Revolution Lullabye

May 28, 2009

Johnson-Eilola and Sebler, Plagiarism, Originality, Assemblage

Johnson-Eilola, Johndan and Stuart A. Selber. “Plagiarism, Originality, Assemblage.” Computers and Composition 24 (2007): 375-403.

Johnson-Eilola and Selber argue for a problem-solving view of writing as assemblage rather than a performance and product-oriented understanding of composing. They place the concept of assemblage in conversation with discussions of plagiarism and originality, both which would undervalue and even criminalize assemblage (remix, collage) writing. They show how practices of assemblage are common in other fields and contexts, like website design, architecture, blogging, and institutional and workplace writing. Writing as assemblage, a postmodern understanding of creativity, limits the ethical and legal panic over plagiarism and the sloppy, unnecessary paraphrasing and allows students to use all available resources (and acknowledge those sources) to make their argument and solve problems.

Quotable Quotes

“If we take away that hierarchy, we remove the impulse for students to lie about it. If a piece of the assemblage is valued primarily for its function rather than its place in a hierarcy, students are no longer pushed so hard to hide the citations for their sources” (400). – students are afraid to have too much of their text in quotes or cited because then it doesn’t look like their original thought is in there (even though they selected, assembled.)

“By untangling the academic function from the legal function [of citation and paraphrase], we open up assemblages and remixes to examination in terms of our academic and pedagogical goals” (399).

“What if we put the emphasis on problem-solving, originality be damned?” (380).

“creating assemblages requires the same rhetorical sophistication as any text” (391).

Notable Notes

Christopher Alexander pattern language – these design patterns are “an ongoing conversation between local and global” and “The possible rhetorical moves of a pattern language are a reservoir, drawn on by an architect to address problems in specific contexts, remixed into an assemblage. The assemblage works at the intersection of principle and concrete.” (395).

selection, choice, local context

change in assessment practices to question whether the assemblage solves problems (instead of the Romantic understanding of single original author)

students are taught this hierarchy – others’ work and words can only be used as support and are secondary to their own original thoughts

21st century remix culture is all around us

May 26, 2009

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

May 18, 2009

Eisner and Vicinus, Originality, Imitation, and Plagiarism

Eisner, Caroline and Martha Vicinus, eds. Originality, Imitation, and Plagiarism: Teaching Writing in the Digital Age. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 2008.

This edited collection, divided into three sections (originality, imitation, plagiarism) draws together scholars from various discipilnary and technological perspectives to talk about issues of plagiarism, teaching writing, copyright, digital technology, and fair use doctrines. The authors argue in their introduction to bring back imitation as a legitimate and powerful pedagogical practice. I will take notes on the essays included in individual posts, marking each as “EisnerVicinus.”

February 19, 2009

Barthes, The Death of the Author

Barthes, Roland. “The Death of the Author.” In Authorship: From Plato to the Postmodern. Ed. Sean Burke. Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP Ltd., 2000. 125-130.

Barthes argues that it is not the author who speaks in a text, but rather, language itself. The concept of a single (male) author is one rooted in Enlightenment individualism, an idea so powerful that it reduced the text to an explanation and an understanding of the author. Instead, Barthes claims, an author and a text are born simultaneously (126); the former does not give birth to the latter, for the act of writing is not an act of reporting ideas but, rather, a performative act. Writing and texts do not have single, solitary lines of understanding: they are multivoiced and understanding them can only be a process of disentangling the lines, not completely deciphering them or figuring them out (129). The work of assigning meaning to a text, of compiling the voices into some sort of understandable whole, does not belong to the author/writer. It is the duty of the reader. Barthes calls for “the birth of the reader” at the expense of the Author. (130).

Quotable Quotes

“The birth of the reader must be at the cost of the death of the Author” (130).

“A text’s unity lies not in its origin but in its destination” (129) author-reader

“Everything is to be disentangled, nothing deciphered” (129)

“Life never does more than imitate the book, and the book itself is only a tissue of signs, an imitation that is lost, infinitely deferred” (128).

A text is a “multi-dimensional space in which a variety of writings, none of them original, blend and clash” (128)

“Writing is the destruction of every voice, of every point of origin…Writing is that neutral, composite, oblique space where our subject slips away, the negative where all identity is lost, starting with the very identity of the body writing” (125).

“The voice loses its origin, the author enters his own death, writing begins” (125).

Notable Notes

not assigning an ultimate final meaning to a text is to refuse God (and reason, science, and law) – very postmodern (129)

assigning an author limits a text, closes it, allows it to be criticized as an object

February 13, 2009

Halbert, Poaching and Plagiarizing

Halbert, Debora. “Poaching and Plagiarizing: Property, Plagiarism, and Feminist Futures.” In Perspectives on Plagiarism and Intellectual Property in a Postmodern World. Eds. Lise Buranen and Alice M. Roy, eds. Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 1999. 111-120.

Intellectual property laws and copyright should be eliminated in favor a view of intellectual property that emphasizes the creative potential of the commons and an attitude of acknowledging the sources of intellectual ideas and concepts. Such a view highlights the inherently social nature of creative activity, a perspective that challenges the patriarchal solitary author, who composes original thoughts and owns them as property through which to make a profit on. The alternative Halbert proposes is both feminist and postmodernist. Halbert also points out that arguments against plagiarism rooted in economic losses are misguided, explaining that plagiarism carries such weight because it is a personal offense and attack.

Quotable Quotes

“If we can emphasize a framework focused on sharing and exchange instead of personal ownership, then the concept of authorship as identifying ‘to whom something owes its origin’ is acceptable” (118)

“Unlike a tangible item, an idea can be shared by many and ownership of expressions can be difficult to enforce” (119).

“Plagiarism is about personal feelings, not profits” (117).

“For the feminist and the postmodernist, appropriation or plagiarism are acts of sedition against an already established mode of knowing, a way of knowing indebeted to male creation and property rights” (116).

“Intellectual property rights restrict the flow of texts” (116).

“Copyright produces a tension between how texts are created (a process that relies on textual paching, exchange, and sharing) and how texts are legally protexted (a process reliant on originality and private property)” (111)

Notable Notes

Outline of article: 1. explore partriarchal foundations (Locke and Hegel) of intellectual property and copyright law 2. look at current intersections of plagiarism, creativity, and property (case of Jeffrey Koons and “String of Puppies” wood carving) and 3. offer copyright alternative possibilities

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