Crises of Meaning in Communities of Creative Appropriation

A Case Study of the 2010 RE/Mixed Media Festival

Authored by: Tom Tenney

The Routledge Companion to Remix Studies

Print publication date:  December  2014
Online publication date:  November  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415716253
eBook ISBN: 9781315879994
Adobe ISBN: 9781134748747


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On February 27 2010, The New York Times published a piece called “The Free-Appropriation Writer,” in which Randy Kennedy reported on the controversy over German novelist Helene Hegemann’s alleged plagiarism, and questioned whether her use of another writer’s work in her novel was theft or an allowable form of “sampling” or “remix.” Kennedy defined the modernist concept of the creative writer as one of “the individual trying to wrestle language, maybe even the meaning of life, from his [sic] soul,” and asked readers to use this ideal while judging the young novelist’s actions. Only after she was caught did Hegemann defend her appropriation as “remix”; however, she seemed to be portrayed in the article as a spokesperson for remix culture. Kennedy drew parallels between Hegemann and David Shields (whose masterwork of creative appropriation, Reality Hunger, had been released only three days earlier), placing them together on the same side of the “battle lines” between “a culture of borrowing and appropriation on one side and, on the other, copyright advocates and those who fear a steady erosion of creative protections.” 1

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