Tuesday, June 29, 12:30 pm Berkman Center, 23 Everett Street, second floor
Lewis Hyde's talk will be drawn from a book he has just finished, Common as Air: Revolution, Art, and Ownership. One thesis of the book is that the founding generation in the United States hoped to establish a cultural commons of art and ideas, a lively public domain of created works that all of us use because nobody controls it. What has become apparent in recent years is that the founders did not leave us with any good way to protect this commons. The public domain has turned out to be highly vulnerable to private capture. How might this vulnerability be reduced? How might an unguarded public domain be converted into a rule-governed and thus durable cultural commons?
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.