Jennifer Rogers


Trials of an 8 a.m. English Class

Prior to this quarter of English Composition 101, I believed whole-heartedly that the only type of papers I was able to create were research papers. Now, I’ve come to the realization that I seem to be able to analyze and comment more with personal opinions and views. This is all with more power and thought than I had ever felt before toward any topic in English classes. I had never been very good at being able to throw in personal touches or stories in papers without feeling I was watering down the task at hand. This quarter and class allowed me to see that these personal anecdotes do not ruin or belittle the matter at hand but instead give connection or understanding to the audience. For example, while I may have felt that bell hooks was trying to gain sympathy through her autobiographical recollection, she captured the new kind of writing I can and want to create. She was personal and made effective use of her imagery and memories.

English Composition 101 did not only transform me into a more analytical and critical writer but also a more creative writer. The best paper I wrote in this class was the second assignment, the Rhetorical Analysis. Before this class, I did not even know what rhetoric was; let alone how to analyze it. This paper was my best in the class because it was the one that I got the most creative with. Instead of cranking out the typical essay that I was so familiar and comfortable with, I chose to write in the format of a letter to the editor. I attempted to express thanks to Mary Pipher for her essay and still give her hints as to how she could make her writing that much more effective for a younger audience like myself. “Priority Mail”, my Rhetorical Analysis, also held what I felt as my most creative title, too.

Clearly, the changes that English Composition 101 had on me as a writer are beginning to add up. The course transformed my writing process as well. Prior to my eight o’ clock in the morning English 101 class, I was always the student to take a seat and write the entirety of the paper in one sitting. Techniques taught in this class showed me that this is not the best way to approach a matter at hand. For example, my class was required to bring in a hard copy of a middle paragraph of our synthesis rather than start from the beginning in order to force us to look at all the opinions and ideas presented. I am now able to write a paragraph or two, then come back later on and revise or edit them, and keep on going with the rest of the paper. This method of writing has not only allowed me to improve on my papers but has also allowed me to realize that this way of working could apply to the real world. If ever I am frustrated with a task I am attempting to do, I now walk away and calm myself. Then I can approach it with more confidence and collectiveness to ultimately be successful when it is all said and done.

English Composition 101 taught me lessons on the course material. However, it taught me lessons about my writing style, writing process, and about my own personal temperament. Little did I know going into this English course, that it would be my most influential class of my first quarter of my freshman year of college. It will be a course that I remember as being educational, enjoyable, and significant.



Cheating By Any Other Name

Plagiarism seems to be a rapidly spreading epidemic throughout the entire academic world. Educators and school officials are all taking their own separate and different stances on the issue. While no one suggests cheating or copying, different takes on plagiarism from educators around the nation cause people to question and form their own views on plagiarism. Rebecca Moore Howard, Keith D. Miller, and Maureen Hourigan all take different approaches to the very large issue of plagiarism and they help their audiences see a new side of the subject and form their own new opinion on the subject.

Rebecca Moore Howard takes a more understanding and realistic approach to the plagiarism that is performed by her college students. During “A Plagiarism Pentimento”, Howard gives the audience many examples referring to students in her class that had plagiarized (Howard 116-117, 119). She refers to her early understanding of plagiarism as blinding to what students were actually trying to achieve through what she now calls “patchwriting” (Howard 115). “Patchwriting”, as described by Professor Howard, is the “copying from a source text and then deleting some words, altering grammatical structures, or plugging in one-for-one synonym substitutes” (Howard 115-116). Throughout this small excerpt from Howard, she gives insight as to how writing instructors view on plagiarism may make it difficult for students to find that newly introduced academic language that universities force quickly upon their new (Howard 116, 121-122). Howard explains that students are using “patchwriting” as a way to finding an understanding of unfamiliar subjects or topics (Howard 121). Howard is very understanding to how her students interpret their “patchwritten” papers to be original and completely theirs. She explains to the readers that she now teaches the “patchwriting” skill as well as helping her students transform into scholarly, and original, writers by interrogating their summaries of the original text (Howard 124).

