Due to technical difficulties centering on user error, this is only a partially completed draft of the Timeline to be utilized by this course, for use during class and subsequent discussions. Updates to follow.
In light of my previous comments regarding Copyright Law, an interesting line of questioning arose. Do I believe that American Universities need to change their approach to plagiarism?
No, I don’t necessarily think so, but my full opinion has difficult nuance to it.
In most of the classes I have taken throughout my intermittent collegiate career, the professors have sufficiently linked plagiarism with cheating. The simplest way to avoid cheating is to include transparent methodologies. To put it into math terms, show your work. Our paper (or whatever final form your research takes, so… website?) should be more than just our findings. It should be a roadmap, illuminating not just the destination at which we have arrived but the path others can follow to arrive at the same conclusions. Retracing the steps we took allows others to validate the methodologies used or to poke holes in analyses with logical fallacies and faulty reasoning. In the extreme, it will also expose the ideas of others that we may try to pass as our own.
This traditional academic homily is effective, but it is also one sided. The emphasis is on the student themselves. While this makes sense, as one can only control their own actions, it does cause some valuable perspective to be lost. While it is important to concern ourselves with how we use the ideas of others, the goal of any historian is to advance their own ideas as well, to add to the intellectual community in their own unique way with their own unique thoughts and analysis.
This is the difficult position the field of history takes. As we enter the discipline at the lowest levels, we are little more than mindless automatons, regurgitating what has been fed to us to prove we were paying attention. Advancement in the field requires a shift in thinking beyond this limited scope. As we begin to develop into historians, we need to recognize the role we play within the discipline, and just as we need to protect the ideas of others, our own ideas warrant protection.
So to circle back around to the original question, no, I do not believe that universities need to change their initial approach to plagiarism. This approach directly addresses the most pressing and direct issue.
However, I do believe that history does a poor job of growing professional historians. Other disciplines must groom students to think like the professionals of that field, teaching them the appropriate methodologies that distinguish a professional from an amateur. History too often assumes students inherently understand what they are doing. While the discipline may discuss plagiarism appropriately, the issue of copyrights and the protection of intellectual property lies in a larger blind spot.
Or maybe it’s just me…
Am I going to post to my blog?
Parsley, Sage, and never enough time
Remember me and my massive backlog
Sorry! Still learning WordPress design…
Canticle? More like Can’t-Even-icle, am I right? But seriously…
I find Copyright Law to be extremely interesting. My fascination stems from the fact that it affected me long before I was aware of its existence. Growing up, my sister and I were extremely close to our cousins. As we grew older and became more aware of pop music, we all decided to have some fun with it. We made our own recording industry, complete with original songs recorded onto cheap casette tapes, charts, magazines to spread the latest rumors about us, and at one point, perfumes and colognes.
Additionally, I have always been a huge fan of musical comedy, dating back to my discovery of Weird Al Yankovic as a child. One creative outlet I will sometimes return to is to write parodies. I love the challenge of using contrafactum (aka word substitution) to tell a cohesive narrative while remaining as true as possible to the original work. I used an altered version of Scarborough Fair, a traditional English ballad, as the introduction to this post. The Canticle joke (for which I profusely apologize) is a reference to Simon & Garfunkel’s version, which included additional lyrics from a separate song written by them in counterpoint.
In spite of my long-standing relationship with Copyright Law – and in some select cases, possible infringement (“Convicted? No, never convicted”) – it was not until I began exploring the Fair Use Checklist that I began to understand that Copyright Law matters to my academic career. While professors stress how plagiarism is a form of cheating, it never occurred to me that it is not all about me. Just like with the music I enjoy listening to, the thoughts and ideas I cite belong to someone else. They graciously allow me to use them, to stand on the shoulders of those who are giants so that I may see a bit farther myself.
“Fair Use Checklist.” Columbia University Libraries: Copyright Advisory Office. Accessed September 25, 2017. https://copyright.columbia.edu/basics/fair-use/fair-use-checklist.html.
