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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: June 2019

Part II - Systematic Perspectives


To begin with the obvious: the terms “literary” and “authorship” are bound to their histories – at some points of their history bound to each other – and a survey of literary authorship in rhetorics and poetics cannot work from overly granular definitions given the shifts in the signification of these concepts. Material changes (e.g., the shift from manuscript culture to the printed book and from printed book to electronic transmission), social conditions of literary production (e.g., the concentration of textual transmission in monastic settings during the Middle Ages and the emergence of authorial copyright in the eighteenth century), and conceptual shifts (e.g., the development of a notion of authorial subjectivity) all complicate the creation of definitions, and the temptation to construct definitions teleologically is powerful. I will therefore work from the broadest possible starting place: authorship exists where there is acknowledged enunciative responsibility, where the writer is taken to “back” his or her words and their promulgation, and where the writer’s name “marks off the edges” of the work, to use Michel Foucault’s formulation.1