Of Victorian Interest

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Of Victorian Interest

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CFP: Special Issue of Victorian Popular Fictions Journal (10/19/2020)

Unintended Authors:

Piracy, Plagiarism and Property in Victorian Popular Culture

This issue takes what has generally been thought of as inadequate national and international copyright law to be an animating, even empowering, condition in Victorian popular culture: the absence of robust laws protecting original authors and copyright holders had the effect of giving voice to surprising subjects, not only the obviously disenfranchised, but also the precariously placed, from former American slaves to industrial workers to colonial subjects to Irish refugees, complicating distinctions between center and periphery, reader and writer, performer and spectator, producer and consumer, radically challenging ideas about real and figurative property ownership.

Whether we are talking about the circulation of a Penny Pickwick to British readers who could not afford a Dickens novel, or the role of unacknowledged translations during the Arabic nahda in the Ottoman Empire, or the adaptation of French melodramas on American and English stages (and vice versa), reiteration, reprinting, appropriation, theft, excerpting, anthologizing, translation, allusion, sampling provided strategies for the global circulation of entertainment in all fields: novels, plays, poems, photography, painting, advertisements, even typeface.

Welcome are submissions that explore the creative and ideological affordances of weak or nonexistent intellectual property laws: what kinds of new orders emerge in the absence of law?

Please submit an abstract (250-300 words) and a short bio by October 19, 2020 to Monica Cohen at mlf1@columbia.edu. You may submit a completed paper in lieu of an abstract.

Possible topics include but are not limited to:

  • political questions of access, Chartist, provincial and colonial newspapers
  • literary enfranchisement of former slaves, factory workers, rural laborers
  • material questions of circulation in serialization, pamphlets, local magazines
  • jurisdictional questions, colonial trade and translation
  • artistic questions of originality and legitimate reuse, adaptation and sampling
  • influence of genres hailing from the illegitimate theatre and visual culture of paintings, tableaux, photography
  • emerging entertainment markets that reconfigure center and margin

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