In an article on plagiarism in today’s New York Times, Stanley Fish recounts an incident in which he discovered his writing reproduced in another’s publication without his knowledge or permission. He goes on to discuss plagiarism as more a professional issue than a moral or philosophical one. I’m neither disagreeing or agreeing with him. What interested me in this article was the relative position of those involved. Stanley Fish owned the property. He was and is a well-established, major career writer. He had the power. What he didn’t experience was the underling’s position, the beginner who sees his work usurped before he’s gained any recognition at all. I recall a case in which a student was asked to present a paper on a certain writer. The paper received a C. The student later found that very paper published under the professor’s name, as notes on a contemporary author.
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