Genette plays with many kinds of elements that surround a text.  But his cartegories seem pretty broad.  I guess I see titles, illustrations, dust covers, typefaces, author interviews, book awards, author age and gender, and prefaces as disparate elements which also tend to act differently within each application.  What can we say about these different animals that really connects them together?  Genette argues that the connection is materiality: we define paratexts by their relation (spatial, temporal, substantial, pragmatic and functional) to texts.  That seems a bit circular.

All these paratexts do raise interesting questions about authorship—at least about professional authorship and maybe also some secondary sense of “corporate” authorship that involves actual corporations.  But direct evidence of actual, shared authorship feels like much more fertile ground to me.  Examples:

1) Produced screenplays are credited; but, their practical authorship is often hopelessly confused, and it often directly reflects power relations.  More broadly, every movie is a collaborate enterprise with arguably dozens of “authors.”  

2) As a young lawyer, I wrote documents every week that were signed by my bosses or clients.  More broadly, all legal advisers (and consultants, and PR reps and ad agencies) write texts that are presented as authored by their clients.  

So evidence of these complex forms of authorship would lie in the artifacts of the processes of their creation: edited drafts, option agreements, executive comments, assignment memos, discarded choices, living memory.  Are these  artifacts of creation also paratexts? Genette might call them “anterior paratexts,” although they don’t seem to me to fit well as either peritexts or epitexts.  Could it be a useful difference if we thought of them as pre-texts?  pro-texts? proto-texts? 

I note that college English Departments and writing programs are often pretty far out of step with the real world practices of corporate authorship.  We write most articles and books alone because we want academic credit.  We often demand that our students write alone, producing single author research papers, proposals, blogs (like this one) and journals; often those requirements also relate to parsing out academic credit. 

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