AbstractsLaw & Legal Studies


In recent years, there have been an increasing number of inquiries into the history of authorship. Many scholars have constructed their own historiographies of authorship, and these studies have shown the various ways in which legal and aesthetic concepts have historically converged to form what is currently acknowledged as the modern author. There is however a widening gap between current literary theory and legal practice concerning the recognized definitions of authorship. This thesis is not only interested in how legal and aesthetic concepts converged to naturalize the concept of authorship, but more particularly, how it worked as a subjective force in the life of Charles Dickens. My general aim was to use the various trajectories—legal, economic, sociocultural, and technological—that have intersected with his life to delineate one particular ‘descent’ of modern authorship: the emergence of the professional author. In performing this task, I analyzed discursive fragments, as organized under the author-function of Charles Dickens in order to historicize the author as an individualized professional in the nineteenth-century. Dickens resided in the midst of competing notions of authorship and was a part of the struggle to institute a particular vision of authorship. By examining how this struggle unfolded, I exposed the various boundaries and forces that helped shape the author as professional.