Evolutionary Plagiarism: Tracing Dissemination Pathways in 19th Century Reprints


UCREL Corpus Research Seminar


4 December 2014




University of Lancaster


In the late-Georgian period, Scotland witnesses exponential growth in its newspaper industry. From a handful of eighteenth-century periodicals, the press expanded rapidly into the industrial and market towns of Scotland, hoping to supply a growing demand for international, domestic and local news and human interest stories. One of many avenues for procuring this content was the expanding press of North America. Owing to limited, ambiguous and unenforceable copyright legislation on both continents, a culture of reprinting allowed a rich tapestry of North American life to be woven in the British public consciousness. This repurposing, however, was far from transparent in its dissemination or evolution. In the absence of robust business or personal records detailing the selection and framing of such content in various locations, linguistic analysis of these reprinted texts can provide intriguing insights into the rationales behind reprinting, repurposing and recompiling descriptions of North America throughout the Anglophone world. This paper will discuss the opportunities and difficulties of reprint analyses of late-Georgian newspapers and present a number of case studies for the development of computer-aided methodologies in tracing dissemination pathways.


**Image Courtesy of Jisc infoNet

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