Open Networks, Distributed Identities: Cory Doctorow and the Literature of Free Culture

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Philip Leonard


Drawing upon cultural theoretical work on free and open source software and on network cultures, this article considers how Cory Doctorow’s fiction provides a fictional cartography of the obsessions, anxieties, and opportunities that have come to preoccupy digital culture in the 2000s. However, in contrast with the now-familiar notion that the distributed networks are allowing a smooth entry into inclusive informational communities, this essay will claim that Doctorow’s fiction dramatises the emergence of alternative models of subjectivity and social belonging which function as a protest to the proprietary systems that govern the consumption, cultural location, and communication of information.

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Author Biography

Philip Leonard, Nottingham Trent University, Literary Studies and Critical Theory

Dr Philip Leonard is Reader in Literary Studies and Critical Theory at Nottingham Trent University. He is the author of Nationality between Poststructuralism and Postcolonial Theory: A New Cosmopolitanism (Palgrave Macmillan, 2005), and co-editor of the the journal Writing Technologies. He is currently writing Literature after Globalization: Text, Technology, and the Nation-State, which is due to be published by Continuum in 2013.