Video and podcast: Bunk and the History of Hoaxes with Kevin Young

An MIT Communication Forum.

Before fake news dominated headlines, Kevin Young was tracking down its roots.

The author of 13 books of poetry and prose, poetry editor for The New Yorker and director of the New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Young has spent the past six years tracing the history of news-worthy fraudulence all the way back to the 18th century. Young’s latest book Bunk: The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists, Phonies, Post-Facts, and Fake News chronicles the racially prejudiced path that brought fake news to where it is to today. Longlisted for the 2017 National Book Award, Bunk dives into hoaxes big and small that permeate American history and the cultural attitudes that drive them. Young joins Carole Bell, an assistant professor of Communication Studies at Northeastern University whose research explores the connections between media and politics, for a broad-ranging discussion on the current state and political consequences of fake news. A book signing will follow.


Kevin Young is poetry editor for The New Yorker, director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture at the New York Public Library, and the author of 13 books of poetry and prose including The Grey Album: On the Blackness of Blackness, which was a New York Times Notable Book, and Jelly Roll: A Blues, which was a finalist for the National Book Award.

Carole Bell is an assistant professor of Communication Studies and affiliated faculty in Political Science at Northeastern University. Bell’s teaching and research focuses on the intersections of media, politics, public opinion and public policy, with a particular focus on issues of social identity. Her first book, The Politics of Interracial Romance in American Film, is forthcoming from Routledge.

This event is sponsored by Radius at MIT. All Communications Forum events are free and open to the general public.

Christina Couch

About Christina Couch

Christina Couch is a human interest and finance journalist who’s making the transition into science writing. Her writing credentials include work for Wired Magazine, Discover Magazine, The AV Club,, Time Out Chicago and Entrepreneur Magazine and she’s the author of a financial aid guidebook that came out in 2008, but what she’s most proud of is getting to gesture wildly and say “TODAY I INTERVIEWED THE MOST AMAZING PERSON ON EARTH!” to family and friends at least once a week. Christina has spent the last five years living as a permanent traveler and moving to a different city or country roughly every three months (thank you remote work technology). Aside from travel and space and robots (and traveling space robots), Christina’s interests include awkward dancing, indie videogames and the first three Die Hard movies. Thesis: Life After Hate: Recovering From Racism


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