Revolution Lullabye

May 20, 2009

Senders, Academic Plagiarism and the Limits of Theft

Senders, Stefan. “Academic Plagiarism and the Limits of Theft.” In Originality, Imitation, and Plagiarism: Teaching Writing in the Digital Age. Eds. Eisner and Vicinus. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 2008. 195-207.

Senders argues that accusations of plagiarism by the teacher can have a pedagogical effect in the writing classroom. He gives an example of a student who he caught copying passages from internet sources and follows the story from his initial reading of her paper to her university hearing, when she was temporarily expelled from the university. He claims that, though painful, this  experience had a positive impact on his relationship with his students in his classroom, because he took the opportunity to teach them how plagiarism positions both teachers and students as actors and shapes the identities and relationships of students and instructors.

Quotable Quotes

“This disjuncture between the students’ misperception of their own ‘voices,’ specifically that they do not have them, and the perception of readers of their work, who perceive those voices clearly, suggests a kind of rhetorical self-negation, almost a blindness with respect to authorial self. Student plagiarism, from this perspective, might best be seen as a dysfunctional manifestation of a psychorhetorical disorder, a kind of displacement, a failure of identification in which the literary self is absent or unavailable” (200)

Notable Notes

students don’t think plagiarism is stealing because they’re not really stealing something tangible, something they keep: they are stealing credit.

he doesn’t really buy into the whole student-is-learning thing; his attitude is a bit more cynical, pessamistic, slightly angry about these students who are committing acts of plagiarism in his class

the student he accused became a writer in the process – drafting her appeal, conferencing about it – the irony

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