Writing Together, Writing Apart: Collaboration in Western American Literature

By Linda K. Karell | Go to book overview

Introduction

Collaborative Endeavors/Collaborative Texts

Our debt to tradition through reading and conversation is so massive, our protest or private addition so rare and insignificant, —and this commonly on the ground of other reading, or hearing—that, in a large sense, one would say there is no pure originality. All minds quote. Old and new make the warp and woof of every moment. There is no thread that is not a twist of these two strands. By necessity, by proclivity and by delight, we all quote.

R. W. EMERSON, "QUOTATION AND ORIGINALITY”

For those who privilege the notion of the solitary author, literature characteristically provides vicarious pleasure even while distancing the writer from the reader; literature provides voyeuristic seeing, possessive knowing, or teasing seduction. For those who interest themselves in collaborative writing, literature is reimagined as a place where people meet, where they must negotiate their differences, where they may contest each other's powers, and where, while retaining bodily borders, they may momentarily, ecstatically merge.

HOLLY A. LAIRD, WOMEN COAUTHORS

Perhaps the nature of culture is collaboration.

M. THOMAS INGE, "COLLABORATION AND CONCEPTS OF AUTHORSHIP”

WO EVENTS from my life illuminate my interest in collabora- Ttion. Somewhere around 1996, after I had taken my first faculty position at a land-grant institution following a short stint as an administrator at a private university, I found myself living in a deteriorating, cramped apartment. Our notoriously tight-fisted

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