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


May 18, 2009

Litman, Choosing Metaphors

Litman, Jessica. “Choosing Metaphors.” In Originality, Imitation, and Plagiarism. Eds. Eisner and Vicinus. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 2008. 13-26.

Litman argues that the metaphors used to understand copyright protection and fair use have changed in the past thirty years, a change that has paralleled growth in copyright protection and restrictions in fair use. Copyright, when first conceived, was a balanced bargain between the author and the public, but has now shifted to a system of incentives, one grounded in the belief that more protection and control will result in more works of authorship and financial gain for authors. Fair use is now seen as a loophole that needs to be plugged, and piracy has shifted from the large-scale acts of criminals to describe individual unauthorized acts, for profit or not. These changes in metaphors have occured at a time when there is the digital technology to enforce tighter restrictions and control over intellectual property. Litman argues that copyright should not control how someone chooses to consume a work after its initial distribution.

Quotable Quotes

The expansion of copyright has “blinded many of us to the dangers that arise from protecting too much, too expansively for too long” (14).

Copyright has now become “property that the owner is entitled to control” (17).

Notable Notes

distinction of piracy today to any individual doing any unlicensed activity (21.) It’s not enough (or shouldn’t be enough) that this unauthorized behavior could result in detremental effects. Those detremental effects should be accounted before prior to accusing someone of piracy. Everyone has always copied and shared intellectual material – that’s the name of the game.

move to limit legitimate owners of copyrighted material from doing what they please with it (19) first sale doctrine, right to reread, loan, sell, give away

May 12, 2009

Howard, Standing in the Shadow of Giants

Howard, Rebecca Moore. Standing in the Shadow of Giants: Plagiarists, Authors, Collaborators. Stamford, CT: Ablex Publishing Corporation, 1999.

Howard advances a new theory of authorship that contests current understandings of plagiarism and the construction of the student-plagiarist-criminal. Patchwriting, a term she coins for writer-text collaboration (likened to imitation, mimesis, re(formation)), is not a cheating behavior that should be punished and labeled as plagiarism. Rather, it is a necessary and acceptable way of learning, a method used and endorsed throughout history as a way for novices to learn the langauge needed to enter a discourse community. Students who patchwrite in their essays and papers with the intent of understanding difficult texts, of learning, not deceit, and are doing something all writers do – collaborate with texts – except that these novice students aren’t as adept at covering their traces as professional authors are. Her theory of authorship stands in opposition to the notion of the autonomous, original author and seeks to disrupt the liberal cultural hierarchy that maintains the current power structure that has an interest in keeping students, the masses, from finding a voice. Howard argues for a pedagogy based in summary-writing as a way to teach students what patchwriting is (and to use it towards pedagogical good) and ends the book by calling for a revision of current college plagiarism policies.

Quotable Quotes

definition of patchwriting = “copying from a source text and then deleting some words, altering grammatical structures, or plugging in one synonym for another” (xvii)

“The inclusion of patchwriting in the category of plagiarism denies students opportunities to become scholars” (xx)

“The prospect of decriminalizing patchwriting causes seismic disturbances in composition studies” (xx).

“We do not write alone, and often it is texts, not people, with whom we collaborate” (8).

Patchwriting is “a discursive operation not against the source author but toward the content in which the operation occurs” (19).

Need to teach students “how to manage their patchwriting in ways that are stylistically sophisticated and academically acceptable and that contribute to the writer’s understanding of the source text” (140)

“Let ‘patchwriting’ describe the act of enthusiasm in which students collaborate with their source texts for the purposes of understanding them and entering their discourse. Let us respond pedagogically to that phenomenon” (166).

Notable Notes

four properties of authorship: autonomy, proprietorship, originality, morality (77)

move from neutral mimesis/originality binary to a hierarchal plagiarist/author binary

do not conflate plagiarism and copyright. Copyright is state regulated, legal norms to protect the individual author. Plagiarism rules are locally regulated, societal norms to protect a community….you can change plagiarism rules without changing copyright law

there is allowable plagiarism – ghost-writing, Teflon, great-wit, postmodern (104) also traditions of African American folk preaching, non-Western education and rhetoric, digital hypertext

long list of theorists, philosophies: Locke, Descartes, Hobbes, Foucault, Addison, Emerson, Wordsworth, Edward Young, Bahktin, Quintilian, Plato, Homer

plagiarism dectection software: “This technology would freeze and reassert the notion of authorship in which writing is unitary, originary, proprietary, and linear, and in which the text is the locus and sole arbiter of meaning” – not allow for meaning in context, in the reader, in the author’s intent (131)

patchwriting has a ton to do with reading comprehension (cognitivist) and entering an intellectual community (social constructivist) (145)

Her breakdown: plagiarism – act of intention for deceit (buying a paper, on-purpose-cheating); failure to cite – failing to cite out of ignorance of academic citation conventions; patchwriting – a transitional stage

both failure to cite and patchwriting are pedagogical opportunities, not occassions to terrorize and punish students.

trying to rid patchwriting from students is asking them to be less complex, polyphonus, and honest & true

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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