e-mail me at billdeg@umich.edu



In a recent College English article, Amy Robillard* wrote:
...anger is a legitimate and justifiable response to what one has been persuaded is an insult that violates one's sense of moral justice and the sacred values of one's community. Anger by definition includes the assignment of responsibility and the possibility of revenge, which is pleasurable because it is sanctioned by the community whose values have been violated.
Robillard suggests plagiarism is a site where we might challenge the cultural conceptions that emotions and authorship are private and individual things. She asks whether we often avoid anger at plagiarism as part of a larger desire to look liberatory ("I don't get mad at students")? And she also asks whether our anger at plagiarism (when we allow anger...on blogs, for instance) is framed by our desire to look smart ("Usually I'm smart enough to design assignments that prevent plagiarism and when I don't, I'm smart enough to realize I'm reading something that's been plagiarised").

So I'm trying to reconcile the insights of this article with my own anger at a student of mine who has just plagiarised. I fall into all the traps. I get defensive about my assignments, my syllabus, my teaching. I feel insulted as an individual and as a member of a particular profession/community. I worry that my response somehow will weaken my credentials as a liberatory teacher. I take some perverse sense of satisfaction that I wasn't "fooled." And I'm aware that virtually every response fits into the schema of responses that Robillard outlines. The irony is that my response to plagiarism (which insults us in part because the practice is an affront to originality) is utterly unoriginal.

All of that is a round-about way of saying: I'm angry.

(*"We Won't Get Fooled Again: On the Absense of Angry Resonses to Plagiarism in Composition Studies." College English 70 (2007): 10-31.)

No comments: