Rhetoric, Feminism, and the Politics of Ownership


Remarks Prepared for



Feminism(s) & Rhetoric(s): From Boundaries to Borderlands


Oregon State University, August 30, 1997

Andrea A. Lunsford



Almost fifteen years ago now, Lisa and I wrote what we took to be a fairly straightforward little essay called "Why Write. . .Together?" In it, we argued that the concept of the lonely scribbler-the romantic concept of the author as singular, originary, autonomous, and uniquely creative (in a word, as "original")-that this concept effectively hid from view the largely collaborative and highly dispersed nature of most creative endeavors, from art, drama, literature, and film to scientific experimentation and discovery. In Singular Texts/Plural Authors we explored further the deeply collaborative nature of most professional and academic writing, and we noted some of the problems attendant on continuing to try to fit the square peg of multiple, multiplicitous, polyvocal creativity into the round hole of largely white, male, singular "authorship."

At the time, we were responding to and joining the conversation surrounding work in composition studies that was revealing the corporate and collective nature of a lot of writing on the job, to the poststructuralist critique of the founding subject, and to feminist activism in recovering the voices of women silenced by the hegemony of romantic authorship-as well as to our own material conditions: we wanted to write together, darn it, and the academy (and especially our department colleagues) didn't want us to!

We found supporters among women in many fields: in aesthetics and the history of ideas from Martha Woodmansee, who has been arguing passionately since the early 1980s that our culture's obsession with the "author" of intellectual property that could be commodified and bartered in a capitalistic system has disenfranchised many, many creators-a great many of whom are women. In anthropology, we found scholars like Alma Gottlieb ( "Beyond the Lonely Anthropologist: Collaboration in Research and Writing") and Elizabeth Lapovsky Kennedy ("In Pursuit of Connections: Reflections on Collaborative Work") reflecting not only on the ambiguous meaning of "collaborator" (after all, during the war we shot collaborators!) but on academic suspicions of all cooperative work. In the field of anthropology, Kennedy now notes that "it is unquestionably easier to do collaborative research and writing in the 1990's than it was in the 1960's" - and she credits three intellectual developments for managing such a change: "feminist scholarship, anticolonialist scholarship, and interpretive anthropology," all of which, she says, "present challenges to the traditional 'objective' report authored by the heroic anthropologist, the scientist of culture who works alone."

We found support-usually from women working together and writing/talking about it-in many other fields, and for a (short) time it seemed to us possible that some kind of subtle but powerful re-balancing act might be possible: we would simply work with other feminists to demonstrate the degree to which all discourse is produced socially, and growing recognition of this seeming truism would break the hierarchical binary so firmly entrenched: solitary, original authorship powerful and good; collaborative, shared authorship "uncreative" and bad.

I'm oversimplifying wildly here (surely we couldn't have been *that* naive!) to make a point: that during the 80s we sensed a moment where change might be possible, change that would give voice to many women and to many ways and means of cultural production not valued by modernist epistemologies or economies. It felt to us like a "postmodern moment" which opened a space in which women could work for change in the dynamics of intellectual property, of textual ownership, of the value structures surrounding certain kinds of cultural/textual production.

As with other such "moments" in the history of intellectual property, this one passed swiftly. Indeed, such a moment had occurred at the inception of intellectual property as we know it in copyright law today (in the early 1700s), when the "many hands" that produce a book were not hierarchized as they are today and when the "author" was not the solitary proprietary owner. Another moment seemed to occur in the 1798 edition of the collaboratively produced and anonymously published Lyrical Ballads: a moment in which language might be of and for the common people-the "folk" of the "middle and lower classes" as Wordsworth and Coleridge called them. In hindsight, it seems a moment that could have allowed for greater democratization of language. But it passed swiftly, hardening into Wordsworth's iteration of originality, of the romantic poet/genius-and of proprietary ownership in the 1800 edition, with its lengthy Preface and its one name on the cover.

So perhaps we should have been more wary of this 1980s postmodern moment for change in understandings of intellectual property. In fact, we should have been wary of the phrase itself, of the ways it has been raced and classed, as well as gendered, since the "property" part of it had been applied to women (and to all African Americans and to many Native Americans in the "new" world), who were themselves thought of as property, their bodies commodified in many ways. From Latin proprietas, for ownership, "property" connotes exclusionary rights and possessions. Locke inscribed this view in his declaration that every man is entitled to "life, liberty, and property." and we can find that same concept enshrined in the discourses of Western government and religion from Locke's time to our own.

