Authorship Manifesto in the Age of the New Media
This Manifesto considers Foucault’s “What is an author” and Kathleen Fitzpatrick’s lecture at Duke University in February of 2011 “The future of Authorship,” to establish the 10 commanding roles and responsibilities of the author in the Age of New Media.
1. The role of the author is to give validity to a text. Since the 18th century, we have trusted the legitimacy of a text by the “creative power” (Foucault 551) of the author who is behind it. Especially in the Age of New Media when information is so readily available, and a nation discovers from an online social media site that the most sought-after terrorist in the last decade is dead 45 minutes before the President addresses the country, the author must rise as the legitimizing force behind writing.
2. Foucault argued in the late 70s that the author is defined as having a constant level of value, theoretical coherence, structural unity, and being a historical figure that transcends events (Foucault, 554 ). These result in the author having a recognizable and consistent style. In the Age of the New Media where originality is a “fuzzy” space as Fitzgerald points out in her lecture, authors must maintain this structural unity and theoretical coherence to make them distinguishable.
3. The role of the author is to provide unity for his or her texts since maturation and growth can explain inconsistencies in the writing of the same author (Foucault 552). More specifically, Foucault argues that the author serves to “neutralize the contradictions that may emerge in a series of texts.”For example, J.K. Rowling is famous for her Harry Potter books but she recently published a more mature novel for a more adult audience. In Rowling’s example, we see the maturation of a writing style to appeal to a more specific audience. In another example, Elizabeth Gilbert’s personal anecdotal novel-turned Hollywood film Eat, Pray, Love intrigued audiences because they witnessed the maturation of the author as the story progressed. The New Media authors have the responsibility of growing alongside their writing, and often, their readers.
4. The proximity of audience and author would not be possible if we did not have access to social media networks. In the Age of the New Media, it is the author’s responsibility to respond to the cult of celebrity around his or her work. Social media outlets like twitter, facebook, and personal blogs, are tools to revitalize the cult of celebrity around the author and let readers into the lives of their favorite writers. Authors do not have to abandon their image of celebrity to make way for film actors. Social media is helping authorship be “cool” again.
5. The author in the Age of New Media must adjust to the nature of online discourse which encourages “process over product” as Kathleen Fitzpatrick argues in her lecture “The Future of Authorship.”
6. Directly linked to the latter point, the author in the Age of New Media must consider “clicks” and “links” as a means of scholarly dialogue and cooperation. Whereas in the era of print text, scholarly writing involved individualistic examination, today authors must be open to receive feedback through direct comments online. Also as Fitzpatrick argues, this online discourse will help alleviate the anxieties that haunt authors when it comes to working for a finished product. Online dialogue in blogs and websites makes the process of writing an ongoing conversation, a continual collaboration.
7. The New Media author must seek to surprise and engage readers by producing online or computer-based texts that do not necessarily have to be easily reproducible on print. Exploring new media such as shorts clips or graphics integrated into text can help the author adapt to new technology.
8. Finally the author of the Age of New Media must learn of the benefits of sharing as opposed to hoarding what Kathleen Fitzpatrick refers to as “intellectual property.” Authors must be willing to give up that intellectual property for the advancement of society and broadening of knowledge. This act of sacrifice, or rather, exchange, will help reach a wider readership which should ultimately be the goal of the author.
Fitpatrick, Kathleen. “The Future of Authorship.” Center Lecture Series. n.d. Duke University. Durham, NC.
Foucault, Michel. “What Is an Author?” Criticism: Major Statements, 4th ed. ed. Charles Kaplan and William Davis Anderson. Boston and New York: Bedford/St. Martin, 2000.This Manifesto considers Foucault’s “What is an author” and Kathleen Fitzpatrick’s lecture at Duke University in February of 2011 “The future of Authorship,” to establish the 10 commanding roles and responsibilities of the author in the Age of New Media.
Digital Composition, Digital Humanities
Bettina Lim provides her own description for her "Authorship Manifesto in the Age of New Media": "This Manifesto considers Foucault’s “What is an author” and Kathleen Fitzpatrick’s lecture at Duke University in February of 2011 “The future of Authorship,” to establish the 10 commanding roles and responsibilities of the author in the Age of New Media."
Digital Humanities, Digital Composition