Thursday, June 12, 2008

And I complain about my students' plagiarism...


On the Milton List this morning, Professor Carolyn C. Hunt, of the College of Charleston, reported a case of egregious plagiarism that actually contained a spark of originality despite its multiple 'borrowings' from the World Wide Web (WWW). Nevertheless, the essay proved to be the last straw for the professor mentioned by Professor Hunt:
Last week I had coffee with a school classmate whom I had not seen since 1959. It turned out that she had spent several years teaching undergraduates, then retired early. Why?

The essay that sent her down that road, "Milton and Stan," crammed with (unacknowledged) borrowings from the WWW, extolled the essential humanity, the likeability, etc. of "Stan" for several pages. When my classmate mentioned the recurring typo to her student, he didn't see why it would bother her. "Whatever," he said.

Ah yes, good old Stan.
I would have pointed out to that student that 'Stan' was hardly likeable in Paradise Lost but actually rather rude, as evidenced by his abrupt departure immediately after receiving directions from the old anarch, King Chaos, who had explained the way that 'Stan' should take to arrive at his destination:

Now lately Heaven and Earth, another World
Hung ore my Realm, link'd in a golden Chain
To that side Heav'n from whence your Legions fell:
If that way be your walk, you have not farr;
So much the neerer danger; go and speed;
Havock and spoil and ruin are my gain.
He ceas'd; and Satan staid not to reply...
PL 2.1004-1010, The Milton Reading Room)

All that excellent advice from King Chaos, who surely seems more likeable than 'Stan', yet 'Stan' rushes off without even offering even a meager "Thanks"!

Likeable? I beg to differ!

Still, I must admit that 'Stan' has a masterful way with words, as in his famously quotable words from Paradise Lost 1.263: "Better to reign in Hell, then serve in Heav'n."

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At 5:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seems to me a perfectly reasonable effort to provide "plausible deniability" in avoiding being labelled, "You rotten plagiarist you!"


At 5:04 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

The student could always claim, "Stan told me to do it."

And who could resist likeable, silver-tongued 'Stan'?

Jeffery Hodges

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At 5:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just leaves me wondering (somewhat admiringly) whether the student in question chose what I heretofore considered unique. A variation on being either grammitcally correct or the more simplified name changing.

I think I'd have enjoyed the humor of it, not retired, and given the D-.


At 6:54 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

"D-"? Nah, egregious plagiarism receives an automatic "F."

Jeffery Hodges

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At 10:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Do your students call you Professor or simply Mr?

Regardless, one (anyone/everyone) needs to (gather, gain-whatever) an appreciation for the absolutely absurd.

The absurd will set you free.


At 10:06 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Unfamiliar as Korean students are with Western conventions, they often call me "Mr. Hodges."

Jeffery Hodges

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At 8:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unfamiliar as Korean students are with Western conventions, they often call me "Mr. Hodges."

Why not "Professor Hodges"? That is your title.

At 9:11 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Probably because way back in preschool, they learned a song that sang "Good Morning, Mr. Smith!" and overlearned the "Mr."

I don't bother to correct them Maybe I will when I'm no longer a young fellow.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 12:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah, "Stan." Reminds me of a student in my medieval lit course a few years ago who submitted not one, not two, but three papers in which he referred to that great English poet of the 14th century, Geoffrey Saucer.

At 2:33 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Well . . . he was rather saucy.

Jeffery Hodges

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