The Birth and Death of the Author is a work about the changing nature of authorship as a concept. In eight specialist interventions by a diverse group of the finest international scholars it tells a history of print authorship in a set of author case studies from the fifteenth to the twenty-first century. The introduction surveys the prehistory of print authorship and sets the historical and theoretical framework that opens the discussion for the seven succeeding chapters. Engaging particularly with the history of the materials and technology of authorship it places this in conversation with the critical history of the author up to and beyond the crisis of Barthes' 'Death of the Author'.

As a multi-authored history of authorship itself, each subsequent chapter takes a single author or work from every century since the advent of print and focuses in on the relationship between the author and the reader. Thus they explore the complexities of the concept of authorship in the works of Thomas Hoccleve and John Lydgate (Andrew Galloway, Cornell University), William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe (Rory Loughnane, University of Kent), John Taylor, "the Water Poet" (Edel Semple, University College Cork), Samuel Richardson (Natasha Simonova, University of Oxford), Herman Melville (and his reluctant scrivener ‘Bartleby’) (William E. Engel, Sewanee, The University of the South), James Joyce (Brad Tuggle, University of Alabama), and Grant Morrison (Darragh Greene, University College Dublin).

chapter |31 pages


The Begetting and Forgetting of the Author

chapter 1|22 pages

Fifteenth Century

Fathering Chaucer: Thoreau, Hoccleve, Lydgate, and the Invention of the First English Author

chapter 2|25 pages

Sixteenth Century

Shakespeare, Marlowe, and Traces of Authorship

chapter 3|19 pages

Seventeenth Century

Authorial Identity and Print in John Taylor’s Common Whore and Arrant Thiefe Pamphlets

chapter 4|19 pages

Eighteenth Century

Samuel Richardson’s ‘Murdering Pen’ and the End of the Novel

chapter 5|27 pages

Nineteenth Century

Melville’s ‘Bartleby’ and the Prefiguration of the Author’s Own Preference Not to Write

chapter 6|12 pages

Twentieth Century

La Mort de l’Auteur: James Joyce and the Birth of Writing

chapter 7|17 pages

Twenty-First Century

‘Who Is That Knocking on Your Door?’: Authorship, Print, and the Multimodal Comics of Grant Morrison in the Digital Age