In the late 1960’s, the author was declared a non-issue in literary circles. Indeed, some critics referred to the “Death of the Author” (Roland Barthes, 1967) or posed the author as question mark (“What Is an Author,” Michel Foucault, 1969) in an attempt to shift the emphasis in interpretation from the work to the text and to (inter) textuality. In the resulting theoretical and critical perspective, the authorial role, figure, voice and authority were to a great extent obliterated or at least temporarily silenced.
But the author has proven to be a fairly stubborn entity, rumors of whose death are greatly exaggerated. The last ten years in particular have witnessed what might usefully be called a resurrection of the author. Increased interest in autobiography and life writing, especially by voices hitherto marginalized, bear witness to this trend. At the same time, issues of copyright law and intellectual property are increasingly dominating publishing and print use. The vexed question of who owns the privilege of using, citing, publishing texts and images has as much to do with the specific individuals who created the work under scrutiny as it does with the environments that enabled –or hindered – its creation.
An increasing awareness of transnational global perspectives also necessarily resituates the changing questions and concepts of the author within much broader cultural as well as historical and linguistic contexts.This collection will revisit these matters from a globalized, non-Eurocentric perspective. It foregrounds the extent to which questions of authorship and authority are tied to historical and social practices that fluctuate across languages, cultures and ethnicities. Rather than asking “What is an author?”, we prefer to ask questions like “Where is an author?” and /or “What was an author?” By studying the ways in which notions of authorship and authority are mapped across the ever-shifting boundaries of culture and discipline, we hope to contribute to a better understanding of the issues involved.
The following questions are intended as guidelines to help contributors frame their papers. The list is by no means exhaustive and other approaches or topics certainly welcome:
1. Is and how is the author’s biography enlisted as a way to understand the text s/he has written?
2. How does gender frame our understanding of the author?
3. How do questions of intention and authority relate to our conception of the author?
4. How are originality and creativity dealt with across cultures? Does the author’s value (or authority) increase in proportion to the novelty of his/her work? And how is the question of collective or networked authority conceived or theorized?
5. How does the history of imperialism inflect the construction of the author?
6. How do media determine our understanding of authority? Does one author a film or photograph in the same way that one authors a book?
7. Where is the figure of the author made visible or indicated in a given work or text?
Deadlines and Outcomes:
Abstracts by September 1, 2007, completed papers for accepted proposals by January 31, 2008. Abstracts and papers should be sent by email to one of the two addresses below and contain full contact data.
We plan to propose this collection to English-language publishers in late 2007 and early 2008 with a view to publication in early 2009. We are also planning a colloquium built around the questions raised here and the issues raised by the contributors.
Suzanne R. Pucci, firstname.lastname@example.org
Dept. of Modern Languages
1055 Patterson Office Tower
University of Kentucky
Lexington, KY 40506
Ziad Elmarsafy, email@example.com
Dept of English and related Literatures
University of York
Heslington, YO10 5DD
Department of English and Related Literature
University of York
Heslington, YO10 5DD
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