Reorganizing

Today was productive. I made a series of bizarre post-its on the edge of my desk, detailing everything that needs to get done in the next two weeks or so – crossed off quite a few of the minor ones, did two medium-sized ones, and resolved to do the rest ASAP.

There was some time for some relaxed reading. The new CE came today, and there were two particularly good articles in it. “We Won’t Get Fooled Again: On the Absence of Angry Responses to Plagiarism in Composition Studies” by Amy Robillard and “The Stakes of Not Staking Our Claim: Academic Freedom and the Subject of Composition” by Mary Boland.

Robillard’s article perfectly describes the samurai’s dilemma of morals vs. duty that plagiarism exposes in us; our identity as caring, understanding teachers is threatened, and when we turn in our students to “the authorities,” we self-contradict ourselves as we’ve stopped teaching and being involved. This can be rationalized away by saying that such punishment is in the student’s best interest, but that doesn’t explain the deep sense that I did something wrong a few semesters ago when I did report a student for plagiarism.

This actually ties pretty closely to Boland’s article, where composition’s past and current inability to sell a progressive social model of writing and its teaching to anyone but composition scholars is demonstrated quite well – this is why execution-style plagiarism policies, such as the UoM’s, remain in effect., all based on a simple model of “writing=skill.” This seems to be a public relations job for a few good rhetors – to do a whirlwind tour of college presidents/deans/administrators and divest them from their ignorance of rhetcomp scholarship, as they’re not listening, apparently, to the writing experts that they have. The definition of an expert is someone from out of town, anyway.

This apparent disrespect for rhetcomp scholars worries me. I’ve never been good at hiding what I feel, and apparently the structure of academia requires that I be as quiet as a mouse for the first six years if I want any more than six. That might not work too well – would I be content to engage in “tactical” operations, as Boland describes them, rather than “strategic” ones? We’ll see.

In other news, I had a really exciting idea for the diss, but it will have to wait until I finish translating the Gospel of Mark to see if it is doable.

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