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. Stewart focuses on specific cases of "crimes of writing"—the forgeries of George Psalmanazar; the production of "fakelore"; the "ballad scandals" of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries; the imposture of Thomas Chatterton; and contemporary legislation regarding graffiti and pornography. She emphasizes the issues that arise once language is seen as a matter of property, and authorship is viewed as a matter of originality. Finally, Stewart demonstrates that crimes of writing are delineated by the law because they specifically undermine the status of the law itself: the crimes illuminate the irreducible fact that law is written and therefore subject to temporality and interpretation. This valuable and pioneering work, originally published in 1991 (Oxford University Press), will be of interest to literary and legal theorists, folklorists, anthropologists, and scholars of eighteenth-century and postmodern culture.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"In the essays collected in Crimes of Writing, Stewart continues to build on her reputation as one of the most productive and challenging deconstructors of the disciplinary boundaries that supposedly separate literary history and critical theory from contemporary cultural analysis."— Michael Moon, 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, University of Chicago

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 (
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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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