Revolution Lullabye

May 26, 2009

Howard, Plagiarisms, Authorships, and the Academic Death Penalty

Howard, Rebecca Moore. “Plagiarisms, Authorships, and the Academic Death Penalty.” College English 57.7 (Nov 1995): 788-806.

University regulations and policy statements on plagiarism need to be revised to reflect the field’s complex understandings of authorship, composing, and plagiarism. These policy statements, which try to simplify and stabilize the dynamic, complex concept of plagiarism, are problematic because they uphold the Romantic ideal of the single, solitary author, they couch plagiarism solely on moral (not pedagogical) terms, and they define plagiarism through textual features without any consideration for a writer’s intent or context. Howard includes a sample plagiarism policy that she wrote that more accurately reflects the continuum of motivations and practices of plagiarisms, with a range of appropriate responses for patchwriting, failure to cite, and outright cheating and plagiarism.

Quotable Quotes

“The cumulative, interactive nature of writing that makes impossible the representation of a stable category of authorship and hence a stable category of plagiarism” (791).

“Sanctioning rather that criminalizing an important stage of students’ learning processes” (802).

Notable Notes

two sources to look at: Thomas Mallon’s Stolen Words – treats plagiarism through lens of solitary author – and Hull, Glynda and Mike Rose. “Rethinking Remediation: Toward a Social-Cognitive Understanding of Problematic Reading and Writing.” Written Communication 6.2 (1989): 139-154. – argues for imitation in comp pedagogy

why is plagiarism so offensive? It undermines what we believe in composition – that writing is discovery, expressionism, an understanding of the self

moral lens so that universities have to prosecute plagiarism: theft, integrity, secrets, crime, honor, citizenship

university policies don’t line up with current understandings and theories of authorship – collaborative, digital

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