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Grant number: AQ-51006-14

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AQ-51006-14

Tulane University (New Orleans, LA 70118-5698)
Stephanie Porras (Project Director: 09/13/2013 to present)

NEH Enduring Questions Course on Conceptions of Authenticity and Originality

The development of an undergraduate honors colloquium on conceptions of authenticity and originality as debated in literature, music, philosophy, art, and the sciences.

The development of an undergraduate honors colloquium on conceptions of authenticity and originality as debated in literature, music, philosophy, art, and the sciences. Stephanie Porras, assistant professor of art history at Tulane University, develops a course that draws on legal, ethical, and technological issues alongside historical analysis and philosophical debate to explore the question, What is a copy? The first unit, Technology of the Copy, considers the history of reproduction from the invention of print, photography, digital duplication, and three-dimensional molds to gene sequencing. Readings include Elizabeth Eisenstein's The Printing Press as an Agent of Change, Paul Craddock's Scientific Investigation of Copies, Hillel Schwartz's The Culture of the Copy, Erasmus on printed books, Rainer Maria Rilke on Auguste Rodin's bronzes, and Jorge Luis Borges's "The Circular Ruins." The second unit, Copy/Original, explores philosophical views on copying, cognition, and being. Readings include extracts from Plato, Aristotle, Bacon, Leibniz, Kant, Heidegger, Benjamin, and Marcus Boon. These theoretical perspectives are then integrated into discussions of aesthetic theory, anthropology, and psychology, thus providing a rich array of conceptual and critical vocabulary for students. Additional readings include Coleridge's On Poesy or Art; Freud's Totem and Taboo; Girard's Deceit, Desire and the Novel; and Michael Taussig's Mimesis and Alterity. The third unit, Copies and Authorship, focuses on debates about innovation, originality, and artistic ownership. Topics include Dürer's ideas about copy and invention, sixth-century Chinese art theory, Brahms' defense of his first symphony, Arthur Danto on Warhol, and Gus van Sant's remake of Psycho. Readings include Forrest and Koos's Dead Ringers: The Remake in Theory and Practice; Jacques Derrida's Copy, Archive, Signature; Marvin Carlson's The Haunted Stage: The Theater as Memory Machine; and David Evans's Appropriation. The final unit, Appropriation, Depropriation and Theft, focuses on ethical, legal, and political ramifications of the copy. Students stage mock trials of recent high profile cases in plagiarism, forgery, and patent litigation. They read sections from Richard Posner's The Little Book of Plagiarism, Siva Vaidhyanathan's Copyrights and Copywrongs, and Howard Brody's Future of Bioethics. Films screened for the course include Banksy's 2010 Exit Through the Gift Shop, the Hong Kong film Infernal Affairs and its remake The Departed, and the documentary Good Copy, Bad Copy. Students create a course wiki and write a detailed analysis of a copy that they own.

[Grant products]

Project fields:
Interdisciplinary Studies, General

Program:
Enduring Questions: Pilot Course Grants

Division:
Education Programs

Total amounts:
$20,234 (approved)
$18,651 (awarded)

Grant period:
5/1/2014 – 6/30/2016