Historian Matt Hayday on “Truthiness” and Canadian Politics

20 04 2011

Matt Hayday, a political historian at the University of Guelph, has posted some interesting thoughts on the Canadian election.

According to Wikipedia, which is an invaluable guide to pop culture trend (and not much use for anything else).

Truthiness is a “truth” that a person claims to know intuitively “from the gut” without regard to evidence, logic, intellectual examination, or facts.[1]

American television comedian Stephen Colbert coined the word in this meaning[2] as the subject of a segment called “The Wørd” during the pilot episode of his political satire program The Colbert Report on October 17, 2005. By using this as part of his routine, Colbert satirized the misuse of appeal to emotion and “gut feeling” as a rhetorical device in contemporaneous socio-political discourse.[3] He particularly applied it to U.S. President George W. Bush‘s nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court and the decision to invade Iraq in 2003.[4] Colbert later ascribed truthiness to other institutions and organizations, including Wikipedia.[5] Colbert has sometimes used a Dog Latin version of the term, “Veritasiness”.[6] For example, in Colbert’s “Operation Iraqi Stephen: Going Commando” the word “Veritasiness” can be seen on the banner above the eagle on the operation’s seal.

Truthiness, although a “stunt word“, was named Word of the Year for 2005 by the American Dialect Society and for 2006 by Merriam-Webster.[7][8] Linguist and OED consultant Benjamin Zimmer[2][9] pointed out that the word truthiness[10] already had a history in literature and appears in the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), as a derivation of truthy, and The Century Dictionary, both of which indicate it as rare or dialectal, and to be defined more straightforwardly as “truthfulness, faithfulness”.[2]

Historian Matt Hayday on the Vancouver Olympics and the Canadian Identity

26 11 2009

University of Guelph history professor Matt Hayday published a podcast on the Olympics and the Canadian identity crisis. The podcast is part of the Globe and Mail’s Intellectual Muscle series.

The student newspaper at the University of Guelph has published this summary of his talk:

“Because the Olympics are such an international forum, it’s a way of showing excellence on an international scale [it’s] almost like Canada breaking out of its little bubble of self-doubt, of constantly being in the American shadows… Canada seems to be having a bit of an identity crisis.  As a country that was founded as a colony for France and England, four hundred years later we appear to be having a tough time trying to figure out our national personality. After World War II, some realizations seemed to emerge for Canadians: we are not American, we need to be recognized on the international stage, and sporting heroes provide a rallying point for us to do it.”

Update: for more on the history of the winter Olympics, see here.

Canadian Political History – Making a Comeback?

18 05 2009

Matt Hayday, a historian at the University of Guelph, has spearheaded the formation of a new organization to represent Canadian political historians. The first meeting of the Canadian Political History Group will take place at the Canadian Historical Association Annual Meeting at Carleton University on Monday May 25th from 12:00-1:00 in Mackenzie (ME) 4494. The group is intended for anyone with an interest  in the many aspects of Canadian political history. The first meeting will involve the approval of a constitution, election of officers, etc.

Dr Hayday explained the rationale of the group as follows: “First, I believe that there are more people working on political history topics than many of us realize, and I would like to try to foster more of a sense of a research community for us to exchange ideas and keep each other apprised of what we are working on.  Second, I would like there to be more of a political history presence within the Canadian Historical Association.  One of the first objectives that I had in mind for such a group would be to organize political history panels for the CHA Annual conference.  Third, I believe that there is a “new” political history emerging, one which takes into account many of the new ideas and methods that have been developed in other branches of history.  I think it would be productive to have a more active discussion about where Canadian political history is heading – and to demonstrate that it still has some vitality!”

I plan to become a member of the new group. I’m looking forward to its first meeting, which will take place a week from today.