Revolution Lullabye

February 15, 2009

Marsh, Plagiarism: Alchemy and Remedy in Higher Education

Marsh, Bill. Plagiarism: Alchemy and Remedy in Higher Education. Albany, SUNY Press, 2007.

Instead of focusing on student motivation for plagiarism, this book looks at student plagiarism in higher education from a broader historical and theoretical perspective, investigating the evolution and ideologies of plagiarism prevention and internet-based plagiarism detection software. These software systems simultaneously cling to a model of authorship, reading, and writing that does not take into account the networked literacies and composing practices of today’s students and use these literacies and practices to detect improper source use by copying, scanning, and keeping student texts for their own profit. Both plagiarism and plagiarism detection are authoring activities with particular perspectives, with software detection services operating out of disciplinary, power, rehabilitation, control, and enforcement motives (43). The networked computer challenges these assumptions and calls for a new way of thinking about student research, writing, and reading.

Quotable Quotes

Plagiarism detection services “already use remediation techniques to produce student texts toward the formulation of safe, healthy, and legitmate writing subjects. In today’s institutions of higher learning, the time may have come to turn those techniques around – literally and figuratively – to better serve today’s post-media, multimodal learners” (156)

“I approach the plagiarism problem as an instance of social and political contestion mader real in the micromechanisms of composition pedagogy, intellectual property law, and, more recently, computer technology” (7)

The new media composer has new conventions and techniques that “revamp or remediate a range of authoring practices not altogether lost in our new media age” (148)

“Plagiarism detection services promise more generally to correct, or right, errant information flows while also teaching the prevailing lessons of modern authorship and intellectual property in the digital age” (4).

Notable Notes

The software which reads for “high-value” words remediates reading practices and calls to mind alchemy, “a new methodology for determining (reading for) authorial orginality.” Through ordering information, it orders human beings. (151)

Chapters

Chapter 1: plagiarism scandals of Stephen Ambrose and Doris Kearns Goodwin, compare to how student plagiarizers who don’t have power are treated.
Chapter 2: definitions of plagiarism as failed authorship and the stealing of intellectual property; plagiarism detection software as a form of social control, 2 wrongs of plagiarism: stealing property and appropriating authorial originality
Chapter 3: early 20th century plagiarism prevention and management of student writing, 1913 U of Minnesota instructions
Chapter 4: Renaissance understandings of plagiarism through metaphors of alchemy and literary change
Chapter 5: inadequacy of handbooks to teach techniques for avoiding plagiarism because they rely on genre and insider knowledge
Chapter 6: inquiry as essential to late 20th century composition pedagogy, Ballenger’s research paper, influcenced by Montaigne
Chapter 7: internet plagiarism detection services (4 of them), how they regulate student writing and draw upon the alchemical, rhetorical, and legal traditions of plagiarism prevention
Chapter 8: how this all plays out with the networked internet and computer as a compositional tool

Research paper: contradictary because it requires students to create something original in an exercise that requires them to recognize the originality of other authors and to cite it in their papers. (88)

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