CFP “Copying and Copyright in 19th-Century British Newspapers and Periodicals”

“Copying and Copyright in 19th-Century British Newspapers and Periodicals”

Conference and special issue of Victorian Periodicals Review

Université Paris Diderot, 16-17 March 2017


Despite the importance that newspapers, magazines, and other periodicals had for authors and readers in nineteenth-century Britain, the scholarship on copyright during this period remains book-centered.

Most studies of serials pay little attention to questions of copyright, and most studies of copyright barely mention serials. What features of newspapers and periodicals made them different from books, and to what extent did these differences matter to authors, readers, legislators, and judges? What rules did writers, editors, and publishers develop to regulate (or not) the copying and republication of texts and images? How did norms related to plagiarism and authorial attribution change during this period? What effects, if any, did legislation and case law have on the practices of publishers or the expectations of readers?

As part of a multi-year project on “Copyright Law and Publishing Practice” funded by the Institut universitaire de France (IUF), this conference seeks to bring together scholars from several disciplines (history, literature, law, art history, musicology, etc.) working on the full range of material published in nineteenth-century serials (fiction, poetry, biography, essays, news, musical scores, engravings, half-tones, etc.). Confirmed participants will be asked to draft their contributions in advance of the conference and then to revise their articles for publication in a special issue of Victorian Periodicals Review. Although the following list is not exhaustive, we invite proposals for:


–              Case studies that focus on a single publication, a slice of legislative history, a court case, or a dispute as it played out in the press;

–              Studies that chart changes in author-publisher relations or copyright registrations; shifts in cultural norms related to excerpting and copying texts and images; evolving attitudes toward literary property and public access; the role of technology, business practice, and/or political culture in shaping contemporary understandings and uses of copyright.

–              Whatever the precise subject, it is hoped that authors will consider the relationship between law and publishing practice.


Contributions that discuss newspapers or periodicals in the British colonies, or the international dimensions of copyright, would also be welcome.


Interested scholars should submit a 1-page abstract of their proposed article and a short CV (2 pages) by 1 April 2016. Proposals will be vetted by an interdisciplinary committee, with decisions made by 30 June 2016. During the conference, plenty of time will be set aside for discussion of the draft essays, and senior scholars in law and the humanities will provide feedback in view of preparing the final publication. Some funding will be available to cover lodging in Paris during the conference.

Please send proposals to:

Will Slauter

Laboratoire de recherches sur les cultures anglophones (LARCA), Université Paris Diderot Institut universitaire de France (IUF)


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