. Hall, S., & Massey, D. (2010). Interpreting the Crisis. Soundings, 44, 57–71.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Hall, S., Critcher C., Jefferson, T., Clarke J., & Roberts, B. (1978). Policing the Crisis: Mugging, the State and Law and Order. London: Macmillan. Google Scholar
  20. Hamilton, R. (2018, April 5). Is Donald Trump’s Hair Real or Fake? The Daily Mail. Available at Accessed 14 June 2018.
  21. Mabey, R. (Ed.). (1966). Class and the Mass Media. In Class: A Symposium (pp. 93–114). London: Blond.Google Scholar
  22. Nicholls, B. (2016). Baudrillard in a ‘Post-truth’ World: Groundwork for a Critique of the Rise of Trump. MEDIANZ, 16(2), 6–30. Retrieved from
  23. Tertrais, B. [@BrunoTertrais]. (2017, April 3). How Postmodernism and French Intellectuals Paved the Way for “Post-truth” and “Alt-Facts” [Tweet]. Available at Accessed 4 April 2017.
  24. Turtletaub, J. 1993. Cool Runnings [Motion picture]. Buena Vista Pictures.Google Scholar
  25. Tyson, N. [@neiltyson]. (2017, January 24). I Dream of a World Where the Truth Is What Shapes People’s Politics, Rather Than Politics Shaping What People Think Is True [Tweet]. Available at Accessed 3 April 2017.
  26. Wayne, M. (2003). Marxism and Media Studies. London: Pluto Press.Google Scholar
  27. Williams, R. (1978). Marxism and Literature. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of OtagoDunedinNew Zealand

Personalised recommendations