503 S. State St.
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109

More information available at http://www.lsa.umich.edu/swc/conference/

The Sweetland Writing Center will hold a national conference to explore the inter-related issues of originality, imitation and plagiarism for students, scholars, professional writers, and readers. This conference will draw local and national attention to issues of concern to educators, students, and the general public, namely the widespread perception that much written work for academic purposes and general consumption is no longer original, but is imitative or plagiarized. We will address issues of copyright and ownership of original work, the appropriate dissemination of innovative ideas, and the authority and role of the writer/author. In recent years we have been treated to several high-profile cases of scientists, historians, journalists, and politicians stealing material from their peers or inventing facts to fit a thesis. Newspapers, radio, and television regularly lament the misuse of the Internet. How do scholars and students separate their own ideas from the cacophony of intellectual information within a specialized field, the media, and the Internet?

We have invited major figures in the fields of higher education, journalism, composition studies, copyright law, and creative writing. Plenaries will focus on the role of higher education in promoting the free exchange of information, while also guarding intellectual standards. Speakers will address the ethical and practical issues that complicate our contemporary notions of the writer and originality. Specialists in composition studies, especially in writing centers, are often expected to play a pivotal role in enforcing campus and community standards of authorial honesty. Composition specialists and creative writers will address both theoretical and practical issues for the teaching of writing, in which issues of originality, copying and plagiarism are especially fraught for students.

At Sweetland we see this confusing ferment of ideas as an opportunity to rethink the place of writing in education and learning. Our conference will be a timely intervention in national debates about what constitutes original or plagiarized writing. Postmodernists have played with, superimposed, and altered existing icons, clich├ęs, and tropes in art and literature. Leading MFA programs, including our own, feature courses in imitation, arguing that the best way to develop one?s creative voice is to imitate consciously the work of established and venerated authors, such as William Faulkner and Ernest Hemingway. Medieval and Renaissance scholars remind us that the principle of imitatio?imitating classical authors?was a well-established and respected style of writing. Only in the eighteenth century did the written word become a unique form of intellectual property, to be protected in order to insure the livelihood of the individual author. Ever since, Anglo-American copyright law has upheld two contradictory principles, the need to protect a work and the freedom to disseminate its content. The legal distinction between free ideas and protected words still stands. In recent years, however, numerous institutions, including the Internet, have complicated these traditional rights. The troubling issues of what constitutes originality, imitation, and plagiarism among students are writ large in our society.

This conference is free and open to the public, without registration.

Added by revgeorge on September 14, 2005



Lawrence Lessig is one of the keynote speakers.


Lessig will be in the Ballroom at the Michigan Union at 4:30 PM on Friday, September 23rd, the conference schedule is available at http://www.lsa.umich.edu/UofM/Content/swc/document/Program.CMS.0825.doc