Amazons, Witches, and Critics – A Liberated Novelist Asks, “Now What?”
Brad Abruzzi, Berkman Center Fellow
Tuesday, July 31, 12:30 pm
Room 1019, Wasserstein Hall, Harvard Law School
How does an author find readers? In the olden days, a writer hoped to catch the eye of an aristocratic patron who might supply a well-placed word of endorsement. The Gutenberg press wrested authors free from this feudal condition, only transfer writers' indenture to publishers, who by owning the means of [re]production acquired the final say regarding what volumes would and would not land on store shelves. This gatekeeping privilege of publishers largely survives to this day, and depending on how well you think they do the work, we might celebrate publishers as Stewards of Culture or lament the state of a Literature Held Hostage.
Now digital media and the Internet propose to devolve the means of [re]production upon authors themselves. Any would-be novelist can flog his work in a digital format over Amazon KDP, Smashwords, and other open outlets for textual works.
Berkman Fellow and practicing university attorney Brad Abruzzi is one of those would-be novelists. Ten weeks ago, without any word of encouragement or assent from Big Publishing, Brad released his novel, New Jersey's Famous Turnpike Witch, on Amazon. And now, for Brad, the age-old question recurs: where are my readers? On Tuesday, July 31, Brad will lead a discussion about self-publication, author independence, and the prospects for a literary culture fostered by reader criticism, rather than publishers' whims.
Brad Abruzzi is an attorney in the Office of the General Counsel at MIT. Brad graduated cum laude from Harvard Law School in 2001, where he served as Executive Editor of the Harvard Law Review and published a note on Internet and digital media’s promise for reorientation of the author/publisher/reader relationship.
A former law clerk to The Honorable Nancy Gertner in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts, Brad joined the Harvard OGC in 2005 and moved from there to MIT in 2012.
Although Brad’s primary focus at Berkman has been on uncertainty in copyright law and its implications for free speech and online self-publication, at present he is drafting an article that questions the legal basis for the Supreme Court’s deferential review of congressional enactments under the Constitution’s “Intellectual Property Clause.” Brad is also interested in exploring the extent to which provisions of state law may protect online expression from private censors.
Brad also holds M.A. (New York University, 1998) and A.B. (Princeton University, 1995) degrees in English literature.