Promiscuous KnowledgeInformation, Image, and Other Truth Games in History

Promiscuous KnowledgeInformation, Image, and Other Truth Games in History

Kenneth Cmiel and John Durham Peters

Print publication date: 2020

ISBN: 9780226611853

Publisher: University of Chicago Press


Promiscuous Knowledge provides a genealogy of the information age from its early origins up to the reign of Google. It examines how we think about fact, image, and knowledge, centering on the various ways that claims to truth are complicated by being passed on to the public and by new modes of circulation, and it offers a backstory to the muddle we face today around facts and truth. Tracing the changing shape of truth from the early modern era and more especially in nineteenth and twentieth century America, the book shows, via many examples and case studies, how cultural arbiters have sought to contain both knowledge's inherent unruliness and popular resistance to their authority. The image is one of those strategies, and its breakdown from a once mythic container to a now fractious bone of contention is one of the chief developments of the past century. The internet exacerbates extant tensions in knowledge, but its troubles have a much longer history. Promiscuous Knowledge constructs a cultural and intellectual history of information, images, and conceptions of knowledge since the seventeenth century, with an emphasis on the American context since the nineteenth century.