Rethinking Individual Authorship: Robert Burns, Oral Tradition, and the Twenty-First Century


The songs of late-eighteenth-century Scottish poet Robert Burns provide a rich case study of literature that challenges existing notions of the author as an autonomous entity. Responding to twenty-first-century examples of contested issues of intellectual property and plagiarism in an age of digital media, this project illustrates the ways in which precepts of oral tradition can inform our thinking about cultural production within contexts seemingly permeated by ever-present literacy or text-based thinking in order to provide a new outlook on such situations of artistic borrowing or “plagiarism.”

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