Keith D. Miller takes a more similar approach to plagiarism as Rebecca Howard does. Miller continues to reinforce the idea throughout his essay that the words being written, or spoken, are more important than having the correct citations present (Miller 128). Keith Miller is a scholarly man and does not promote the use of plagiarism among students and in his “Redefining Plagiarism” he says that students must be taught to avoid plagiarism (Miller 131). Miller believes how ever that it is difficult for some people to negotiate “the boundaries between oral and print traditions” (Miller 131). He refers to Martin Luther King Jr’s act of borrowing powerful phrases or quotes to have an impact on a large number of individuals’ lives (Miller 128). Miller also supports his argument that effect is more powerful than politically correctness by referring to the oral tradition of preachers (Miller 130-131). He makes a very valid point in saying that society does not condemn King or preachers as plagiarists and then raises the question of what to do in these significant cases (Miller 131). Keith Miller wants his audience to decide as to label these important figures as plagiarists, grant him exemption from plagiarism rules due to his higher level of status or impact on the world, or should the traditional rules of plagiarism be rethought (Miller131)?

Dr. Maureen Hourigan is far more critical of plagiarism than the other two authors. She dubs the source of plagiarism to mostly be that students want to free up time in their schedule, whether it be for free time to have fun or to do work for other classes. Dr. Hourigan also cites reasons for plagiarism to be laziness, pressure to get good grades, and the thought of some classes being of no value to their chosen majors or careers (Hourigan 157). Hourigan is also very quick to point a finger at the Internet for being the source of the enormous explosion of plagiarism throughout students of all ages (Hourigan 158). She gives multiple examples from high-end cases of plagiarism, such as when Elizabeth Paige Laurie, the heir to Wal-Mart billions, was allegedly paying her ex-roommate to write her term papers and other assignments for her at the University of Southern California (Hourigan 158). Maureen Hourigan then begins to give tell of how universities across the country are beginning to crackdown on plagiarism in all forms by using tracking tools, such as (Hourigan 159). Once she has disclosed that professors have many resources at hand to unfold the truth behind “borrowed” papers, Hourigan gives readers examples of how students are easily persuaded into term paper cite customers with promises such as “things that others only promise” or “custom-written on your specified topic, completely non-plagiarized, written by our experienced writers, and delivered before your deadline” (Hourigan 161). By pointing out how these very simple and most likely false advertisements catch students eyes and trust, Dr. Hourigan points out how gullible these lazy paper buying students are.

Plagiarism is a scary and difficult thing for a college student to attempt to avoid and prevent. All of the authors’ excerpts help their audience take key points, bunch them all together, and then form their own new opinion. Rebecca Moore Howard gave her audience the key idea of “patchwriting”. Along with Dr. Keith Miller’s view of oral tradition, they helped me form the idea of plagiarism being understandable, a learning tool, but still wrong all at the same time. Prior to reading these articles, I saw plagiarism more as Howard did towards the beginning of her career. I viewed it as wrong or right with no other way around it. Both of these authors placed blame on the student and still tried to guide them through it rather than come down on them with some sort of harsh punishment. While reading “A Plagiarism Pentimento” and “Redefining Plagiarism: Martin Luther King’s Use of an Oral Tradition” helped me form a more understanding and helpful view towards plagiarism, Maureen Hourigan’s “Of Plagiarism, Paper Mills, and the Harried Hurried Student” offered me little insight as a reader. Her harsh view and critical approach towards students who plagiarized made me feel as though I was cowering in a corner. Being a college student myself, I understand the need to make more time in the day and the dreading of writing papers for not so enjoyable classes. Hourigan’s critical view on students and the internet, which is another huge part to my life, made me unable to connect or be sympathetic of her views, seeing how I felt she was not being sympathetic towards students.

All of the authors and essays came into their writing with a purpose. That purpose was to sway the opinion of the readers to match their own. While I may not have completely adopted their views, Rebecca Moore Howard, Keith Miller, and Maureen Hourigan all caused me to step back and look at my views closer. Their varying opinions are definitely something to cause controversy. Overall, these authors led me to form a new independent view gathering bits and pieces of all of their opinions.

Works Cited

Hourigan, Maureen. “Of Plagiarism, Paper Mills, and the Harried Hurried Student.” Essays on Writing. Eds. Lizbeth A. Bryant and Heather M. Clark. New York: Longman, 2009. 156-167. Print.

Howard, Rebecca Moore. “A Plagiarism Pentimento.” Essays on Writing. Eds. Lizbeth A. Bryant and Heather M. Clark. New York: Longman, 2009. 115-127. Print.

Miller, Keith D. “Redefining Plagiarism: Martin Luther King’s Use of an Oral Tradition.” Essays on Writing. Eds. Lizbeth A. Bryant and Heather M. Clark. New York: Longman, 2009. 127-131. Print.

Jennifer Rogers

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