American Women Authors and Literary Property, 1822-1869 by Melissa J. Homestead

By Melissa J. Homestead

Via an exploration of ladies authors'engagements with copyright and married girls estate legislation, American ladies authors and Literary estate, 1822-1869, revises nineteenth-century American literary background, making women's authorship and copyright legislations crucial. utilizing case stories of 5 renowned fiction writers Catharine Sedgwick, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Fanny Fern, Augusta Evans, and Mary Virginia Terhunee, dwelling house indicates how the convergence of copyright and coverture either fostered and limited white women's service provider as authors. girls authors exploited their prestige as nonproprietary matters to virtue by means of adapting themselves to a copyright legislation that privileged readers entry to literature over authors estate rights. Homesteads' inclusion of the Confederacy during this paintings sheds gentle at the centrality of copyright to nineteenth-century American nationalisms and at the strikingly various building of author-reader family members below U.S. and accomplice copyright legislation.

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They were, in the absence of international copyright, unlordly lords with no right to recover damages when others ploughed with their heifers outside the national boundaries of the United States. In the extreme case of Phemie 2 Mary Virginia Terhune, Phemie’s Temptation (New York: Carleton, 1869), 234. Hereinafter cited in the text. P1: NPK/ICD 0521853826c01 0 521 85382 6 CUNY038B/Homestead July 28, 2005 16:15 Authors, Wives, Slaves 23 as an author, this dispossession occurs even within the boundaries of the American nation, where she is the heifer who cannot even sue for selfprotection against the man who “owns” her.

In the first instance, a court would recognize the cookstove as hers, but in the second instance, the outcome is less clear. Because the woman purchased the stove with earnings from what could be construed as household labor to which her husband had a proprietary claim, a court might determine that he, not she, had title to the cookstove. A wife’s acquisition of such personal property with her wages more closely resembles a married woman author’s acquisition of a copyright than a third party settling an item of property on a woman.

And, ultimately, despite her obvious indignation, Terhune seems unable to narrate Phemie’s “emancipation” from marriage. As I discuss in greater detail at the close of this chapter, having brought together the figures of author, wife, and slave in the person of Phemie, Terhune cannot separate them. This inextricable tangle speaks not only to the dispossession of married women authors by the law but to the cultural power paradoxically conferred on (white) women authors by their status as nonproprietary subjects in a nation that refused to grant full status as proprietors to authors.

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