This chapter traces the transnational history of sincerity rhetoric, with particular emphasis on those traditions within older debates that inform and shape today's sincerity concerns. Linking Henri Peyre and Lionel Trilling's classical studies to recent research into sincerity rhetoric, the chapter considers discursive historical threads that prevail in contemporary readings of the term especially (although not only) in Russia. It explores the historical roots of the three thematic interconnections that dominate contemporary sincerity talk: sincerity and memory, sincerity and commodification, and sincerity and media. It also discusses the notion that contemporary views of sincerity are sociopolitically defined, skeptical by default, and media specific; how idiosyncratic they are for post-Soviet Russia; and how post-Soviet takes on sincerity use and revise historical and non-Russian readings of sincerity. Finally, it describes how sincerity emerged as a concern for cultural critics in mid-twentieth-century Western Europe and the United States, especially after World War II.
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