At the same time that Lisa and I were meditating on the metaphor of "property," getting more and more wary of "intellectual property" and all its baggage, other feminists, wary as well, were busy calling into question the supposed "death of the author"-the owner of intellectual property. Agreeing with Nancy Miller that this "death" does not "necessarily work for women," Linda Hutcheon puts it this way: "The current post-structuralist/postmodern challenges to the coherent, autonomous subject have to be put on hold in feminist and postcolonialist discourses, for both must work first to assert and affirm a denied or alienated subjectivity: those radical post-modern challenges are in many ways the luxury of the dominant order which can afford to challenge that which it securely possesses" ("Circling the Downspout of Empire: Post-Colonialism and Postmodernism" in Past the Last Poet, ed. Ian Adam and Helen Tiffin. U Calgary P, 1990: 167-89). (Nancy K. Miller, "Changing the Subject: Authorship, Writing, and the Reader." Feminist Studies/Critical Studies. Ed. Teresa de Lauretis. Bloomington, IN: IU Press, 1986: 102-20).

These cautions seem compelling-compelling enough to suggest that the old economies of intellectual property-perhaps even the metaphor of property itself--should not be rejected out of hand if doing so once again disenfranchises many white women and almost all people of color. Perhaps ownership of intellectual property, and the "author" along with it, could be rehabilitated.

In fact, as many of us now recognize, during the two and a half decades that literary theorists have been debating the notion of "authorship" and ownership of texts, the terms of the debate over intellectual property have shifted swiftly and dramatically. The "momentary space" I mentioned earlier, marked by challenges from poststructuralist theory, the electronic revolution, and women's (and particularly women of color's) modes of collaborative practice has been closed up in the wake of a powerful appropriation of the "author" construct in the legal and corporate worlds. In the body of law governing copyright, the solitary and sovereign "author" holds sway: copyright cannot exist in a work produced as a "true collective enterprise"; copyright does not hold in works that are not "original" (which, as Peter Jaszi has demonstrated at length "rule out protection for folkloric productions that are valued for their fidelity to tradition rather than their deviations from it") and copyright does not extend to what the law sees as the "basic components" of cultural productions-the rhythms of traditional musical forms, say). What copyright law *does* protect is "author's rights," which have been expanded and expanded and expanded during the last 30 years, and which are due to be expanded further in this coming year's congressional deliberations-which call for extending the term of copyright to 95 years, thus effectively keeping a great deal of cultural material out of the public domain.

More interesting and alarming to me as a feminist and a rhetorician, however, is the appropriation of the sovereign "author" construct in and by the corporate world, especially in cyberspace, were the largest single domain is now .com, with four and a half million hosts accounting for almost 25 percent of the Internet -- and .com, the latest figures tell us, is growing by 52 percent annually, or at the rate of 18,000 new "hosts" per day. In this and other arenas, corporate entities now assume the mantle of the "author, who has clearly come back to life with a vengeance: look at Disney, at Microsoft, at the multinational corporations, at the New York Times, for heaven's sakes, which last year attempted to take copyright for everything printed in its pages, a move barely averted by the newspaper's writers. These large entities now claim "author's rights"-and they have squads of lawyers working around the clock to help them.(If you think you are an "author," think again - and check your contracts. In the last 15 years, even the educational journals in our field have begun appropriating the copyright - in essence taking on "authorship" for themselves-and getting fees for our work when it appears in coursepaks, for instance.) I could go on and on about what I am calling the corporate and legal appropriation of the "author" construct and their use of it to shape intellectual property regimes that are to their own corporate interests. The trend has resulted in a kind of a "gold-rush" mentality to copyright and patent everything under the sun: Bill Gates is trying to corner the world's market of images; plastic surgeons in New York are trying to patent the faces they "produce"; scientists everywhere are patenting strings of DNA; Disney is working hard to extend the limits of copyright to over 100 years because-horrors!-Mickey Mouse is coming out of copyright and might become part of the cultural commons; and drug companies are moving to patent and copyright chemicals found in third-world country plants in order to process them and sell them as "cures"--at a great profit. In this atmosphere, it's no wonder that the Italian government is trying to copyright the Tuscan landscape and that cartoons show fathers patiently trying to "gain the rights" to wives and children. Property indeed.

