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INF2320 WEEK 2: Questions of Authors and Authenticity

Week 2 lecture for INF2320 Remix Culture, Faculty of Information, University of Toronto - Jan. 19, 2016 Remix

Sara Grimes

on 2 February 2016

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Transcript of INF2320 WEEK 2: Questions of Authors and Authenticity

Questions of Authors
and Authenticity
INF2320 Remix Culture
[Week 2 - Jan. 19, 2016 - Remixed from orig. ©2014 Grimes]
Rec 3
Rec 2
Rec 1

©2006 Edward Burtynsky
© Fabian Thomas
The Death of the Author (1968)
“….writing is the destruction of every voice, of every point of origin. Writing is that neutral, composite, oblique space where our subject slips away, the negative where all identity is lost, starting with the very identity of the body writing” (p.142).
“It is thus logical that in literature it should be this positivism, the epitome and culmination of capitalist ideology, which has attached the greatest importance to the ‘person’ of the author. The author still reigns in histories of literature, biographies of writers, interviews….in the very consciousness of men of letters anxious to unite their person and their work through diaries and memoirs” (p.143).
Suppressing the author (as Barthes argues the French poet Mallarme does) in order to “restore the place of the reader” – what do you think this means?
“We know now that a text is not a line of words releasing a single ‘theological’ meaning (the ‘message’ of the Author-God) but a multi-dimensional space in which a variety of writings, none of them original, blend and clash. The text is a tissue of quotations drawn from the innumerable centres of culture” (p. 146).
Understanding & analyzing texts
Problematizing the author – Barthes in his post-structuralist mood.

“The reader is the space on which all the quotations that make up a writing are inscribed without any of them being lost; a text’s unity lies not in its origin but in its destination” (p. 148). Leading into the last line of the essay: “The birth of the reader must be at the cost of the death of the Author” (p. 148).

Rejection of the idea of the author as creator, authority and/or owner of the text. Text comes into being through language, and most importantly through reading. Role of the reader in “creating” making sense of and establishing authority and ownership over the text as literary/cultural experience.
What is an Author? (1969)
Written in response to Barthes. Foucault attempts to theorize that if the author is dead, who or what has taken its place? What occupies the “space” left empty by the author, within both structuralist and post-structuralist theories of authorship/textual studies?
Writing – external, rather than internal – when successful sublimates itself: “In writing, the point is not to manifest or exalt the act of writing, nor is it to pin a subject within language; it is, rather, a question of creating a space into which the writing subject constantly disappears” (sect. 1 para.5).
If privilege is taken away from the author, where should it go? Foucault argues that even among those who espouse the “death of the author” claim, authority and reverence is still preserved and placed somewhere (else). Onto the text, for instance (as found in structuralist critique).
For a work to have structure, it must be a united whole – therefore authored by an author (whom we recognize as a creators of united texts or works).

He says: “we must locate the space left empty by the author's disappearance, follow the distribution of gaps and breaches, and watch for the openings this disappearance uncovers” (sect. 2 para. 1).
“The author's name serves to characterize a certain mode of being of discourse: the fact that the discourse has an author's name, that one can say "this was written by so-and-so" or "so-and-so is its author," shows that this discourse is not ordinary everyday speech [...] it is a speech that must be received in a certain mode...must receive a certain status” (sec. 2, para. 7).

But is this always true? Or only true of famous names (e.g. when we say “big name” or "making a name for oneself").
This is (at least part of) what distinguishes and sets those boundaries that he asks about earlier on in the article. How do we bound a work? Is everything written a “work” – including grocery lists, etc. No.

