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By Susan Stewart

From the origins of recent copyright in early eighteenth-century tradition to the efforts to symbolize nature and dying in postmodern fiction, this pioneering ebook explores a sequence of difficulties concerning the containment of illustration. Stewart makes a speciality of particular circumstances of "crimes of writing"--the forgeries of George Psalmanazar, the construction of "fakelore," the "ballad scandals" of the eighteenth and 19th centuries, the imposture of Thomas Chatterton, and modern laws concerning graffiti and pornography. during this approach, she emphasizes the problems which come up as soon as language is visible as a question of estate and authorship is considered as an issue of originality. ultimately, Stewart demonstrates that crimes of writing are delineated via the legislation simply because they in particular undermine the prestige of the legislations itself: the crimes remove darkness from the irreducible undeniable fact that legislations is written and accordingly topic to temporality and interpretation.

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Extra info for Crimes of Writing: Problems in the Containment of Representation

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Copyright resides in particulars both substantial (quantities) and material (qualities) and is dependent therefore not upon abstraction, but upon the rhetoric of an argument of similarity and a history of accessibility between textual practices/" Furthermore, copyright shifts historically with changes in the notion of the law itself. What is the function of the law? What is the function of writing? Between the seventeenth and late eighteenth centuries, radical shifts in the answers to these questions are signals of changing perceptions of speech, writing, and individuality.

The history of the notion of copyright—because it establishes often contradictory ideas of speech, action, authorship, and property—gives us a vehicle for understanding the social process of negotiating authorial subjectivity, of establishing a boundary between the subjective and the social. All the differences and identities characterizing this boundary thus become an exercise for the establishment of social meaning and the grounds for an intersubjectivity underlying the articulation of individuality and originality.

The most obvious method was the generation of more discursiveness: the author must incorporate these grounds by writing them. Here we find the problem of the constantly self-inventing grounds of nostalgia, the already fallen status of a desire for a point of origin that is "merely" the product of that desire and not its originating cause. Here too we find the relentless discursiveness of a history that must constantly authenticate its own foundations of intelligibility by the generation of more history, more contexts.

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