Media, genre, and historicity [Accepted | Rescheduled ]

Claire Ahn & Ernesto Peña

Paper accepted to The International Network for Theory of History (INTH) conference, in coauthorship with Dr. Claire Ahn. Due to the Covid 19 pandemic, the event itself has been rescheduled to 2021. The abstract of this paper is presented here:

The current political environment of English-speaking North America has reignited a skepticism towards different forms of media. A skepticism that although not new, is often perceived and represented as unprecedented. This phenomenon has led to a general call to action aimed at researchers, educators, corporations and governments to address the problem of deceptive media (Bellemere, 2019; Gold, 2019). Some of these calls stress the fact that current mediatic developments have put the historicity of certain events and characters at risk by calling their authenticity into question, leading to what the title of a conference organized by the Wilson Institute for Canadian History at McMaster University taken place this year seems to suggest: “Doing History in Precarious Times” (L.R. Wilson Institute for Canadian History, n.d.). By putting media as infrastructure in the middle of the discussion, most of the solutions provided by those who have taken to themselves addressing this challenge, consist of fixing what they perceive is broken in such infrastructure. 

In this talk, instead of focusing on the current media landscape, we would like to invite participants to step away from the vehicle of delivery and to consider the relationship between genre and perception of historicity, particularly in non-linguistic modes. We will discuss how certain genres tend to have greater currency than others when it comes to the reception of visual and aural artifacts depending on how and when those genres stabilized (Schryer, 1994), and how the stabilization of such genres in our collective memory scaffolds the credibility of other events, past and future. We will also discuss the importance of keeping a record not only of the artifacts but the genres associated with them because, as we will also discuss, media deception is never unidirectional, it is a dialogical relationship with historical dimensions.


Bellemere, A. (2019, July 5). The real “fake news”: How to spot misinformation and disinformation online | CBC News. Retrieved July 14, 2019, from CBC website:

Gold, H. (2019, July 4). Researchers have created a “vaccine” for fake news. It’s a game. Retrieved July 14, 2019, from CNN website:

L.R. Wilson Institute for Canadian History. (n.d.). Doing History in Precarious Times. Retrieved July 14, 2019, from McMaster University Faculty of Humanities website:

Schryer, C. (1994). The lab vs. the clinic: Sites of competing genres. In A. Freedman & P. Medway (Eds.), Genre and the new rhetoric (pp. 105 – 124). London: Taylor & Francis.