Revolution Lullabye

May 25, 2009

Valentine, Plagiarism as Literacy Practice

Valentine, Kathryn. “Plagiarism as Literacy Practice: Recognizing and Rethinking Ethical Binaries.” CCC 58.1 (Sept 2006): 89-109.

Plagiarism needs to be understood and treated more broadly as a literacy practice rather than a black-and-white ethical binary, for the ethical lens through which we talk about plagiarism casts our students’ identities in particular ways they cannot dictate and does not validate certain kinds of student writing and work. Valentine uses an extended example of Lin, a 3rd year international PhD student who was accused of (and admitted to) plagiarism on a literature review. Valentine sees his lack of citation and original argument not as a criminal, unethical, and dishonest act, but rather as a an unawareness of American graduate education citation and literacy expectations. It is important to see the bigger picture teach plagiarism, then, not just as an ethical problem – one in which all students are in danger of being dishonest – but as a negotiation of cultural and social contexts and literacy practices.

Quotable Quotes

“Plagiarism is a literacy practice…something that people do with reading and writing” (89).

“Plagiarism becomes plagiarism as a part of a practice that involves participants’ values, attitudes, and feelings as well as their social relationships to each other and to the institutions in which they work” (89-90).

“The problem with teaching citation and plagiarism as rule following is that it is not enough for students to know the textual practices of citation. Rather, students need to know citation and plagiarism as literacy practices – as complicated ways of making meaning” (105).

Notable Notes

Butler – performative identites – you have your identity by what you do (students’ identities are formed by whether or not they adhere to textual citation practices and expectations)

students live in fear of plagiarizing. They aren’t safe – even honest students can unknowingly trip up and plagiarize, then labeled as dishonest (fear of going to jail as a kid)

ethical morality (Zygmunt Bauman) – being moral because you are following a rule, not because you are acting on what you think is right…no personal individual moral responsibility or choices needed

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