Though the development of new electronic media has changed radically the ways in which knowledge is classified, stored and retrieved, the nature and function of archives has yet to receive sustained attention – especially among humanists. What, today, is an archive? Where is an archive? When is an archive? How do archives in part construct what they preserve? If each discipline of the humanities creates its own archive of texts, sounds, and/or images, do these different archives operate in similar ways? Is it possible to imagine (with Derrida) a “general archiviology, a word that does not exist but that could designate a general and interdisciplinary science of the archive”?

In May 2006 the CCA hosted a symposium to explore these questions.

In February 2007 the CCA will co-sponsor a second symposium to be held at Columbia University.


Meredith McGill
Department of English, Rutgers
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Beth Povinelli
Department of Anthropology, Columbia
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Working Groups:

IP discussions for 2005-6 will be conducted by two overlapping working groups. One, led by Professor Paula McDowell (English), will concentrate on Intellectual Property across Old and New Media . The other, led by Professors Ellen Goodman and Greg Lastowka (Law-Camden), will be devoted to Regulating Intellectual Property: Imagining Intellectual Property in a Networked World.

Both groups will meet at the CCA seminar room. For the fall semester, meetings will be scheduled on Tuesday afternoons at 1:10.

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Group 1: Intellectual Property Across Old and New Media

Professor Paula McDowell will be serving as the facilitator of this group, and Meredith McGill will be teaching a closely related graduate course on "Literary Properties."  The group will meet every second or third Tuesday from 1:10-4:00, and there will be many related activities, such as a 1-day conference, outside speakers, and shared work-in-progress.  The year's sessions will be divided into three sections addressing the sub-themes "The Prehistory of Copyright," "Ballads: Media, Property, and Genre," and "Old Media/New Media."  Issues likely to be addressed include propriety authorship and the literary marketplace; print culture/print commerce; forgery, fakes, and fraud; copyright and nation-making (and the making of national literatures); oral culture and the evasion of regulation.  We will be reading new books on these topics such as Joseph Loewenstein, The Author's Due: Printing and the Prehistory of Copyright (Chicago, 2004) and William St. Clair, The Reading Nation in the Romantic Period (Cambridge, 2004), which centrally addresses IP (particularly in chs. 2-5).  We will be bringing Professor Loewenstein (and other speakers) to campus.  Finally, we will hold a conference in Spring 2006 devoted to Jonathan Swift's A Tale of A Tub , which has something to say about all of these topics.

Group 2: Regulating Intellectual Property: Imagining Intellectual Property in a Networked World

Professors of Law Greg Lastowka and Ellen Goodman will facilitate this group. It will deal with the relationship between policies that are designed to create incentives for the production of intellectual property and processes that create information with social value. Those who craft rules and policies designed to foster the production and dissemination of information, invention, and expression, including intellectual property laws and communications policy, have imagined certain forms and techniques of creation. However, many juridical constructs of authorship and creativity are theoretically simplistic, premised on unexamined mythologies of creativity, authorship, and the passive consumption of content. Similarly, those who produce intellectual property often do so with an imagination of the contours and consequences of the law protecting rights in the production and dissemination of work. Both the law’s imagination of creation and the creator’s imagination of the law are, in very significant respects, disjunctive. We would like to explore the tensions between these competing constructs of law and authorship and question the ways in which they affect the production, regulation, and consumption of information and knowledge.

The importance of these disjunctions becomes all the more significant once we examine them in the context of a networked digital environment. Intellectual property has, traditionally, allowed a popular sphere of information practices to co-exist with a professional sphere of intellectual property exploitation. The interests of sophisticated and specialized business entities have structured intellectual property law. The “micro-infringements” of intellectual property by the average citizen were generally not considered relevant because they were not deemed to have commercial significance.


The Internet has made the non-commercial sphere of information practices much more significant to commercial players. The Internet has blurred the line between commercial and non-commercial activities, making intellectual property a matter of much wider concern to the average person. Information recording and transmission technologies, including the Internet, have also changed the pace and scope of collaboration in terms of time and space. We would like to explore how these technological changes should alter the way in which law imagines creation and creators respond to the law, ultimately focusing on the question of how intellectual property rights and other forms of information control might better comport with evolving social norms of communication and collaboration.

In developing these themes, we will include readings on the theory and processes of authorship, invention, and other forms of social activity within the ambit of intellectual property protection; the role of markets and property rights in the definition of creativity within various fields; the new technologies of information capture and transformation relevant to intellectual property (e.g. digital authoring tools, peer-to-peer networks, collaborative filtering tools); Congressional testimony from creators, consumers, and rights holders on the need for intellectual property law reform; and historical and cross-cultural investigations of the notion of “intellectual property” and the role of the state in regulating the processes of art, invention, and authorship.

Public Events:

Public Events for the Intellectual Property working groups include all of the CCA’s Spring 2006 lectures as well as two conferences below:

2005-2006 Calendar

Date Time Event Location
Mar 3
10:00 am
5:30 pm

Intellectual Property and Indigenous Peoples

Murray Hall, Room 303
Feb 10
9:30 am A Tale of a Tub Murray Hall
Plangere Annex, Room 302

Plans include visiting lecturers for each of the working groups; one-day conferences for each group; a public discussion on file-sharing, hacking, regulation and freedom, to be webcast in coordination with the programming of HASTAC (; a public lecture series on “Poetics of Circulation,” and other events.