And so too, a writer or signatory is not necessarily an “author” – something else is involved...a special “author function” that exists outside of the author as individual person.
"...the name seems always to be present, marking off the edges of the text, revealing, or at least characterizing, its mode of being.” (sect. 2, para. 8).
Author-Function as Discourse
Four characteristics or rather moments out of which the author-function emerges or is articulated:
1 – it emerges out of “legal codification” – the author is punishable. Authorship as action – placed in “bipolar field of the sacred and the profane, the licit and the illicit…” (sect. 3, para. 2).
2 – (historical/cultural) context-dependent: its forms, functions and associations change over time. E.g. folktales were long passed down, in oral storytelling traditions, without “authors,” but deemed authentic based on historicity (and enduring relevance).
3 – emerges out of complex social construction of what an “author” is and involves: an individual possessing “a “deep” motive, a “creative” power, or a “design…” (sect. 3 para. 6).
RELATED: If the work published anonymously, literary criticism continuously tries to ““recover” the author” (or resurrect), and anonymity remains unacceptable – “the game becomes one of rediscovering the author” (sect. 3, para.5). Is this still true today? E.g. Bansky.
4 – emerges out of signs embedded in the text itself through the inclusion of “personal pronouns, adverbs of time and place, and the conjugation of verb” (sect. para.).
Important overlaps in this last part with Barthes. The “plurality of self” implies that the reader can concurrently, and non-exclusively, be (or participate in) one of the “selves.” E.g. where “I conclude” can in a sense refer to anyone who draws the same conclusions, etc.
In contrast, contemporary literary traditions = authenticity bestowed through the “sovereignty of the author.”
Emerges out of rules, and ability to transgress these rules. Implied here = with the birth of the author, comes the birth of the plagiarist.
Demands that the creativity of the author be “original” and recognizable (in the sense that the writing follows a “principle of unity” (voice?), that can evolve over time, etc. See the St. Jerome criteria outlined in sect. 3, para 8).

Largely a projection – an expectation.
The author her/himself operates in dialogue with this popular, social construction of the “author” (the projection, associated expectations) – and the author function.
E.g. in first-person narratives, the readers know the “voice” is not the author him/herself…but a character, an alter ego, a second self, plurality of selves.
Near the end: starts to hint at creative influence, discussing theorists and authors who had an influence that extended far beyond their own specific texts (such as Marx, Freud, 19th century gothic horror founder/novelist Ann Radcliffe).
“Ann Radcliffe’s texts opened the way for a certain number of resemblances and analogies which have their model or principle in her work” (sect. 5, para. 14).
Claims that the novelist departs from the theorist, because theories inspire not only analogies but also make possible differences. As we will discuss later in the term, contemporary texts (transmedia intertextuality) depend as heavily on genre-bending, subversion and difference (e.g. Fractured Fairytales).

So – how might we revisit the following claim, to apply it not only to academic discourses, but to texts, movies, videogames (and other remixes, meta-texts, and transmedia texts) as well?

“In this way, we can understand the inevitable necessity…for a “return to the origin,” This return which is part of the discursive field itself, never stops modifying it. The return is not a historical supplement that would be added to the discursivity, or merely an ornament; on the contrary, it constitutes a effective and necessary task of transforming the discursive practice itself. […] [For example…] reexamining Freud’s texts modifies psychoanalysis itself, just as a reexamination of Marx’s would modify Marxism” (sect. 3, para. 18).
Section 4 - doesn’t directly (or purposefully) apply to remix, but may be useful for studying it:

“…I seem to call for a form of culture in which fiction would not be limited by the figure of the author. It would be pure romanticism, however, to imagine a culture in which the fictive would operate in an absolutely free state, in which fiction would be put at the disposal of everyone and would develop without passing through something like a necessary or constraining figure (i.e. author-function)” (sect. 4, para 5).
Predicts a moment where the author function no longer prevails, wherein “fiction and its polysemous [i.e. having multiple meanings] texts will once again function according to another mode, but still with a system of constraint – one that will no longer be the author, but will be determined or perhaps, experienced” (sect. 4, para 5).
The work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction (1936)
Art has "always been reproducible" but mechanical reproduction is something new: expands, breaks free from traditional (material?) constraints of time and space.
Aura and Authenticity
Aura = phenomenon of distance/distancing.
In art, linked to origins in ritual (and before that magic)
"To pry an object from its shell, to destroy its aura, is the mark of a perception whose “sense of the universal equality of things” has increased to such a degree that it extracts it even from a unique object by means of reproduction. Thus is manifested in the field of perception what in the theoretical sphere is noticeable in the increasing importance of statistics. The adjustment of reality to the masses and of the masses to reality is a process of unlimited scope, as much for thinking as for perception." (sect.3 para. 2)
For the first time - through photography and film - art is "emancipated" from its "parasitical dependence on ritual" (sect. 4, para.2)
Highlights attempts by film studios to re-introduce the "aura" through "cult" of the movie star "personality." Doesn't seem too concerned about this, but 80 years later, this part of the industry is massive. Celebrity photographers, celebrity directors...perhaps not so different from literature/authors after all.
Sect. 10, para 2 and 3: What would he say about the internet? Lots in here that's relevant to contemporary examples, innovations, as well as to remix specifically.
Our subgroup has come up with the following changes to the order of the syllabus.