Perhaps most troubling of all, however, has been the move in legal and corporate worlds to apply the mantle of proprietary romantic authorship to hardware and software: as Peter Jaszi notes, "despite their [wide public] utility and notwithstanding the collaborative nature of the process by which they are produced, computer programs" are increasingly being defined as the "works of individual creative genius-considered, that is, as works of authorship within the core protection of national laws of copyright and authors' rights." This latest move, seen in all the documents coming out of WIPO, to my mind puts an end to the possibility for democratization of language and knowledge that cyberspace at one time seemed to hold at least some promise of.

In short, while many of us have been debating the "death of the author" and theorizing about the possibilities of agency and subjectivity for disenfranchised groups-the horse is most definitely out of the barn. As most of us have watched, somewhat desultorily, from the sidelines, the old cloak of originary author/genius has been (through an act of "theft" or "disguise" perhaps, to use Nancy Miller's terms?) spruced up and donned by the corporate entrepreneurial interests-and the bigger, more global, the better. Especially on the Internet, which Marc Andreessen (the 24-year-old multi-millionaire creator of Netscape) calls "more than anything else, a platform for entrepreneurial activities."

Issues of "authorship" and intellectual property are getting really complicated here, girlfriends. And given the complexity I've already conjured up, I won't even go into the ways we as academics perpetuate what I think of as the negative aspects of this authorial/entrepreneurial regime through our institutional policies, pedagogies, and practices. Just to hint at this complicitousness, however, I'll refer to a piece of a hypertext I worked on last year, in which I said that "for a long time now, I have not felt a strong sense of individual ownership of any text I work on producing. . . . But I would be disingenuous indeed if I did not recognize the degree to which my position as a white tenured full professor gives me the luxury of this stand: were I a beginning assistant professor, much less a graduate student, I would have to acknowledge a major truth of our profession: individual ownership of intellectual property is the key to advancement."

Rather than dwell on this complicity, however, which I think is fairly obvious to us now, I want to ask instead how feminism [and rhetoric?] can engage this complicated moment, and these complicated notions of ownership and intellectual property. What can we do in the face of the "land grab" or "gold rush" mentality that is currently driving legal, governmental, and corporate efforts to own and control more and more, to hedge off for their own benefit and profit most of the world's natural and intellectual resources?

First and most obvious, I suppose, we can join 'em - taking on the mantle of entrepreneurial authorship whenever and wherever possible as one way to gain the agency and the presence of subjectivity long denied to women. Indeed, some feminist scholars have advocated such a move: if the tools of the master cannot dismantle the master's house-well, then, steal some new tools--and buy the house. I take this option seriously, especially given the vastly oppressive material conditions under which many of the world's women labor. And yet, given the history and ideology of this model of proprietary ownership, I am deeply troubled by this particular response.

A second response may be to hope for a shift in the values underlying the model of ownership, a shift, articulated by many in the digital world, that might redistribute "intellectual property" in new and beneficial ways. Esther Dyson, daughter of astrophysicist Freeman Dyson and sister of George, of "The Starship and the Canoe" fame(-how come we never heard of her Mother, or of Esther either, until just recently??) has argued for just such a shift in value, which, she insists, will no longer reside in "content" at all - not in the product, that is, of the originary genius. Nor will value reside in the producer of the content-the genius himself; nor even in the user of the content (Barthes's triumphant reader?). Rather, value will "lie in the relationships surrounding and nurturing the movement of content through networks of users and producers (182-4). What Dyson predicts is nothing less than the ultimate triumph of process over product, of networking over singularity. But-and you knew there was a "but" coming, didn't you-this shift in value has, as I've just been arguing, already been appropriated as the province of the entrepreneur corporation or conglomerate-the entity that will "own" the efforts of those who, to use Dyson's words, nurture "the movement of content through networks of users and producers." In short, this particular response to the complicated set of issues surrounding debates over intellectual property may well lead only to a new kind of "work for hire" or "piecework." We've been there, done that. So I am not optimistic about the potential of this second response.

We do have a third possibility, however: we can, as Nancy Miller suggests, try to articulate a new concept of authorship, one that rejects the naive construction of author as originary genius OR as entrepreneurial corporate entity, without diminishing the importance of agency, and of difference, to the lives of women worker/writers. (I might also mention many other scholars, of course, such as Judith Butler, who eschews the "prediscursive I" or sovereign subject of modernism as well as the deterministic view of discourse that precludes the possibility of human agency.) My own hope, actually, is for more than that. I hope that, working together, feminist rhetoricians can create, enact, and promote alternative forms of agency and ways of owning that would shift the focus from owning, to owning up; from rights and entitlements to responsibilities (the ability to respond) and answerability; from a sense of the self as radically individual to the self as always in relation; and from a view of agency as invested in and gained through the exchange of tidy knowledge packages to a view of agency as residing in what Susan West defines as the "unfolding action of a discourse; in the knowing and telling of the attentive rhetor/responder rather than in static original ideas."

