January 4, 2018
The title of Lucas Wood's paper to be given today at the annual meeting of the Modern Language Association is "'All Ladies Cheat ... Sad!': Diffusing and Defusing the 'Fake News' of Courtly Adultery."
The paper examines late-12th and early-13th-century French literature about the court of King Arthur, with a focus on a fictional device: a "magical drinking horn" that led everyone to tell the truth. The truths they told involved adultery, with seemingly everyone at court sleeping with those to whom they were not married. Wood, an assistant professor of French at Texas Tech University, said he found the concept of fake news illuminated the themes and impact of these texts. Those in court needed to laugh at the fake magical horn, even while knowing that adultery was much more widespread than anyone wanted to admit in public.