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PLAGIARIZING POSTERITY: READING THE 19TH CENTURY BACKWARDS

  • University of Exeter United Kingdom (map)

A Joint Conference of the 19th and 20th Century BASEES Study Groups

 

Did you know that Voltaire plagiarized Conan Doyle? Or that Maupassant anticipated Proust, or that Shakespeare nicked T.S. Eliot’s best ideas? The notion of ‘plagiarism by anticipation’, first defined by the French Oulipo group in the 1960s, is both quaintly ludicrous and unexpectedly fecund, by turning familiar notions of literary adaptation (and anxiety of influence) upside down. As a character in David Lodge’s novel Small World protests, ‘“…[W]ho can read Hamlet today without thinking of Prufrock? [Or]… Ferdinand in The Tempest without being reminded of ‘The Fire Sermon’ section of The Waste Land?”’ French scholar Pierre Bayard has isolated four criteria of ‘plagiarism by anticipation’: similarity (the original and the plagiarism must resemble each other), dissimulation (the plagiarist must not acknowledge the theft), temporal inversion (the plagiarism must pre-date the original, sometimes by decades or centuries), and dissonance (the plagiarism must appear distinct, in style or content, from its context). We invite scholars of Russian literature, cinema and culture to explore how Russian writers of the 19th and early 20th centuries can be said to have plagiarised (or anticipated) their posterity in various media, up to the present day.  Comparisons with other literatures are also welcome.

The BASEES Study Groups for Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Literature and Culture have combined to co-host a one-day conference at the University of Exeter’s Streatham Campus on June 8th, 2018. Keynote speakers will include Professor Ilya Vinitsky (Princeton) and Professor Timothy Langen (Missouri). Proposals for papers of no more than 15 minutes’ duration should be submitted by May 4th, 2018, to Muireann Maguire at muireann.maguire@exeter.co.uk. The organizers intend to publish selected proceedings, subject to peer review, as an edited volume.

The organisers extend their thanks to BASEES and the University of Exeter for their generous assistance.