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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Woodmansee and Jaszi, The Law of Texts

Woodmansee, Martha and Peter Jaszi. “The Law of Texts: Copyright in the Academy.” College English 57.7 (Nov 1995): 767-787.

Woodmansee and Jaszi show how the history of modern copyright is aligned with 19th century literary theory that privileges the solitary autonomous author, a theory that is currently outdated. Even though this theoretical foundation has shifted, copyright has not shifted with it, instead becoming even more restrictive. They argue that compositionists need to take the lead on framing and arguing for balance in copyright protection through 1. taking public stances on educational fair use and the extension of copyright protections and 2. changing their pedagogy from one that depends on the solitary author to one that teaches students about the collaborative, social nature of composing.

Quotable Quotes

“What is needed, in short, is an ethos of collaboration which would encourage students to acknowledge their debts, and a corresponding rhetoric of attribution to help them identify and name these debts – in place of the punitive rhetoric that is typically found in the chapter devoted to the research paper in our current composition textbooks and handbooks” (784).

“The intellectual commons on which we may draw freely as writers and readers, scholars and teachers, is shrinking fast” (772).

“The enclosure of the public domain” (772).

fear of “worldwide uncontrolled piracy” (from “Controlling Electronic Rights” Rights 6.2 (1992): 3-4.)

Notable Notes

extending copyright and restricting fair use – Kinkos photocopying case (does not recognize authorship as arranging and selection, Romantic understanding of the author); absolute 1st publication right restricts the use of unpublished materials

academic writers don’t need the protection of copyright for financial reasons, they write books for status, tenure, not direct profit, so they can turn to copyleft protection

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