Accepted paper:

Nineteenth Century Copyright Law and the Restructuring of the Transfer of Knowedge: The Case of Brockhaus


Alberto Gabriele

Paper short abstract:

The papers highlights the activity of Brockhaus before and after the passing of copyright law to identify the shifting categories of the global and of the national in the history of the firm, by juxtaposing the book production of the 1850s-60s with the restructuring of its catalog in the 1870s.

Paper long abstract:

Book historians have often seen copyright law as the legal instrument that enabled the emergence of the modern figure of the author. Roger Chartier in 'Figure of the Author' has identified two lines of argument that scholars have alternatively used to define the notion of the modern author in the commercial marketplace. One, based in the discourse of eighteenth century subjectivity and private property. The other argument, retracing the Foucauldian notion of punishment and repression as a powerful mechanism of identity-formation, insists on the role of censorship in establishing the figure of the author. Not enough attention has been given to how the identity of the publisher has been shaped by the legal framework of the debate on international copyright in the course of the nineteenth century. The binational trade agreements of the 1840s and 1850s are important as they defined not only the figure of the author in the marketplace, but also the figure of the publisher that had undergone a more fluid development among practices in and out of the structures of power of the nation state. I shall focus on the the history of the publishing firm Brockaus in order to trace the discursive force of nationalism as an uneven development in the course of the nineteenth century, and to argue that copyright legislation reshaped the mediation of culture by publishers and book sellers by restructuring their commercial activities under the discursive power of the program of nation-building.

panel P02
Closing the door on globalization: cultural nationalism and scientific internationalism in the 19th and 20th centuries