Secrets and Secrecy in Revolutionary and Contemporary Eras
In revolutionary and contemporary periods, we repeatedly find the presence of secrecy. That secrecy exists in our most trusted institutions and among the closest of friends; it is used to protect people and cultures from those who might otherwise bring them harm, but it is also employed by those who might carry out unspeakable acts without being held accountable. Secrets may generally be disliked by society, but they can also represent some of our most cherished possessions. This seminar will introduce students to some of the many manifestations of secrets and secrecy in our society. This will not only include public secrets and secret publics/societies, but also proprietary secrets and trade secrets, secret juries and secret police, secret Santas and secret admirers, and much more. There is little doubt that we live in an era where demands for transparency and openness come face to face with the need for secret agents and top secret classified actions. Only by helping students to better understand secrets and secrecy as important (as well as problematic and empowering) forms of communication, may we start to address the challenges that secrecy presents us in our daily lives.