Given the speed with which the traditional forms of ownership and intellectual property have been appropriated to global corporate and legal interests, however, such work is going to be exceedingly difficult. Nevertheless, I believe we have enactments, tracings of alternative forms of being and owning, available to us. If we intend to create what public policy analyst Milbray McLaughlin calls a "new public idea" about ownership/intellectual property, we will have to work together on a number of fronts, for such public ideas are hard to invoke. Today, I can only gesture toward some of the work we may draw on to make such a new public idea possible-work that aims to create a "new idea" in the discourse of corporations, of technology, of politics, of law, and of cultural (including literary) production.

Let me turn first to the lion's den of the corporate world, where we might least expect to find alternative models of ownership or intellectual property available. I am only just beginning to learn about some of the efforts being made, particularly by and on behalf of indigenous peoples' bioknowledge that has been ripped off so stunningly and successfully in recent years. But I have begun to learn of some firms trying to do business a new way: Shaman Pharmaceutical, Inc., a San Francisco-based firm, is publicly committed to sharing its profits with its "collaborators." [Our] "process is driven," they say, "by the science of ethnobotany, or how native peoples use plants. Shaman uses data provided by a network of ethnobotanists and physicians engaged in ongoing field research-in Africa, the South Pacific, Southeast Asia, and Central and South America-to provide initial direction. . . . Working with traditional healers of various rainforest cultures allows Shaman access to the largest in vivo laboratory in the world." ("Ethnobotany Accelerating Drug Discovery," Press Release from Shaman Pharmaceuticals, April, 1995, 2.) Significantly, I think, Shaman is committed to sharing profits with all those communities with which they work, not just the ones that yield a marketable product. Further, they say that compensation plans will be arrived at collaboratively-with the Healing Forest conservancy, a nonprofit foundation established by Shaman and representatives from communities Shaman works in-and that "payment" will include the support of land rights, "strengthening indigenous peoples' organizations and fostering communication. . . ; and promoting sustainable, ecologically sound development through local harvesting of products; and linking public health and welfare of indigenous cultures and tropical forests." (Stephen R. King and Thomas J. Carlson, "Biocultural Diversity, Biomedicine and Ethnobotany: The Experience of Shaman Pharmaceuticals," Interciencia 20 (May/June 1995): 135-39.)

The model of intellectual property-with its accompanying version of agency-is one radically different from the traditional white, male, Western paradigm, one that may offer a way to create a middle space between individual proprietary rights and the international public domain. In short, while I am not overly optimistic about corporate attempts at sharing, such a model may offer an alternative to the copyright regime founded on the notion of the solitary, sovereign, and proprietary author.

We can see similar if more modest attempts among members of the digerati like Esther Dyson, who gives away much of her "proprietary" knowledge as a way of gaining a wider audience for her views and of working collaboratively with others interested in the development of cyberspace. And she has some allies, among them Richard Stallman, one of the original MIT artificial intelligence hackers of the sixties. Stallman, known for his determined attempts to establish "copyleft," has founded the Free Software Foundation from which he sells-and gives away-his software. As he puts it, 'I develop free software. . . I do not necessarily distribute it for free. Free software is a matter of freedom, not price. Think of free speech, not free beer" (46). (Emily Benedek, "Steal This Program: Richard Stallman's Campaign to Liberate Software." Lingua Franca August 1997, 45 - 48) What this means is that Stallman "sells" his software (for about $60) to those who can pay for it; but once you have it, you can look at its source codes, figure out how the whole thing works, and modify it to meet your needs-and give it away to your friends. Need I say that Stallman is viewed as quirky if not mad by most of the computer industry, and that Dyson-who is somewhat more conservative-is also viewed with suspicion. But whether suspicious or not, their methods also open a space for a balance between protecting individual dignities and rights-especially those not protected by earlier regimes of intellectual property--and protecting the public good.

