Revolution Lullabye

May 20, 2009

Colvin, Another Look at Plagiarism in the Digital Age

Colvin, Benie B. “Another Look at Plagiarism in the Digital Age: Is It Time to Turn in My Badge?” Teaching English in the Two-Year College 35.2 (December 2007) 149-158.

Colvin is uncomfortable with no-tolerance university plagiarism policies that respond punitively before pedagogically. After having a first-generation college student leave the university after she accused him a plagiarism, Colvin revisits how writing teachers approach issues of authorship, plagiarism, patchwriting, and the use of digital technologies. She does not want to abandon Turnitin, but says she will use it now as a tool that will have pedagogical effects, as she can use the results to teach her students to be better readers, researchers, and consumers.

Quotable Quotes

“All I did was reinforce that he was behind the academic fence without a key” (150)

Notable Notes

Harvard case – Blair Hornstine denied admission over plagiarism charges in her high school papers

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

February 15, 2009

Randall, Pragmatic Plagiarism

Randall, Marilyn. Pragmatic Plagiarism: Authorship, Profit, and Power. Toronto: U of Toronto Press, 2001.

Plagiarism is not a textual feature; rather, plagiarism is identified, named, and made an accusation by the reader, who must interpret the author’s intentions based on the text itself, which may not give clues to the author’s motivations. Plagiarism is also pragmatic because it is a source of power: profit (economic), imperial (conquest and colonialism), and guerilla (subversive, political, and revolutionary.) Randall focuses exclusively on historical and contemporary cases of literary plagiarism suspicion and accusation, investigating (through her study of the role of the reader and the power motivations for plagiarism) why some authors are accused of the crime of plagiarism and others are praised as artists and genius authors. She points out that textual ownership (manifest through copyright law) is a far more recent phenomenon  than textual authorship (which forms the ethical foundation of plagiarism, imitation, and appropriation, and was written about in ancient times.)

Quotable Quotes

Plagiarism “is not an immenent feature of texts, but rather the result of judgments involving, first of all, the presence of some kind of textual repetition, but also, and perhaps more important, a conjunction of social, political, aesthetic, and cultural norms and presuppositions that motivate accusations or disculpations, elevating some potential plagiarisms to the level of great works of art, while censuring others and condemning the perpetrators to ignominy” (5).

Plagiarism and copyright are two different histories, invoking “two different realms – the deontic and the judicial” (76).

“Plagiarism is a judgment imposed upon texts” (xi) – she looks at the judgments, not the texts.

Notable Notes

Book Outline
Part 1: relationship between plagiarism and authorship; ancient and medieval notions of authority, authenticity, and originality; plagiarism is about identity; development of authors as originators and then owners of discourse.
Part 2: the importance of the reader in “naming, compiling, and criticizing either plagiarism or its critics” (xii)
Part 3: profit, imperial, and guerilla plagiarism – plagiarism as power
Conclusion: the digital age is questioning ideas of authorship and ownership, but the death of authorship would mean the death of plagiarism, and accusations against plagiarism aren’t going to cease

Plagiarism is unethical for two reasons: form of stealing (property) and form of fraud (authorship)

Plagiarism is a crime against authors; copyright infringement is a crime against owners (268)

Uses Bourdieu, Montainge

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