On the Commons traces a long shadow from the eighteenth century which falls across works from Wordsworth’s embrace of “a selection of the real language of men” in Lyrical Ballads to Lisa Robertson’s early 21st-century Vancouver-based art criticism. Taking its starting point in the eighteenth-century entanglement of authorial property with the (concurrent) enclosure of English parish commons, On the Commons explores the figural relationship between property and authorship that emerges in the eighteenth-century “literary property debates,” and argues that these figures continue to shape Anglophone poetics to the present day. I argue that “the commons”—or, more generally, the boundaries between public and private—recur in Anglophone poetry as a site in which embodied practices of land and natural resource use and structures of intellectual property are consistently conflated, substituted for one another, and confused. Drawing on Enlightenment philosophy, on histories of publishing and intellectual property, and on Marxist and ecocritical strains of Romantic literary criticism, I look to poetry produced in periods of large-scale privatization, placing two Romantic-period authors (William Wordsworth and John Clare) in conversation with two recent avant-garde writers working at the boundary of poetics and visual art (Lisa Robertson and Ian Hamilton Finlay). Working against a tendency in histories of intellectual property to move from early histories of sited agricultural practice to recent ones of textual and digital licensing (reading “the commons” as an increasingly deterritorialized concept), I argue that, from the early eighteenth century to the present, both territorial and intellectual property have consistently been at stake in formulations of “the commons.”
|Advisor:||McLane, Maureen N.|
|Commitee:||Gitelman, Lisa, Shaw, Lytle|
|School:||New York University|
|School Location:||United States -- New York|
|Source:||DAI-A 81/2(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||British and Irish literature, Literature, Canadian literature|
|Keywords:||Avant-garde, Commons, Enclosure, Long eighteenth century, Poetics, Property|
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