And finally, if those working at the heart of computer technology today are actually going to be able to articulate a new model of ownership/intellectual property (and I'm betting that Laura Gurak will be one of the persons to do so), they are going to need the help of groups like Spiderwoman, a nonpartisan, online international community of women web designers. This group, founded in 1995, has recently been in the news as vehemently protesting the "Technology Summit" held in May by Bill Gates. The 103 guests invited to the "summit" came from all over the world and represented a wide variety of companies. But, as Spiderwoman was quick to point out, they did NOT represent women. Out of the 103 participants, Spiderwoman could find only one woman, AutoDesk CEO Carol Bartz. When Microsoft insisted that there were many more women there-at least as many as three-Spiderwoman checked them out and found that one of these two other "many women"-"Mary Runyon" turned out to be Marvin Runyan.

In response, Spiderwoman-along with Webgrrls and Field of Dreams-is calling for a woman's technology summit to be held this fall, probably in the Bay Area: watch the spiderwoman site on amazon.com for details! (I wish that those convened at this woman's technology summit would take up the questions raised in Susan Jarratt's wonderfully provocative explanations of how people get arranged or disposed in space, and in this case how women's bodies get "disposed" as well as disposed of in virtual space. But that is probably too much to hope for. I think we should watch for the summit anyway.)

In the realm of legal practice and theory, which I have associated today primarily with the interests of Western corporate/entrepreneurism, we can also find a few people interrogating the link between copyright law and the "author construct" and searching for new ways to imagine the politics of ownership. Foremost among these I would name Pamela Samuelson, a member of the faculty of Berkeley's new School of Information Management and Systems and winner of one of this year's MacArthur awards. Even as she offers colleagues the codes she has developed for constructing the web site she teaches from at Berkeley-saying "Take my stuff, please!"-- Samuelson is careful to say that she is by no means trying to achieve a world in which everything is shared and/or free. Rather, she wants to work with people from Silicon Valley who are trying to develop new technology-and new business models-and help them reconfigure copyright laws to fit the new models. While she acknowledges the complexity of the current copyright situation, she says her goal is actually simple: "to see that copyright laws do not infringe on the sharing of knowledge in society." This goal may sound simple, but creating a new public idea from it will not be, even with women as formidably bright and determined as Pam Samuelson at work. Says John Perry Barlow, co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Pam has "stood up against the entire weight of the commercial legal world" (and I would add also in resistance to the male wild west frontier atmosphere of the digital world) in trying to find an articulation of copyright law that will balance individual agency and rights with public good and with freedom of information. (Maurice M. Krochmal, "Fighting the Copyright Wars." CyberTimes Extra June 28 1997. ; Http://wwwnytimes.com/library/cyber/week/062897/samuelson.html accessed 8/11/97.)

Another legal scholar who is helping to think through the thicket surrounding agency, ownership, and political action is Lani Guinier, professor of law at the University of Pennsylvania and Clinton's nominee for head of the Justice Department's civil rights division. I cannot do anything like justice to Guinier's elegant and complex envisioning of an agency beyond liberal individualism, one based on constantly shifting alliances and realliances, always in pursuit of more inclusive democratic possibilities. But I believe that the body of Guinier's work deserves a detailed and attentive reading from feminists and rhetoricians alike, particularly in terms of her (re)definition of authority. In an ingenious argument, Guinier steers a course between the individual and the group, between libertarian individualism and identity politics, situating authority in the connections a person makes among the discourses available to her and out of which can come what Guinier calls a "medley of component voices" that is singular and plural at the same time. These medleys or coalitions that are always momentary and shifting-and powerful. Though I know of no one who has pursued the possible connections between the work Samuelson is doing to (re)envision copyright and the both/and view of authority and voice articulated by Guinier, some immediate compatibilities seem apparent to me-and both offer to help create a new public idea about what it means to own and use language, about what it means to exercise agency far beyond the sphere of the radical individual self, about what it can and should mean, in Jackie Royster's words, to operate ethically in a common space.

Finally, I want to call attention to the many women who are refiguring notions of textual production and ownership. Lisa and Cheryl and I wrote about some of these women in an essay published last year in Rhetorica, in which we attempted to trace some of the (many) reciprocities between rhetoric and feminism and to name some of the ways in which women are literally rewriting the "rules" of rhetoric. You are familiar, I know, with many of the women's collectives around the country, with Jackie Royster and Shirley Logan's work on the models of shared linguistic power and collaboration embodied in the work of many nineteenth-century African American Women, and with Anne Gere's work on women's clubs, groups that often understood "property" and language use in ways far different from those enshrined in the copyright tradition. Today I want to focus on one particular woman, Gloria Anzaldúa, whose "borderlands" have been everywhere apparent during this provocative and energizing conference. Again, I cannot do justice to Anzaldúa's complex-and often, I think, conflicting-views on ownership, on intellectual property, here today. But I would like to share with you some of the things she said in a recent conversation I had with her about the issues I've been talking about today.

