Revolution Lullabye

May 18, 2009

Donahue, When Copying Is Not Copying

Donahue, Christiane. “When Copying Is Not Copying: Plagiarism and French Composition Scholarship.” In Originality, Imitation, and Plagiarism. Eds. Eisner and Vicinus. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 2008. 90-103.

Donahue describes the differences between how American and French writing teachers address the use of sources in writing. While American writing teachers focus on plagiarism and its punitive threats, the French educational system, which sees a deep connection between reading and writing, encourages students to play with other texts, borrowing, quoting, and imitating them without citation. Citation practices are not taught until late in the undergraduate or in the graduate years, as it is discipline-specific. Donahue argues that American teachers of writing should adopt this open, educational attitude of the French, which focuses on teaching students to manage many voices in their papers.

Quotable Quotes

“Effective quoting and citing are treated, in the scholarship, as an art; the goal is working from an author-based world (an author’s text, words, ideas) toward one’s own” (97).

French students are encouraged “to enter into relationships of equality and play with other texts, and that this leads them to a different understanding of the already-said” (91).

Copying: “a complex and culturally defined intellectual action, Bakhtinian to the core” (99).

Think about mentoring students into a discipline “rather than the moralistic, legalistic, or otherwise shame-filled act we like to call plagiarism” (100)

Notable Notes

French discourage paraphrase (Donahue argues that this distaste should be reconsidered.) Grounded in an aesthetic tradition, they don’t like “dilution” of the original text. French students are taught to summarize nonliterary text but to keep key phrases and frames, quote without quotation marks or citation

polyphonic writing (very Bakhtin) – it is difficult for students to figure out how to insert their voice in the mix

think about imitation as translation

paraphrase as reprise-modification, very dynamic becuase an utterance always changes when uttered

gives examples of student papers


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