Revolution Lullabye

June 10, 2009

Ritter, Yours, Mine, Ours

Ritter, Kelly. “Yours, Mine, Ours: Triangulating Plagiarism, Forgery, and Identity.” JAC 27:3/4 (2007) 731-742.

Ritter’s essay is responding to an article from the previous issue of JAC, “Toward a New Content for Writing Courses: Literacy, Forgery, Plagiarism, and the Production of Belief,” by Amy E. Rollibard and Ron Fortune. Rollibard and Fortune argue that forgery and plagiarism are connected by the central idea of belief, and when students whole-text plagiarize, they do so not as an act of anti-writing but as an act of writing to forge certain authorial identities and to produce belief in a Bourdieuian way (through cultural capital legitimization.) Ritter unpacks their argument and draws connections between how Robillard and Fortune position college student acts of forgery and plagiarism (read by the culture as criminal) and younger student acts of forgery and plagiarism (read by the culture as mimicism, imitation, and part of the learning process.) College students, Ritter argues, must negotiate the slippery slide between the expectations of the college classroom and academic community and what they have relied on throughout their childhood. Ritter goes on to argue that students whole-text plagiarize not because they want to forge an authorial identity in individual assignments, but rather, they place value in the end result of all those assignments – the degree – and the identity that the degree forms. Ritter also contends that neither process pedagogy nor portfolios can prevent students from deliberately, knowingly plagiarizing.

Quotable Quotes

“how students resitst authorship vis-a-vis whole-text plagiarism” (741)

Notable Notes

how do we construct student plagiarists? What labels do we give them? What’s behind those names?

Ritter: whole-text student plagiarizers aren’t always just lazy – they are smart, industrious, purposefully drawing on the identites and cultural capitals of other authors, imitating those they admire and want to be connected to

simulation is more than copying

student texts already have little cultural value – plagiarism and forgery make them have a negative value


June 8, 2009

Lessig, Free Culture

Lessig, Lawrence. Free Culture. The Penguin Press, 2004.

Lessig argues that current copyright law, coupled with digital technologies that allow big media corporations to regulate how their copyrighted content is used, is quickly eroding the public commons and our national tradition of a free culture. He uses an anecdotal, qualitative approach in this book intended for a general public audience, centering his argument on how piracy and property are defined and argued about. He focuses on peer-to-peer file sharing, showing that only a percentage of the P2P sharing that occurs actually is copyright infringement. Lessig argues that copyright law must adapt to the new technology of the Internet and be reduced in term and scope. He has lobbied (unsuccessfully) for the adoption of the Eldred Act, an act that does not change the long length of copyright protection given in the Sonny Bono Copyright Act of 1998, but does require copyright holders to register and pay a nominal $1 fee to renew their copyright. Lessig argues that copyright law with more formalities (digital registration and renewal), required renewal periods, a reduced term and scope for derivative protection, and a regulated compensation system to pay artists through P2P sharing is a copyright law that will restore the balance between protection and freedom, a balance that has been lost. He also advocates for authors and other creators of IP material to choose to protect their work under a Creative Commons license, a license that allows creators to extend the fair use of their work by others.

Quotable Quotes

“the future will be controlled by this dead (and often unfindable) hand of the past” – the problem with long copyright terms with uncertain owners, no one wants to risk expensive litigation.

“That while the Internet has indeed produced something fantastic and new, our government, pushed by big media to respond to this ‘something new,’ is destroying something very old” (13) – the tradition of free culture, copyright law and balance

“Free cultures are cultures that leave a great deal open for others to build upon; unfree, or permission, cultures leave much less” (30).

Notable Notes

importance of balance

allow for copyright protection for works that have commercial value. Since most of the works that are currently covered do not have value, free them up for cultural use

we need to teach our students to be producers of culture, not just consumers – this is hard in an increasingly copyrighted American world

copying – a central theme of both copyright and plagiairsm

corporations are using their political power to change copyright law in order to stifle Internet-based creativity, which will democratize the creative process and competition

43 million Americans do P2P sharing. Are they all criminals? The four different kinds of piracy, of P2P file sharing. HOw can it be good?

anticircumvention provisions of DMCA is restricting how we use content and be creative

June 1, 2009

DeSana, Preventing Plagiarism

DeSana, Laura Hennessey. Preventing Plagiarism: Tips and Techniques. Urbana, IL: NCTE, 2007.

DeSana, a high school English teacher and part-time writing instructor at NYU, argues that students need to learn how to do original, subjective, interested research, not just retell what their sources say. She relies on an literature-based writing assignment sequence that begins with freewriting responses to a primary source, then analyzing and adding secondary sources. Her goal is for students to be the dominant voice in their thesis-driven researched arguments, controlling their source use with effective quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing. She believes that this kind of assignment sequence, coupled with a range of plagiarism-proof topics that dissuade students from relying on online cheat sources and recycled papers, will teach students to respect the research process and not plagiarize. She has a two-part definition of plagiarism: source of language plagiarism and source of information plagiarism, both equally important to address and curtail through the proper use of citation systems and explicit instruction in paraphrase. She gives teachers seven tools and steps for identifying plagiarism in their students’ papers, often positioning the students as savvy, lethargic, potential cheats who try to pull one over on the teacher because of their Internet expertise.

Quotable Quotes

“For those of us who are vigilant, we will enter the library as dectectives on the trail of a more intelligent theif” (97), on the importance of checking print-based sources in libraries (like secondary sources, CliffsNotes) for student plagiarism attempts

“Individuality self-destructs in endless mirroring” (111), doesn’t see much good in imitation

“We must begin to teach them how to exert control over the chaos – how to shape and academic argument” (7).

“We have to require the higher level of thinking that is achieved through the simultaneous processes of analysis and synthesis” (6).

The retelling that happens in a book report “is useless for several reasons – foremost among them is that it is a shabby mimicking of the original. No one can write Poe’s ‘The Fall of the Usher’ as well as Poe, nor should another writer attempt to” (4).

“Reporting is a retelling of ideas found; it is not an analysis of ideas found” (1)

“As educators, we must teach students to realize that they are required to have their own insights into source materials. They must engage in a dialogue with the sources they consult. Without this dialogue their research is meaningless and becomes a mere exercise of collecting and organizing” (1)

Notable Notes

absolute binary between research and retelling

works cited only includes one thing from rhet/comp, a article from Written Communication about text/source use and ESL students

one of her plagiarism prevention techniques she dubs “non sequitor approach” – having students turn in copies of online study guides to provide them for comparison with their essays

prescriptive writing process and sequence = freewriting, notetaking, outlining, writing

retelling (summaries) are not, in DeSana’s opinion, objective pieces of writing, not subjective researched positions

focus is on how to teach students to write thesis-driven, argumentative, taking-a-stand research essays

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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