Art book put on hold after row over ideas

September 22, 2006

Publication of a new book in a popular series on Irish studies has been put on hold amid allegations that the author based the work on the ideas of a former PhD student in his department.

Michael Pinfold, a film studies lecturer at Gloucestershire University, insisted the book was all his own work. But he said this week that he would properly acknowledge early conceptual input from Brian Curtin, his former student, for the book, Irish Masculinity and Neo-Expressionist Painting .

An e-mail seen by The Times Higher confirms that the book's publisher, Edwin Mellen Press in Wales, has resolved not to publish the book until a dispute between Dr Curtin and Mr Pinfold about credit is resolved.

Dr Curtin was a PhD student at Gloucestershire in 2000. He claims that he approached Mr Pinfold, who was one of his PhD advisers, with his idea for a book on Irish painting. Dr Curtin proposed submitting the idea for a co-authored work to Edwin Mellen Press to be published in its series Ireland in Theory.

A joint contract naming both Dr Curtin and Mr Pinfold was signed with the publisher to produce a co-authored book. to be called Neo-Expressionism and Irish Identity , by autumn 2002.

Dr Curtin's original proposal document, seen by The Times Higher , has a heavy emphasis on Irish masculinity in Irish painting, a theme developed in Mr Pinfold's subsequent sole-authored work, Irish Masculinity and Neo-Expressionist Painting .

Dr Curtin, on completing his PhD, insists that he fulfilled "his side of the bargain" under the contractual terms by providing Mr Pinfold with research. He said that he carried out research in the archives of the National College of Art and Design in Dublin, arranged interviews and provided analyses of articles he had collected before taking up a teaching post in Bangkok.

However, the date for submitting the work passed and the contract was cancelled.

Dr Curtin said that he subsequently heard that Mr Pinfold had signed a new contract to write a similar book alone.

Mr Pinfold told The Times Higher : "Brian Curtin has no claim to the production of the text Irish Masculinity and Neo-Expressionist Painting .

This has always been solely contracted to me, and all research and writing has been carried out by me.

"The earlier text to which you refer was jointly contracted to Brian Curtin and myself. The contract expired with no text having been produced by Dr Curtin. He did assist in putting together the initial joint proposal, and this I am happy to acknowledge. Beyond that, his input has been zero."

Mr Pinfold, who also received a £5,000 grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council for his solo project in July 2003, said the original joint concept had changed significantly. He had no knowledge of the book being put on hold.

Iona Williams, manager of Edwin Mellon Press, said: "This has got nothing to do with you."

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