Monday, July 9, 2012

Stern on Intellectual Property in "The Adventures of David Simple"

Simon Stern, University of Toronto Law, University of Toronto, has posted Speech and Property in David Simple, which is forthcoming in ELH: English Literary History 79 (2012): 623-54.  Here is the abstract:    
Throughout Sarah Fielding's 1744 novel David Simple, conflicts over the citation, attribution, and withholding of others’ words are associated with property disputes and with acts of impersonation. The novel’s villains, driven by anxieties about scarcity, repeatedly seek to appropriate their victims’ material and verbal resources, reflexively categorizing them as a kind of property. These manipulative tactics—and the novel’s ambivalent attitude towards direct quotation—point to concerns implicit in contemporaneous thought about literary property, involving the problems associated with converting words into property and the difficulty of controlling what happens to them as a result.