American Literature and the Culture of Reprinting, 1834-53. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2003; paperback, 2007.
The antebellum period has long been identified with the belated emergence of a truly national literature. And yet, a mass market for books in this period was built and sustained through what we would call rampant literary piracy. I contend in this book that a national literature developed in the U.S. not despite but because of the systematic copying of foreign works. Restoring a political dimension to accounts of the economic grounds of antebellum literature, I unfold the legal arguments and political struggles that produced an American “culture of reprinting” and held it in place for two crucial decades.
In this culture of reprinting, the circulation of print outstripped authorial and editorial control. I examine the workings of literary culture within this market, shifting my gaze from first and authorized editions to reprints and piracies, from the form of the book to the intersection of book and periodical publishing, and from a national literature to an internally divided and transatlantic literary marketplace. Through readings of the work of Dickens, Poe, and Hawthorne, I seek both to analyze how changes in the conditions of publication influenced literary form and to measure what was lost as literary markets became centralized and literary culture became stratified in the early 1850s. American Literature and the Culture of Reprinting, 1834-1853 delineates a distinctive literary culture that was regional in articulation and transnational in scope, while questioning the grounds of the startlingly recent but nonetheless powerful equation of the national interest with the extension of authors’ rights.
Editor, The Traffic in Poems: Nineteenth-Century Poetry and Transatlantic Exchange, New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2008.
The transatlantic crossing of people and goods shaped nineteenth-century poetry in surprising ways that cannot be fully understood through the study of separate national literary traditions. American and British poetic cultures were bound by fascination, envy, influence, rivalry, recognition, and piracy, as well as by mutual fantasies about and competition over the Caribbean.
Drawing on examples such as Felicia Hemans’s elaboration of the foundational American myth of Plymouth Rock, Emma Lazarus’s ambivalent welcome of Europe’s cast-off populations, black abolitionist Mary Webb’s European performances of Hiawatha, and American reprints of Robert Browning and George Meredith, the eleven essays in this book focus on poetic depictions of exile, slavery, immigration, and citizenship and explore the often asymmetrical traffic between British and American poetic cultures.
Editor, Taking Liberties with the Author: Selected Essays from the English Institute, 2013.
The third born-digital installment in the English Institute’s series of publications, this volume comprises selected papers from the 2010 conference, “Author,” held at Harvard University. The volume features five essays, in addition to the editor’s introduction, exploring the place of the author in literary discourse. Ranging from an analysis of authorial disavowal in ancient and medieval rhetorical traditions to an account of corporate authorship as articulated in the Disney-Pixar merger, the essays in this volume explore the persistence of the figure of the author as a shaping force in literary criticism.
Taking Liberties with the Author has recently been made “Open Access” by the English Institute and the ACLS Humanities ebook collection. You can access the volume directly through the ACLS web site.