In honor of this week’s C19: The Society of Nineteenth-Century Americanists conference, we are making a selection of content from Representations and Nineteenth-Century Literature available for free for a limited time. We hope that this content will generate thought-provoking discussions and encourage you to tag comments on social media with the C19 conference hashtag  and with C19’s recommendation hashtag  

Representations invites you read its special issue on Fallacies for free online. If you are in Albuquerque at the conference, please swing by the Scholar’s Choice booth to take a look at the issue in person.

It is hard not to see that we are living in in an especially fallacious age. Fallacies appeal to our emotions, to our respect for authority, and to our faith in numbers. A president will be blamed for an economic downturn that precedes him or credited for job growth that is inconsequent to his acts. As mistakes of logic, fallacies are not lies and not exactly nonsense either, but things that, not being valid, “are susceptible of being mistaken” for valid.

In Representations’s special issue on Fallacies, eleven scholars take up a variety of ways in which, in our disciplines and critical practices, truth appears. In explaining a few of the well-known fallacies and naming others, the essays are all concerned with ways of reading that bring ideas and experiences to a subject that are not germane to the subject. They ask us to look, as I. A. Richards does, at “instances of irrelevance” in thinking, at what fits and doesn’t fit or is there by accident. They raise our awareness of those “inadequate” revelations that W. K. Wimsatt and Monroe Beardsley, in their famous essay on the intentional fallacy, tried to arm us against and exclude from critical judgment “like lumps from pudding and ‘bugs’ from machinery.”

To return to the question of fallacies in the twenty-first century is to ask what is most material to our arguments if we want them to be practical and satisfying and if, in Beardsley’s words, “we wish to get out of them what is most worth getting.”

These essays offer just such a reward.

If you are not doing so already, we encourage you to subscribe to Representations and/or recommend the journal to your institution’s librarian, and please follow the journal on Twitter at @rep_journal.

Nineteenth-Century Literature is pleased to offer you a selection of recently published articles on nineteenth-century American literature for you to read for free for a limited time.