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Authorship and the narrative of the self

Hartley, John 2013. Authorship and the narrative of the self. In: Gray, Jonathan and Johnson, Derek eds. A Companion to Media Authorship, Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, pp. 23-47.

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This chapter conforms to the plot scheme recommended by Frances Taylor Patterson, instructor of silent-movie photoplay composition at Columbia University in the 1920s, who summarized it as follows: Act 1–get a man up a tree; Act 2–throw stones at him; Act 3–get him down. In this case, the “man” in question is “the author.” Act I sees our hero transform historically from divine status (in oral media) to economic institution (in print media); Act II “throws stones” by questioning the need for such a figure at all (in modern visual media); Act III restores a certain level of narrative equilibrium by describing the return of the author – now expanded to whole populations (in contemporary digital media). This plot structure enables a conceptual and textual investigation of authorship under three headings: God is an Author (Shakespeare); No-One is an Author (Vogue); Everyone is an Author (Jefferson Hack). That each of these apparently mutually exclusive propositions may be true, even at the same time, and also contestable, is the problematic addressed by the chapter as a whole. The long history to which this brief plot gestures may, it is argued, indicate profound shifts in what it is that authorship creates: Nature, the world, and truth (premodern); Intellectual property and thus economic wealth (modern); The self (contemporary).

Item Type: Book Section
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Journalism, Media and Culture
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell
ISBN: 9780470670965
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Last Modified: 22 Oct 2016 03:05

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