Sunday, December 11, 2005

Not exactly plagiarism...

No, this isn't yet another post on plagiarism.

Well . . . maybe it is -- or about nipping plagiarism in the bud.

Yesterday morning, I found that a University of Massachusetts student had posted on the Milton Listserve (to which I subscribe) the following query:
what fate does mankind deserve following the fall?
That was it. Nothing else, not even a name.

Now, first off, if I were a student posting a question to Milton scholars, I'd at least capitalize the initial letter in the first word of my sentence.

But that's just me.

I'd also phrase the query in terms of what Milton thought that mankind deserved.

And I'd wouldn't use the word "fate." I'd ask what "judgement" Milton thought that mankind deserved.

That's what I'd do if I were a student posing the question.

As a scholar responding to this query -- or even to a properly worded version of it -- I'd ask, "Why do you want to know?"

I think, however, that I know why the student wanted to hear our views on "what fate . . . mankind deserve[d] following the fall," and a few other scholars on the listserve also thought that they knew why. One succinctly wrote:
I suspect that's something your teacher wants you to determine.
To whose words, another scholar humorously responded with:
Yet another scholar, implicitly skeptical about the purity of motive behind the query but with a bit more elaboration, wrote:
If you expect to get a useful answer to this question, you're going to have to provide some context. "Deserve" according to whom? And are you looking to more or less simply describe what happens in the poem (in a limited sense a matter of debate), to choose among various understandings of what might be said to happen (a matter of debate in a much wider sense), or evaluate those narrative events and/or understandings in some wider context (a matter of even wider debate)?
Still another scholar, very openly skeptical, wrote:
At least try to contribute something beyond this, like, say, maybe the entire draft text of the paper you're obviously trying to get us to write for you.
Now, I couldn't allow an opportunity like this one to slip by, so I also wrote a post, hoping to 'help' the hapless student:
Pay no attention to those other scholars. They wish to hide knowledge from you, to keep you low and ignorant. Why? Because in the day that you receive an answer, you shall be like them, knowing good texts from bad -- if there be bad.

Here, accept what I offer: After eating the apple, which turned out to be unripe, mankind deserved a bellyache, and that is exactly what mankind received.

All scholars are secretly agreed upon this, but I am revealing it openly for the first time. Share it freely with other students. Put it into your term papers. Quote me on it.

But don't bellyache afterwards.

Jeffery "Wormtongue" Hodges
At least one scholar on the listserve enjoyed reading the 'help' that I offered, responding heartily with:
A resounding . . . BRAVO!!
Ah . . . the first "Bravo" of my life. How nice! Should I bow?

I bow.


Post a Comment

<< Home