Let me begin with Anzaldúa's response to a question I asked about metaphors for writing. Without a pause, she said "ah, my composition theme; you know, compustura used to mean being a seamstress. [To me] compustura means seaming together fragments to make a garment you wear, which represents you, your identity in the world. It is stitched together from "what's out there, what the culture and others give you, what you can take and use.

This notion of writing, of language use, as a stitching, a seaming together of a garment (and we recognize here echoes of Anzaldúa's intricate discussions of making face/making soul) that is taken from "what is out there" and that is thus both yours and not yours seems to me to be very much in the spirit of what scholars like Guinier and Samuelson--and sometimes groups like Spiderwoman--are after. The result of such a refiguration would be to open up what Susan West calls the "authordoxy" to multiple voices, not just to those who are authorized to speak/write/be heard, and thus to enlarge and enrich the conversation for all and, incidentally, to refigure literacy as the ability to respond to a conversation already and always ongoing in a way that "invites the participation of others" (West, 190). Anzaldúa's stinging critique of traditional literacy education and her own commitment to giving voice to multiple positionalities as well as to women's voices that have been muted or ignored indicates that she is already participating in such a refiguration.

Certainly much if not all of Anzaldúa's work seems to me to be highly collaborative, shared and stitched together in very powerful ways, and so I asked her about this aspect of her knowledge-making and writing. She talked first about the children's books she has written and about her collaboration with artists: "Well, at first it wasn't quite a straight collaboration, because I did the text first and then I gave it to the artist. But now I am doing a project for a middle-school girl readership, and there I will be working with the artist. But I also think that there is no such thing as a single author. I write my texts, but I borrow the ideas and images from other people. Sometimes I forget that I've borrowed them. I might read some phrase from a poem or fiction, and I like the way it describes the cold. Years and years go by, and I do something similar with my description, but I've forgotten that I've gotten it somewhere else. Then I show my text in draft form to a lot of people for feed-back: that's another level of co-creating with somebody. Then my readers do the same thing. They put all of their experience into the text and they change Borderlands into many different texts. It's different for every reader. It's not mine anymore."

"Does that feel OK to you?" I couldn't help asking. "You don't feel possessive about your writing as your "property?" "No, I don't" came her response: "I've always felt that way about writing. I do the composing, but it's taken from little mosaics of other people's lives, other people's perceptions. I take all of these pieces and rearrange them. When I'm writing I always have the company of the reader. Sometimes I'm writing with my friends in mind, and sometimes for people like you who teach writing. In writing, I'm just talking with you without your being here. This is where style comes in. Style is my relationship with you, how I decide what register of language to use, how much Spanglish, how much vernacular. It's all done in the company of others, while in solitude--which is a contradiction."

Later in the conversation, Anzaldúa shifted the topic to "authority," saying "When you get into reading and writing the "other," into assuming some kind of authority for the "other"--whether you are the "other" or you are the subject--there's a community involved.

There's a responsibility that comes with invoking cultural and critical authority, and I think you could call that responsibility being open to activism and being responsible for your actions. No?"

In this last statement, Anzaldúa sums up for me the challenge facing feminists and rhetoricians today. How can we help to create a model of writing and ownership that encompasses both the subject and the larger community Anzaldúa speaks of? How can we best help to create a new public idea about intellectual property and the "ownership" of language? If we cannot do so, if we cannot create coalitions, shifting alliances with sisters and brothers in the corporate, legal, technological, political, and cultural spheres, I am convinced that we are headed toward a 21st century thoroughly imbued with destructive radical individualism and hypercompetition, with definitions of knowledge and language as commodities to be owned, bought, and sold, and with representations of human agency as limited and narrow, and as excluding irrevocably alternative forms of subjectivity and alternative modes of ownership. But I am not entirely pessimistic, because of the good and encouraging work toward a new public idea I have described here, and especially because of the potential for new alliances among feminists and rhetoricians committed to the kind of responsible activism Anzaldúa calls for. (Note that I have not talked about creating a new public idea in the educational/pedagogical world. That's precisely what I hope we can turn to in the discussion period following this talk. In the meantime, thank you for being here. Thank you for helping me to think about new ways to imagine intellectual property and ownership. Thank you especially to Oregon State and to the conference organizers for giving us the time and space to think, to inhabit these borderlands, for at least a time, together.









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