Author[ity] and all that jazz

Hello, it’s me too.

We had a lot on the agenda today and we managed to fit it all in.

  • Workshop #3
  • Syllabus changes
    • for next week, we will read all of Nabokov’s “Pale Fire.” DO NOT SKIM Y’ALL.
    • the secondary reading has changed and is posted on the wiki. We will have a guest, via skype…Duncan White and we’ll be discussing his article.
    • Grad students, sorry, we still have to read BHR for next week as well.
  • digital exhibition
    • This is all posted on the wiki, but I’ll give a quick run down of what went down.
      • We have some important dates to remember.
        • so many bullet points!
          • it goes on forever…
            • April 10-brief email explaining your choice due.
            • May 1-(investigation) compilation of bibliographic info, at least 5 sources, etc.
            • May 8-we will share our projects in class, around 10 minutes
            • May 12-(by midnight) final page due on the class blog
            • APRIL 24- GRAD STUDENTS (I KNOW…) we have a 500 word research statement due for our final paper.
  • intellectual property discussion
  • Poe and Longfellow (quick time)


We had a fun discussion today; you should feel bad if you weren’t there: Part I. Workshop #3

  • What was refreshing about the discussion today was I felt a flow, where we were bouncing ideas off one another and actively trying to understand the other person’s point of view. I’m not sure if that was because it was a smaller group, but it was nice. I was partnered with Sam for the workshop and even though we had opposing views [or so it seemed] once we started discussing it, we realized they weren’t so different after all. The content was different, but the reasoning was the same.
  • Each group had something new to contribute to the conversation about authorial power and validation. Victoria thought the 1831 edition gave the text validation because there was an actual name to associate with. Someone [who’s name I did not write down, SORRY GIRL, or guy] thought the text could be read without bias in the 1818 edition and that gave it more validation. We went back to Barthes and asked: Does naming the author limit the text or give power to the text? The answer is…we aren’t quite sure yet. That’s a question they will probably be asking in 50, then 100 years. It’s easy to find compelling reasons on both sides.
  • We then talked about intertexuality vs. innertexuality and how that functions.
  • We talked about the physicality of the illustrations in the 1831 editions and cover art in contemporary times.
  • OH and apparently there’s a second edition, published in 1822.

Part II. Intellectual Property Discussion

  • Quick-write: We were given a little letter on THE book printer of Venice in 1469. Alex asked us to answer the question, What are the terms of the rights give to the printer, Johannes of Speyer? What does it suggest about a printer’s authority?
    • We spoke about where that authority is actually coming from, the printer himself or the government, or the crown. (*daunting music in the background*)
    • We also talked about him being referred to as a craftsman, and printing as an art. It is highly valued. Today, we don’t refer to printing so much as an “art.”
  • Brewer and Rose (BHR): perpetual property
    • We got into small groups and talked about what it means to “own” your writing. We were running out of time, so we didn’t get too deep into it.
    • In BHR, they talk about there no longer being one single publisher will all the power, but options for writers.
      • “many entrances and numerous routes to eventual publication” (321).
      • “demand for material exceeded supply” (321).
        • today, we have the internet for that.
  • Poe and Longfellow (real fast)
    • We had a brief chat on the conflict between these two poems. Longfellow accused Poe of plagiarizing, though I think that was unsubstantiated. Both had images of rivers and a spectator…that’s most pastoral poetry.
    • That got us to think about, can you plagiarise allegory?
    •  Poe responded to Longfellow with that letter explaining why “the whole tournure of the poem is based ion mine, as you will see at all. It’s allegorical conduct, the style of its versification and expression-all are mine.”
      • a little dramatic, but it’s Poe…
    • So, who “owns” words and who “owns” expression? And what is actual original?


Good night and Good luck.


Gossip Girl




9 thoughts on “Author[ity] and all that jazz

  1. Thanks for another detailed run-down of class, Emma. For future scribes, please don’t feel that you have to address every detail of class, especially if you are scribing with another student for the week.

    I’m especially intrigued by one comment here, Emma. Perhaps I missed this in our class discussion, but what do you mean by the distinction “intertextuality vs. innertextuality”?

    • No, I think I made that up…it made sense to me to call what was happening with the 1831 edition, “inner” textuality because it came from within Shelley’s text. On the 1818 edition, it was “inter” texuality because it came from an outside source. I know people use intertexuality to talk about what I mean when I said, inner, but in my head, it makes more sense because it’s within. I might have totally made that word up.

  2. Thanks for the Scribal Entry, Emma!
    And yes, people who weren’t in class should feel bad…
    I think you ask an interesting question about ownership. It’s certainly not an easy question to answer, but I was pleasantly surprised to find out from our in-class readings as well as our Book History Reader that this question goes as far back as the 1600s. I would also add an extra question though (inspired by Poe/Longfellow and every other two competing writers on earth) it’s not only about who the words belong to, but who the “ideas’ behind the words belong to as well…

    • Halla,

      What do you make of the claim to ownership of ideas in light of the Barthes and Foucault reading we did this semester? Moreover, how is this bound up with the phenomenon of intertextuality? We didn’t really consider it in class, but are these anxieties about ownership bound up with the increased capacity of publishers to promulgate literature – the legal documents on the printing press suggest as much. Alex’s comments about the ridiculousness of owning poetic form such as meter, rhyme, imagery and semantics suggests a similar sillyness about owning the ideas that they may or may not convey through these means.

  3. The 3rd workshop has been my favorite so far, and my partner and I, which you talked about in your post, thought that the 1831 was the more appealing edition because it actually credited Shelley for her work. We had mostly similar ideas and discussed how we came to those conclusions during the workshop period. I’m interested in your thoughts on the printer that dominated all of Venice’s printing, that discussion was very interesting because it just baffles me how one many had the power to dictate what an entire city could read and the city itself made rules to keep him in that position.

  4. From the look of things, I missed an interesting class. And indeed, I do feel bad for missing what would have been an engaging discussion, so thank you for putting up every point that was touched upon during class!

    One thing that I definitely would have loved to talk about is the question of whether or not you can plagiarize allegory. It raises additional questions, such as “What defines plagiarism?” and “What defines an allegory?” and even “Is there such a thing as originality?” I’m sure everyone has heard, at least once, someone say that there are no original ideas in drama because the Greeks did it already (and I’m guilty of saying it myself at one point, I bet). Almost like a “the Simpsons did it” of drama. Does this extend to literature? Does this extend to thought itself? I sure hope that it does not. But if it does, does it really matter whether something is completely original? I think the real question we have to ask is where the line should be drawn between inspiration and plagiarism.

  5. Thank you for the detailed class schedule! I had to miss this week so it’s great to know what we were discussing. I’ve taken classes on law before, so I’m dissapointed I had to miss a discussion on Intellectual Property.

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