Professor Laura Murray

Professor Laura Murray

PhD Cornell

On leave 1 January–30 June 2015

Contact Information

Office: Watson 534
Office Hours:
Extension: 74438

Research Interests

Primary: Copyright law and theory; American literature, media, and popular culture, especially before the Civil War; history of the book and the newspaper; history of reading; creative economies. Secondary: Literature of exploration and colonization, Indigenous literature and culture. Overall: Interdisciplinary methodologies, pedagogy, nonacademic presentation of research.

Recent Publications

  • Canadian Copyright: A Citizen’s Guide, with Samuel E. Trosow, 2nd ed (Toronto: Between the Lines, 2013).
  • Putting Intellectual Property in its Place: Rights Discourses, Creative Labor, and the Everyday, with S. Tina Piper and Kirsty Robertson (NY: Oxford UP, forthcoming 2013).
  • “Reading New York Dailies Against the Grain: The Case of Almira C. Loveland,” Mémoires du Livre/Studies in Book Culture 3.2 (2012) <read online>.


Putting Intellectual Property in its Place: Rights Discourses, Creative Labour, and the Everyday shows how creative communities are regulated more through practice than through rules; it proceeds through a collection of case studies, of which mine concern newspapers in antebellum United States and visual artists in present-day Kingston, Ontario. In the wake of major legal reform and Supreme Court cases, a second edition of Canadian Copyright: A Citizen’s Guide was appropriate. A project on the changing iconography of the newspaper in US from the eighteenth century on is in the early stages of gestation. My research methods include interviewing, archival work, and internet browsing as well as reading and rereading a range of kinds of texts (literary, policy, etc.); theoretically I am engaged at present with ideas of alienated and affective labour as they pertain to artistic production and community life; theories of community and creativity as inflected by medium, class, gender, and place; theories of reading; and (always!) theories of ideology.

I teach the core course on methodology in the Cultural Studies graduate program—a big and welcome challenge. I have also greatly enjoyed being one of the pioneers of a new first year undergrad course, ENGL100, Introduction to Literary Study, which I look forward to continuing to develop further over the coming years. I get to recite poetry and untangle complicated plots in the service of demonstrating the value of literature and literary criticism to 18 year olds. It's difficult but I like it.

I am interested in supervising graduate students in English or Cultural Studies with aspirations to rigorous interdisciplinarity, whether working in nineteenth-century US contexts, twentieth-century Indigenous or immigrant cultural production, or present-day policy and theory. If you have thoughts of reading court cases through Bakhtin or talking about poetry to a parliamentary committee, you might like working with me. Over the years, I have been lucky to be able to hire research assistants from Law, Psychology, and Cultural Studies in addition to English, and the tutorial structure of ENGL100 has provided a welcome opportunity to work in a teaching team with graduate students.

I serve on Kingston’s Municipal Heritage Committee and its Communications and Education Working Group, and with Jamie Swift I have developed walking tours of working-class, postindustrial, and immigrant Kingston. I am a member of the Swamp Ward Orchestra, which performs nationally and released its second full-length CD, Tightrope, in 2012.

Additional vita information: Joyce Tracy Fellow, American Antiquarian Society, Worcester Massachusetts, summer 2010; Fulbright Visiting Research Chair, Law & Society, New York University, 2006–7; Visiting Professor of Canadian Studies, Kwansei Gakuin University, Nishinomiya, Japan, 2003–4. Editorial Board, Early American Literature, 2008–2010. W. J. Barnes Teaching Excellence Award, 2002–3. Founder and author,, 2003–2010. Editor, To Do Good to My Indian Brethren: The Writings of Joseph Johnson, 1751–1776 (U of Massachusetts P, 1998); co-editor with Keren Rice, Talking on the Page: Editing Aboriginal Oral Texts (U of Toronto P, 1999).