Crimes of Writing: Problems in the Containment of Representation / Edition 1

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From the origins of modern copyright in early eighteenth-century culture to the efforts to represent nature and death in postmodern fiction, this book explores a series of problems regarding the containment of representation. By examining specific cases in which representation is delimited by the law, Crimes of Writing provides an overview of the theoretical issues arising once language is seen as a matter of property and authorship is viewed as a matter of originality.
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Editorial Reviews

Thirteen essays on the treatment of a criterion for truth by such classical writers as Parmenides, Protagoras, Plato, Aristotle, Theophrastus, Philo, Epicurius, the Stoics, Plotinus, and Ptolemy, whose neglected Greek work on the subject is included here, along with an annotated English translation. The price $LB12.50, has been estimated to US $24. First published in 1991 by Oxford U. Press. Stewart (English, Temple U.) focuses on specific forgeries of George Psalmanazar; the production of ballad scandals of the 18th and 19th centuries; and contemporary legislation regarding graffiti and pornography, emphasizing the issues that arise when language is seen as a matter of property, and authorship is viewed as a sort of originality. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
From the Publisher
"It has become an article of faith in history and literary studies that the best way of understanding the text is to look at the margins, the best way to understand the norm is to look at that which is designated abnormal, deviant and reprehensible. The difficulty with applying this article of faith, is that it requires an extraordinary patience and skill with texts and historical records if it is not to be a justification for self-indulgent grotesquerie. In this book, Susan Stewart shows how fascinating this technique can be when applied by a careful and lucid scholar. In a series of meticulously researched essays, she helps us to understand authorship and text by focusing on a variety of "crimes of writing"—graffiti, pornography, forgery and literary imposture. At the same time, she shows how law is both implicated in and threatened by "the containment of representation."—James Boyle, Washington College of Law, American University

"Susan Stewart is one of the most extraordinary cultural critics writing in America today. Her rich and detailed accounts of the symbolic texture of cultural life are at once always surprising and unfailingly persuasive."—Stanley Fish, Duke University

"Stewart's work provides an oasis in contemporary criticism, a place where theory and poetry, systematic reflection and the essayistic plunge into particular cases, come together in a refreshing synthesis. Crimes of Writing is a worthy successor to Nonsense and On Longing.—W.J.T. Mitchell

"Stewart's formidable scholarship enables her to range over a broad range of case studies without losing theoretical substance or analytical depth."—Canadian Folklore

"Stewart's formidable scholarship enables her to range over a broad range of case studies without losing theoretical substance or analytical depth."—Comptes Rendus

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780822315452
  • Publisher: Duke University Press Books
  • Publication date: 10/28/1994
  • Edition description: 1st pbk. ed
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 368
  • Product dimensions: 5.28 (w) x 8.24 (h) x 1.06 (d)

Meet the Author

Susan Stewart is Professor of English at Temple University. She is the author of On Longing, also published by Duke University Press.

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Table of Contents

1. Crimes of Writing 3
2. Psalmanazar's Others 31
3. Notes on Distressed Genres 66
4. Scandals of the Ballad 102
5. The Birth of Authenticity in the Progress of Anxiety: Fragments of an Eighteenth-Century Daydream 132
6. Exogamous Relations: Travel Writing, the Incest Prohibition, and Hawthorne's Transformation 173
7. Ceci Tuera Cela: Graffiti as Crime and Art 206
8. The Marquis de Meese 235
9. Coda: Reverse Trompe l'Oeil/The Eruption of the Real 273
Works Cited 291
Index 311
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