Today, copyright is everywhere, surrounded by a thicket of no-trespassing signs that mark creative work as private property. Caren Irr’s Pink Pirates asks how contemporary novelists—represented by Ursula Le Guin, Andrea Barrett, Kathy Acker, and Leslie Marmon Silko—have read those signs, arguing that for feminist writers in particular copyright often conjures up the persistent exclusion of women from ownership. Bringing together voices from law schools, courtrooms, and the writer's desk, Irr shows how some of the most inventive contemporary feminist novelists have reacted to this history.
Explaining the complex, three-century lineage of Anglo-American copyright law in clear, accessible terms and wrestling with some of its most deeply rooted assumptions, Irr sets the stage for a feminist reappraisal of the figure of the literary pirate in the late twentieth century—a figure outside the restrictive bounds of U.S. copyright statutes. Whether illuminating the gendered problem of intellectual property or providing smart, meticulous, well-versed discussions of contemporary literary work, Irr presents a comprehensive and convincing argument for the salience of pink piracy.
Going beyond her readings of contemporary women authors, Irr’s exhaustive history of how women have fared under intellectual property regimes speaks to broader political, social, and economic implications and engages digital-era excitement about the commons with the most utopian and materialist strains in feminist criticism.
“Irr brings together compelling readings of contemporary American women writers, controversies over copyright, and feminist theory; it is also an impressive review and analysis of intellectual property law over the past two centuries. The readings of Le Guin, Barrett, Acker, and Silko are smart, meticulously well versed in the secondary literature, and largely successful. Her argument is entirely convincing and the book is learned, lively, smart, and timely and should appeal to a wide array of readers in literary studies, law, and the general public.”—Michael Bérubé, author, The Left at War
“Caren Irr's clever readings of intellectual property cases and fictional texts expose the complexity of copyright, what it means not only legally but also metaphorically. By examining how women writers have grappled with the concept and significance of ownership, Irr reveals their feminist critiques of market logic and their endorsement of what she calls ‘positive piracy.’ Pink Pirates’s creative, interdisciplinary approach gave me new ways of thinking about motherhood, sexual pleasure, domesticity, and the commons.”—Alison Piepmeier, author, Girl Zines: Making Media, Doing Feminism