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For the literary scholar as for the gender theorist, truth is what makes sense in terms of a particular narrative. What is true is not simply that which corresponds to the real; rather, what is true is what is accepted as being true within a given discourse, institution, or discipline. Unlike biologists, literary scholars don’t ask “Is it true?” but “How is it true?” This question requires interrogating the normative standards by which claims of truth, authenticity, and legitimacy are established. And that means learning to read people the way many of us have learned to read literature, taking into account the discursive structures, the narrative conventions, the character assignments, and the historical and social contexts within which narratives operate.




A version of this essay appears in God, Science, Sex, Gender: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Christian Ethics, edited by Patricia Beattie Jung and Aana Marie Vigen, with John Anderson, published in 2010 by University of Illinois Press. <>

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