Crimes of Writing

Problems in the Containment of Representation

Crimes of Writing

Book Pages: 368 Illustrations: 12 illustrations Published: October 1994

Author: Susan Stewart

Art and Visual Culture > Art Criticism and Theory, Cultural Studies, Literature and Literary Studies > Literary Criticism

From the origins of modern copyright in early eighteenth-century culture to the efforts to represent nature and death in postmodern fiction, this book explores a series of problems regarding the containment of representation. Stewart focuses on specific cases of "crimes of writing"—the forgeries of George Psalmanazar; the production of "fakelore"; the "ballad scandals" of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries; the imposture of Thomas Chatterton; and contemporary legislation regarding graffiti and pornography. She emphasizes the issues that arise once language is seen as a matter of property, and authorship is viewed as a matter of originality. Finally, Stewart demonstrates that crimes of writing are delineated by the law because they specifically undermine the status of the law itself: the crimes illuminate the irreducible fact that law is written and therefore subject to temporality and interpretation. This valuable and pioneering work, originally published in 1991 (Oxford University Press), will be of interest to literary and legal theorists, folklorists, anthropologists, and scholars of eighteenth-century and postmodern culture.


"In the essays collected in Crimes of Writing, Stewart continues to build on her reputation as one of the most productive and challenging deconstructors of the disciplinary boundaries that supposedly separate literary history and critical theory from contemporary cultural analysis." — Michael Moon, Duke University

"Stewart’s work provides an oasis in contemporary criticism, a place where theory and poetry, systematic reflection and the essayistic plunge into particular cases, come together in a refreshing synthesis. Crimes of Writing is a worthy successor to Nonsense and On Longing." — W. J. T. Mitchell, University of Chicago


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Susan Stewart is Professor of English at Temple University. She is the author of On Longing, also published by Duke University Press.

Table of Contents Back to Top
1. Crimes of Writing 3

2. Psalmanazar's Others 31

3. Notes on Distressed Genres 66

4. Scandals of the Ballad 102

5. The Birth of Authenticity in the Progress of Anxiety: Fragments of an Eighteenth-Century Daydream 132

6. Exogamous Relations: Travel Writing, the Incest Prohibition, and Hawthorne's Transformation 173

7. Ceci Tuera Cela: Graffiti as Crime and Art 206

8. The Marquis de Meese 235

9. Coda: Reverse Trompe l'Oeil\The Eruption of the Real 273

Works Cited 291

Index 311
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Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-1545-2
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