Re: Re[2]: Grading, Plagiarism, Webbed Writing and ...

Kenneth Robert Wright (kright@OREGON.UOREGON.EDU)
Tue, 6 Aug 1996 10:01:55 -0700

On Tue, 6 Aug 1996, janet cross wrote:

> On Mon, 5 Aug 1996, Kenneth Robert Wright wrote:
> > alone, and they produce dissertations that are works of individual
> > scholarship which each of them defends alone. At least that's how
> > English departments appear to me to operate.
> That appearance is as misty as those shadows on the cave. And it's hard
> to shadow box. I cannot see how any of us do not make meaning through
> collaborative processes.Erg, but that was twisted. let me restate. How
> are any of us off in a wilderness with nothing to read, no one to talk
> to, making meaning on our own individual lonely selves? Every time I
> pick up a book, read some email, talk to people online and offline, I am
> collaborating. I really don't thik I am stretching a point here. Even in
> those classes where the teacher stood up and lectured, I was part of the
> process. The teacher might have thought I was a dried up little sponge,
> just soaking up eir lecture without question, but that was never the
> case. Sure, we can go off to the library and live among the
> of my favorite pasttimes. But even traditional "individual" scholarship
> needs a dialogue to take place between the reader and the writer at
> least. So, the problem as I see it is not so much the the "individual"
> but the "authorities" we are to listen to and dialogue with.

True enough, Janet. But the perception is that of a grad student working
alone in a musty (misty?) library to produce a dissertation. As I
mentioned in relation to the post on plagiarism, it's not the academy
that needs to be resisted but the perceptions outside the academy.

> > So if we want, as has been
> > discussed on this list many times, computer assisted communication to be
> > accepted by the academy as a full-blown discipline, we should perhaps
> > look for ways of doing at the graduate level what we do when teaching
> > undergraduates.
> Who says we are not? If I link to your docs, or my colleagues, or my
> students, I *am* including their work as part of mine. If then I also
> provide ways for them to comment on my thesis, as I have done, they can
> include my voice with theirs. What's the differnce? We are citing/siting
> each other instead of the grand wizzars of the canon. And I happen to
> adore many of those grand wizzars. I ust also believe that insight can
> come from anywhere and anyone.

Again, I agree, but that form of scholarship is not yet recognized as
having the same value as the traditional ways of doing scholarship:
citing the "grand wizzars." And, again, back to the plagiarism issue, it
is, IMHO, unethical of us to use undergraduates to buck the
academy--implied by those who would give the student who borrowed the
links an A--when it is the culture outside the academy, where most people
exist most of the time, that must be changed first.

> > How about a virtual dissertation that is
produced by
> > more than one grad student, and which consists of texts produced by those
> > students with links to theorists and to groups of students working on
> > similar projects? Actually, the idea of the virtual dissertation scares
> > me more than the traditional one.
> Been there, done that. It's called scholarship, and it's too bad the "system"
> can't recognize it yet. I share my "byline" on my thesis with every person I
> cite. Too bad I can't cite/site *all* the voices i collaborated with over my
> lifetime that went into that "final culminating" experience. Yee gads, I wish
> I could find my 5th grade teacher. He woulda been so happy to see that I
> still care about history and writing and art and music and poetry and silk
> worms all the other wonderful things we collaborated on many many years ago.
> The ivory tower is so high up in the mists I can't really see it. Was it ever
> REALLY there?
> Janet

Yes, too bad. I'm not so sure it's the ivory tower, if it exists, that
we should be concerned about. It's the world our students must face
outside the academy that concerns me. While I'm personally very far to
the left of liberal, I can in good conscience encourage my students to
resist a system that I'm not willing to resist because I'm safe in the
academy. I guess I'd make a lousy general. But before we reward students
for doing things in the academy that will not serve them well outside of
it, we should work to change the perceptions of those outside. And right
now, receiving an A for borrowing the work of others, not matter how
legitimate in that particular class room, is not view as proper outside
the academy.

You've given me an idea. I will acknowledge my third-grade teacher,
Mrs. Riersgord, in my dissertation because she liked
my poetry and encouraged me to write more, and I've never forgotten how
good that encouragement felt.

Kenneth R Wright