The following is the order we suggest:

Week 1
Week 2
Week 5
Week 6
Week 4
Week 7
Week 8
Week 9
Week 10
Week 3
Week 11
Week 12
Best regards,

Nadia, Fawzia, Alex, and Sebastien
(From Heidi, Jeanette, Lindsay, Lisl, and Tania)

"Our recommendation is a simple one:
Move Wk5: Remix Theory & Transmedia Intertexualtiy to Wk3 to give some theory to ground everything else that follows.
This will move Wk3: Creative Influence to Wk4 (which will correspond with the opening of the Pride and Prejudice and Zombies movie on Feb5 - field trip, anyone?)
This puts Public Domain and the Commons and Copyright and Fair Dealing Wars back to back."
Remix Culture
Questions of Authors and Authenticity
Creative Influence
Bloom H. → excerpt book (chapters selected are indicated above)
Remix Theory and Transmedia Intertextuality
Public Domain and the Commons
Bettig, R. V. → no digital copy available
Lessig, L. → link updated
Copyright and Fair Dealing Wars
Lessig, L. → link updated

Cultural Rights, Moral Rights
Lessig L. → link updated
Politics of Remix Technologies
Remixing the Public Sphere
Edwards, R. L. & Tryon, C. → link updated
Tushnet, R. → link updated
The Global Remix Project
Prosumption, Fandom, and Free Labour
Lessig, L. → link updated
Fleming, D. → link changed
Multiple Literacies and Remix as the 21st Century Skill
Kress, G. → access issues
Gee, J.P. → access issues
Ashley, Claire, Jenny, Yara, Nahyeon, Brenna, and Maryam
Rec. 4
Week 4: The Public Domain and the Commons, with the Kill Bill screening on this night instead of Week 3.

Week 5: Copyright and Fair Dealings Wars

Week 6: Cultural Rights and Moral Rights

Week 7: Prosumption, Fandom and Free Labour

Week 8: The Politics of Remix Technology

Week 9: Remix Theory and Transmedia Intertextuality

Week 10: Remixing the Public Sphere

Week 11: Multiple Literacies and Remix as a 21st Century Skill

Week 12: The Global Remix Project
"It is inherent in the technique of the film as well as that of sports that everybody who witnesses its accomplishments is somewhat of an expert."

"...the newsreel offers everyone the opportunity to rise from passer-by to movie extra. In this way any man might even find himself part of a work of art...Any man today can lay claim to being filmed."
"For centuries a small number of writers were confronted by many thousands of readers. This changed toward the end of the last century. With the increasing extension of the press...an increasing number of readers became writers – at first, occasional ones. It began with the daily press opening to its readers space for “letters to the editor.” And today there is hardly a gainfully employed European who could not, in principle, find an opportunity to publish somewhere..."

"Thus, the distinction between author and public is about to lose its basic character. The difference becomes merely functional; it may vary from case to case. At any moment the reader is ready to turn into a writer. ... Literary license is now founded on polytechnic rather than specialized training and thus becomes common property."
0.5 mm long Tardigrade or "water bear" or "moss piglet"
Q to group: Can you highlight which readings are (or might require) new additions?

- Set aside some time for inputting remix recommendations, and for students not here last week to discuss/propose some changes
- Does everyone have a screening group? (make sure to email me the new list/additions if any)
- Weekly readings - "group 3" discovered that many links are down, or not optimal. Have sent in amended list, will add to new syllabus. THANK YOU!!!!
Full transcript