In the fall of 1997, the members of a Texas Christian University doctoral seminar on theory of authorship asked Foucaults question "What is an author?" of a variety of texts--Biblical, feminist, canonical, rhetorical, literary. We found that the answer to Foucaults question is neither as unified nor as stable as many contemporary theorists of authorship would have it. Cultural representations of what constitutes an author have, indeed, changed over time, but they also vary from one synchronous community to another. The "modernist author," aka the "Romantic author," replete with autonomy, originality, proprietorship, and commensurate morality, describes only one contemporary representation, albeit a dominant one.
Increasingly, we found that our individual research efforts were turning up provocative and sometimes disturbing observations about one aspect of authorship: citation. It, too, is commonly represented as a unified and stable category of textual activity, only the representers in this case are not theorists of authorship but teachers of English; composition textbooks and writers handbooks describe citation as a routine task undertaken by ethical, responsible writers. The Academy customarily depicts citation as a courtesy to readers and sources, providing a research trail and acknowledging influence. Following our individual research agendas, we members of the Fall 1997 TCU doctoral seminar in theory of authorship examined practices of textual citation as a way of questioning these received representations.
We uncovered systems for inscribing power relations into the production and reception of texts, writers, authors, and author-functions. These systems are apparent in a wide range of texts, including the Greek Testament, nineteenth-century fiction, contemporary feminist theory, and contemporary rhetorical theory. Because each of us was pursuing the trail of the author through materials related to our own research interests, our findings regarding citation amount to an eclectic set of observations. Yet reading through that eclectic set, one must conclude that citation and documentation serve purposes that extend far beyond the niceties of acknowledgment described in writers handbooks.
A word about our identities: We are publishing under the collective name (In)Citers as a way of pointing to the ironies of authorship. By adopting a collective name, we avert, or at least challenge, the naming conventions that would list us according to alphabet, random choice, disciplinary status, or amount of work devoted to the project. By adopting a collective name, we assert that a true collaboration assumes its own identity, one that is more than and different from a listing of individual contributors. We are not, however, attempting to erase the individual identities of those participating in this outing of the (In)Citers; they are attached to the separate statements made in the links listed below.
Our discussion takes the form of seven position statements, for which one-sentence abstracts appear below. Users may click on the link at the end of each abstract to read the full position statement. These statements raise the following issues for consideration:
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