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Originality, Imitation, and Plagiarism: Teaching Writing in the Digital Age

edited by Martha Vicinus and Caroline Eisner

University of Michigan Press, 2008


Cloth: 978-0-472-07034-3

Paper: 978-0-472-05034-5

eISBN: 978-0-472-02444-5

OA eISBN: 978-0-472-90048-0

About the Book

"At long last, a discussion of plagiarism that doesn't stop at 'Don't do it or else,' but does full justice to the intellectual interest of the topic!"
---Gerald Graff, author of Clueless in Academe and 2008 President, Modern Language Association

This collection is a timely intervention in national debates about what constitutes original or plagiarized writing in the digital age. Somewhat ironically, the Internet makes it both easier to copy and easier to detect copying. The essays in this volume explore the complex issues of originality, imitation, and plagiarism, particularly as they concern students, scholars, professional writers, and readers, while also addressing a range of related issues, including copyright conventions and the ownership of original work, the appropriate dissemination of innovative ideas, and the authority and role of the writer/author. Throughout these essays, the contributors grapple with their desire to encourage and maintain free access to copyrighted material for noncommercial purposes while also respecting the reasonable desires of authors to maintain control over their own work.

Both novice and experienced teachers of writing will learn from the contributors' practical suggestions about how to fashion unique assignments, teach about proper attribution, and increase students' involvement in their own writing. This is an anthology for anyone interested in how scholars and students can navigate the sea of intellectual information that characterizes the digital/information age.

"Eisner and Vicinus have put together an impressive cast of contributors who cut through the war on plagiarism to examine key specificities that often get blurred by the rhetoric of slogans. It will be required reading not only for those concerned with plagiarism, but for the many more who think about what it means to be an author, a student, a scientist, or anyone who negotiates and renegotiates the meaning of originality and imitation in collaborative and information-intensive settings."
---Mario Biagioli, Professor of the History of Science, Harvard University, and coeditor of Scientific Authorship: Credit and Intellectual Property in Science

"This is an important collection that addresses issues of great significance to teachers, to students, and to scholars across several disciplines. . . . These essays tackle their topics head-on in ways that are both accessible and provocative."
---Andrea Lunsford, Louise Hewlett Nixon Professor of English, Claude and Louise Rosenberg Jr. Fellow, and Director of the Program in Writing and Rhetoric at Stanford University and coauthor of Singular Texts/Plural Authors: Perspectives on Collaborative Writing

digitalculturebooks is an imprint of the University of Michigan Press and the Scholarly Publishing Office of the University of Michigan Library dedicated to publishing innovative and accessible work exploring new media and their impact on society, culture, and scholarly communication. Visit the website at

About the Author

Caroline Eisner was the Associate Director of the Sweetland Writing Center at the University of Michigan from 2001 to 2007. In 2007, she became the Academic Dean at Landmark College in Putney, Vermont.

Martha Vicinus is Director of the Sweetland Writing Center and Eliza M. Mosher Professor of English and Women's Studies at the University of Michigan.

Teaching Writing, Plagiarism, Imitation in literature, Originality, Authorship, Study and teaching, Writing, Language Arts & Disciplines, Literary Criticism
Open Access Information

License: CC BY-NC-ND