Common as Air

Revolution, Art, and Ownership by Lewis Hyde

  • Published: Aug 12, 2020

Common as Air offers a stirring defense of our cultural commons, that vast store of art and ideas we have inherited from the past that continues to enrich our present. Suspicious of the current idea that all creative work is "intellectual... read more

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Details of Common as Air

Exact title of the book
Common as Air
Book author
Lewis Hyde
ISBN
9781429979641
Publisher
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Published
Aug 17, 2010
Language
English
Format
PDF, FB2, EPUB, MOBI
Pages
320
File size (in PDF)
2880 kB

Some brief overview of book

Common as Air offers a stirring defense of our cultural commons, that vast store of art and ideas we have inherited from the past that continues to enrich our present. Suspicious of the current idea that all creative work is "intellectual property," Lewis Hyde turns to America's founding fathersmen like John Adams, James Madison, and Thomas Jeffersonin search of other ways to value the fruits of human wit and imagination. What he discovers is a rich tradition in which knowledge was assumed to be a commonwealth, not a private preserve.

For the founding fathers, democratic self-governance itself demanded open and easy access to ideas. So did the growth of creative communities, such as that of eighteenth-century science. And so did the flourishing of public persons, the very actors whose "civic virtue" brought the nation into being.

In this lively, carefully argued, and well-documented book, Hyde brings the past to bear on present matters, shedding fresh light on everything from the Human Genome Project to Bob Dylan's musical roots. Common as Air allows us to stand on the shoulders of America's revolutionary giants and to see beyond today's narrow debates over cultural ownership. What it reveals is nothing less than an inspiring vision of how to reclaim the commonwealth of art and ideas that we were meant to inherit.

About author

Hyde is the author of The Gift Imagination and the Erotic Life of Property, This Error Is the Sign of Love, and Trickster Makes This World Mischief, Myth, and Art (FSG, 1998). 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 faculty associate at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society.

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