Authorship in Antiquity:
An Annotated Bibliography

About the Project

This annotated bibliography is part of the work done for a graduate-level course in Classical Rhetoric. It focuses on issues relevant to authorship in classical Greece and Rome, and can be divided into five sections:

  1. Current literature on classical authorship. The literature that deals specifically with authorship in the ancient world is very limited. Two colleagues here at the University of Minnesota have produced articles on the subject, and Pamela O. Long devotes two chapters to it in her excellent study on openness, secrecy, and authorship within the ancient craft and technical trades.
  2. Primary classical texts. These texts speak directly to classical notions concerning inspiration and originality.
  3. Works concerning literacy and publishing in antiquity. The rise of the “book” (in the form of papyri), literate culture, and the bookselling trade are all relevant to the study of authorship. The containment of knowledge in texts rendered it a tangible artifact, an object that could be owned and readily attributed to its creator. The development of transferable artifacts also led to complaints of book theft, piracy, unauthorized editions, and unattributed or stolen work — all intellectual property concerns.
  4. Canonical essays in authorship studies. Barthes, Foucault, and Woodmansee have all produced central works in the field. These are the essays that every other essay on authorship either cites or pushes against. Each of them locates the rise of the author construct at some point between the Middle Ages and the Romantic era. By their reckoning, there was no classical author. This position is due to a number of factors, including fact that no formal intellectual property code existed in antiquity and that inspiration was believed to become from external sources (i.e., the Muse or the gods) rather than from within.
  5. Miscellaneous relevant texts. Included here are Edward Young’s ideas about Greek originality.
All entries provide a summary of the piece and situate it within the bibliography’s larger scheme. This collection is not intended to be exhaustive (especially regarding texts on orality and literacy), but I am always interested in new works on the central topic.

How to Read this Bibliography

There are a number of ways you can go about this. Most people begin with front page, which presents the last ten entries in reverse chronological order. If you’re my professor and are here to grade my work, I’d suggest you click on the “Archive” link on the front page sidebar. Since all of the current entries were created within the space of a month, the link will allow you to read all the entries at once. Finally, you can read by categories (also listed on the sidebar) or search by keyword.

About the Bibliographer

I’m Krista Kennedy, a Ph.D. student in the University of Minnesota Department of Rhetoric. My research focuses on intersections of networked texts with intellectual property theory and law. More specifically, I study blogs and wikis as sites of the information commons. My other interests include rhetorical theory, authorship, Internet studies, online pedagogy, and technical and professional communication. You can reach me at kenne329[at]umn[dot]edu.