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Lepage Center Event to Put “Fake News” in Historical Perspective

Lepage Center Event to Put “Fake News” in Historical Perspective

Villanova, Pa. – The Albert Lepage Center for History in the Public Interest at Villanova University will hold a roundtable discussion on “fake news” and “fake history” during its first-ever event on Monday, September 18 at 6:30 p.m. “Fake News and Fake History: A Crisis of Authority” will occur in the Driscoll Auditorium on Villanova’s campus. Moderated by Lepage Center director Jason Steinhauer, the event will feature:   

  • Bill Marimow, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, editor-at-large and vice president of Philadelphia Media Network, LLC, parent company of The Philadelphia Inquirer and;
  • Cristina Soriano, PhD, associate professor of Latin American history at Villanova University;
  • Jonathan Zimmerman, PhD, professor of history of education at University of Pennsylvania.

The event is free and open to the public. Doors will open at 6 p.m. RSVPs are recommended. Click here.

Fake news has dominated public conversation over the past year. Yet contemporary analyses often fall short of understanding the larger structural issues driving the creation, dissemination, and credulity of false information. Changes in politics, education, media, technology, and notions of trust and authority all play a role. Examining the historical changes over time can reveal better ways of understanding our current moment and devising solutions.

“The fake news crisis is a global issue of pressing concern,” said Steinhauer, the inaugural director of the Lepage Center, who was recently invited by the U.S. Department of State to speak in Europe on the issues of fake news and fake history. “In addition to distortions of the news, we are also seeing manipulations and falsifications of the past. Both crises demonstrate how prior notions of political, academic and media authority are shifting. Understanding those shifts will help us prepare citizens to be more media and historically literate. In the spirit of using history to make a better society, this a natural first topic for the Lepage Center to tackle.”

The panelists for the event each bring a unique perspective to the discussion. Marimow has experienced the evolution of the newsroom over a forty-year career that spans Pulitzer Prize-winning reporting to vice president for a major national newspaper. Dr. Soriano’s scholarship on Latin America includes examining the spread of false information in colonial Latin America and the role of citizens and the state in shaping the narratives around current and past events. Dr. Zimmerman is a historian of education whose recent books include “The Case for Contention: Teaching Controversial Issues in American Schools.” Zimmerman is also a member of the Lepage Center Advisory Council.

The Albert Lepage Center for History in the Public Interest is a multifaceted resource that draws upon the past to impart lessons for the modern world. Led by Steinhauer and Paul Steege, PhD, faculty director and associate professor of history, the Center engages the public through academic programs, research, publications and events, the center engages the public, policymakers, scholars, teachers and students from history and other fields—contributing to a more informed and engaged public. Among its greatest goals, the Lepage Center strives to have a visible and tangible impact on the way history is taught to future generations.