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Gregory Steirer
Dickinson College (Carlisle, PA 17013-2896)
Intellectual Property Law and the History of the Narrative-Based Franchise

Completion of a book-length study of the impact of intellectual property law on narrative-based franchises in film, television, and other media.

Over the last decade, the narrative-based franchise has come to be seen as one of the twentieth-first century’s paradigmatic storytelling forms. Narrative Inc. argues that in order to understand the significance of this form, we must situate it within the practice of intellectual property law. This project thus offers a dual history of narrative-based franchise production and intellectual property law in the United States, beginning in the early twentieth century and ending in the present-day. Arguing that changes in the franchise and the law have been mutually constitutive, each simultaneously the product and cause of the other, I trace how the logic of the franchise as a narrative form has changed in tandem with that of copyright, trademark, and unfair competition law. Narrative Inc. focuses on a series of specific franchises, demonstrating how their production was bound up—often quite literally through lawsuits—with the discourse and practice of intellectual property law.

[Grant products]

Project fields:
Law and Jurisprudence; Literature, Other; Media Studies

Fellowships for University Teachers

Research Programs

$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/2017 – 6/30/2018