Nora Slonimsky, Graduate Center, CUNY
Andrew W. Mellon Early American Literature and Material Texts Dissertation Fellow andMCEAS Consortium Fellow
My dissertation, “The Engine of Free Expression” [?]: The Political Economy of Copyright in the Colonial British Atlantic and Early National United States, studies the place of literary property in eighteenth and early nineteenth century politics as well as its role in the development of free expression as both a conceptual and commercial construct. Focusing on an interpretation of intellectual labor that viewed writing as an inherently physical rather than purely cerebral task, I explore how between the British Statute of Anne of 1710 and the United States Copyright Act of 1831, copyright reflected often-competing positions on the distinction among unfettered and uncompensated production. In this intersection of publishing, political, and legal culture, I argue that intellectual property was an integral part of the broader project of federal nation building, particularly through discourses on cartography, land, sedition, and sovereignty.