CfP: Arts and Literature. Copyrighted, Jagiellonian University, Seminar 5–6 June 2015

by | 23 Feb 2015


Centre for Advanced Studies in Humanities and Department of Literary Anthropology and Cultural Studies at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków, Poland

Date: 5-6 June, 2015
Application deadline: 15 March, 2015

Contemporary debates on copyright and authors’ rights, however wide and intense, usually shift towards questions of global economy of intellectual property, public access to information, and challenges posed by the technological change. It is symptomatic that the XIX century foundations of international copyright protection were focused on artistic practices — writing, painting, sculpting, composing, taking pictures — while today, art occupies only a marginal position among general questions regarding copyright. Without doubt, this development is a consequence of a widened scope of copyright law and a general shift of Western economy towards “economies of creativity,” of which art is only a minor part. Despite these changes, art – and especially literature – still serves as a context for foundational models of copyright regimes. Notions of authorship, work, form, and content — as formalized in the late XVIII century — are adapted to changing modes of production of intellectual property, but in their general shape, they remain essential concepts for contemporary copyright law. Also, particular artistic practices continue to be governed by the same laws that apply to global market economies and information flows. “Conditions of possibility” of artistic production posed by the law structure certain fundamental decisions behind creating art which remain basically the same since the 19th century, and continue to require critical analysis. The last 30 years saw an emergence of culturally oriented studies on copyright and on its consequences for cultural and aesthetic practices. Work by Martha Woodmansee, Peter Jaszi, Mark Rose, Paul K. Saint-Amour, Rosemary Coombe, Margreta de Grazia, Robert Spoo, and many others participates in a wider movement of critical studies of copyright’s role in shaping modern culture.

The Arts and Literature. Copyrighted seminar invites researchers interested in the cultural analysis of copyright law and authors’ rights – literary scholars, art historians, lawyers, anthropologists, sociologists, film scholars etc. — to participate in a debate on the intersections and dependencies of arts and copyright. How important is copyright for understanding arts and literature? How do copyright structures (or censors) artistic practices? Which art is possible and which is not within copyright regimes? Do arts reproduce or subvert copyright’s logic? Do aesthetical practices have legal consequences? How do lawyers understand art and how do artists understand law? Do literary theorists make good judicial experts? How do aesthetic notions function within legal context and otherwise? Who controls the public domain? Is everyone an author requiring copyright protection today?

Among the proposed topics are:

  • objects of art as individual and common property,
  • copyright as censorship,
  • illegal works of art,
  • copyright’s grey zones and illegal artistic practices,
  • alternative paradigms of cultural production,
  • sampling, remix, mash-up, cento, travesty, parody,
  • old and new media,
  • limits and boundaries of copyright,
  • historical and contemporary cases involving art and artists,
  • copyright thematised and problematized in art,
  • copyright and arts in context of individual and group identity,
  • the public domain in artistic practices.

Abstracts submissions

Please submit your abstract of no more than 300 words to by March 15. Please include your name, e-mail address and basic information (including affiliation and position). Papers should be in English or Polish and no more than 20 minutes in length. It is also possible to submit panels consisting of at least three participants. Submissions should include the above information about each participant and a general title. Notifications of acceptance will be sent before March 20, 2015.

No fee will be required. Organisers will provide help in booking affordable hotel rooms, but will not cover related costs.

Keynote speaker

Paul K. Saint-Amour — Associate Professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania. Prof. Saint-Amour works on Victorian and modernist literature, with special interests in the novel, law, trauma, and visual culture studies. Saint-Amour’s The Copywrights: Intellectual Property and the Literary Imagination (Cornell UP, 2003) won the MLA Prize for a First Book. His articles have appeared in journals such as “Comparative Literature Studies”, “Critical Inquiry”, “Diacritics”, “Modernism/Modernity”, “Nineteenth-Century Studies”, “Novel”, “Post 45”, “Public Books”, “Theory, Culture, and Society”, and “Representations”. A few years ago, Saint-Amour chaired a fact-finding panel initiated by the International James Joyce Foundation (IJJF) to study the permissions history and criteria of the Estate of James Joyce and the general problem of scholarly fair use. Saint-Amour sits on the editorial board of the open-access journal Authorship. From 2012-13 he served as President of the Modernist Studies Association, whose fair use task force he co-chairs with Robert Spoo. He edited the volume Modernism and Copyright (2011) for Oxford UP’s Modernist Literature and Culture series and has just completed a book entitled Tense Future: Modernism, Total War, Encyclopedic Form, forthcoming from Oxford in early 2015.

The project is organised as a part of the research grant “Modern literature and copyright law”, financed by the Polish National Science Centre upon decision number DEC-2012/05/N/HS2/02796.


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