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Versioning: Open Source Literary Production

Friday, January 30, 2015
12:00 AM
North Quad Space 2435

Offering a preview of his forthcoming book Illegal Literature (University of Minnesota Press 2015), David Roh (Old Dominion University) draws an explicit connection between open source software programming and literary and cultural development by theorizing a formalist approach to network architecture and creative practices. As more content migrates to electronic platforms, he argues that literary and cultural development may need to move away from the idea of a sanctified original genius and a fixed textual identity towards a software model of "versioning," which conflicts with the modern iteration of copyright law. Roh argues that the increasingly non-hierarchical mode of intertextual, parodic, and dialogic—oftentimes illegal—creativity necessitates another kind of understanding of how cultural evolution operates, which he calls "disruptive textuality."

David S. Roh is Assistant Professor of Digital Humanities and American literature at Old Dominion University.  In addition to being the author of Illegal Literature, he is co-editor of Techno-Orientalism (Rutgers University Press, spring 2015), which formalizes a sub-discipline surrounding the conflation of Asian bodies, sites, and nationalities in speculative fiction, film, and media. His work has appeared in Law & Literature and MELUS.