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The Second and Third Enclosures

The Second and Third Enclosures

Lewis Hyde, Berkman Fellow

Tuesday, June 9, 12:30 pm
Berkman Center, 23 Everett Street, second floor
RSVP required for those attending in person (
This event will be webcast live at 12:30 pm ET.

It has become customary to frame much recent intellectual property law as a kind of “second enclosure” in which “the commons of the mind” have been converted into private preserves where the right to exclude regularly trumps what we used to think were our common cultural use rights.   

In his lunchtime talk, Lewis Hyde will trace the roots of the second enclosure (it goes back at least to the invention of printing); he will describe traditional forms of resistance (such as the useful old custom of “beating the bounds”); and he will outline what he takes to be the “third enclosure,” the many ways in which market forces now capture not just known cultural commons but the unknown as well, the uncharted wilderness of nature, the wilderness of the human mind, and even the wilderness of the internet.  

About Lewis

Lewis Hyde is a poet, essayist, translator, and cultural critic with a particular interest in the public life of the imagination. His 1983 book, The Gift, illuminates and defends the non-commercial portion of artistic practice. Trickster Makes This World (1998) uses a group of ancient myths to argue for the kind of disruptive intelligence all cultures need if they are to remain lively, flexible, and open to change. Hyde is currently at work on a book about our “cultural commons,” that vast store of ideas, inventions, and works of art that we have inherited from the past and continue to produce.

A MacArthur Fellow and former director of undergraduate creative writing at Harvard University, Hyde teaches during the fall semesters at Kenyon College, where he is the Richard L. Thomas Professor of Creative Writing. During the rest of the year he lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he is a Fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society.


Download media from this event here.

Past Event
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
12:30 PM - 1:30 PM

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