The daw and the honeybee: Situating metaphors for originality and authorial labor in the 1728 Chambers' Cyclopædia

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Abstract

This article examines natural metaphors for authorship and ownership in the 1728 Chambers's Cyclopædia, an influential precursor to and source for today's encyclopedias. Carefully situating Chambers's chosen metaphors of the honeybee and the daw within both historical and genre contexts reveals important nuances of authorial originality in reference texts that are most often understood as explicitly non-original and uncreative. His decisions concerning intellectual property were driven by his understanding of the transformative aspects of encyclopedic authorship and his ethical positioning of the encyclopedist as a gatherer and distributor of knowledge. His use of the honeybee as a metaphor for encyclopedic authorship demonstrates a rhetorical astuteness that draws from England's rich apiary tradition as well as deeply British symbolism that positioned the honeybee as royal, moral, and virtuous. Taken together, Chambers's argument demonstrates the need for careful attention to situated, historical factors in discussions of authorship and ownership.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)35-58
Number of pages24
JournalCollege English
Volume76
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 1 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics

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