Stripes. Directed by Ivan Reitman. 1981. Culver City, CA: Columbia Pictures Corporation, 2012. Youtube. https://www.youtube.com/user/movieclips/.
Do not consider this the final product, merely just a practical checkpoint for progress while learning the technology.
Reports of my disenrollment have been greatly exaggerated.
Unfortunately, real life events have conspired to hold me back from fully contributing in this class for the last couple of weeks. While I have been able to participate some, much of this has occurred behind the scenes. However, this will not be the norm, as I am recommitting myself to this class and our research project. I owe Dr. Dunn and Dr. Turner sincere thanks for being flexible and working with me through my family emergency. Additionally, Maria, my partner on this project, has been nothing short of amazing as I have forced her to shoulder the burden of carrying this project during my absences.
As far as the project itself goes, significant progress is being made. Currently, we are formulating a Contract ( https://docs.google.com/document/d/104mZNYuKyu4XEOvqFxFjI1bmyxeBHO48EYpwUdx2NTc/edit?usp=sharing ) that will help us divide the labor appropriately and give us a refined focus that will be a roadmap to success.
The project itself is increasingly being refined. While there are many interesting informational paths we could have followed (and may yet explore), we have narrowed our focus to the Wichita, for whom our town of Wichita Falls is named. Other Native American populations in the region will also be explored to varying degrees. We intend to focus primarily on the forced migrations of these peoples as they were relegated to reservations in Texas and Oklahoma in the mid-to-late 19th Century. Additionally, we will be scrutinizing the lasting impact that they had upon the region even after thier involuntary relocation, to include the continued use of their cultural symbols and identity. To provide an appropriate historical context, we will also be exploring their origins in the region, which appears to date to the early 18th Century.
Meanwhile, we continue to collect resources and pull any pertinent information we can from them. One interesting development is that we have been put in contact with two individuals. The first is Dr. Michael Collins, a retired Midwestern State professor who was the editor of one of our standout sources, Tales of Texoma: Episodes in the History of the Red River Border. The second is Dr. Tai Kreidler, an MSU alum now employed as the Executive Director of the West Texas Historical Association and Deputy Director of the Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library of Texas Tech University. Both are regional experts and should prove invaluable contributors to our project.
This is a project that excites me. I am so happy that my life is again cooperating with me, allowing me to fully reengage with pursuits I consider worth chasing.
As we continue to move forward with our project, we (María Peña and I) are honing in on the topic we want to pursue. Up to this point, I have felt as though I was an overly excitable puppy trying to chase too many rabbits at the same time, allowing them all to escape into their burrows. However, after taking a step back, calming down, and refraining from chasing everything that moved, we close this week with far more concrete plans and a more focused vision for our project.
The Comanche play an important role in Texas history. Wichita Falls lies well within the Comancheria, and the present-day headquarters of the Comanche Nation is located in neighboring Lawton, Oklahoma. The impact of these people upon the region, both as they moved in and again when they were pushed out, has left an indelible mark and has shaped what this area is today.
We fully expect there to be plenty of archival information on the Comanche, from multiple sources. However, we believe that this will be fertile ground to cover, as their history and impact on the region has either been overlooked or tied up in the prevailing mythology that surrounds the “old west.”
There are numerous sources of information that we are beginning to explore. Tomorrow morning, we will be meeting with Cortny Bates, the librarian responsible for Special Collections at Midwestern State. Additionally, we have been exploring other archival options, such as the Wichita County Archives, the Wichita County Historical Commission, and the Museum of North Texas History. The Comanche National Museum and Cultural Center should also be an invaluable source of information.
Our topic may require some further refinement, but it is great to no longer feel like my head is spinning from too many great topics. This project is now coming into focus, and it is becoming clear what we need to do. Let’s do this!
I did not realize a surname beginning with the letter G was such an advantage!
While reading the three articles by the three separate authors, I noticed some common themes, foremost of which was the concept of American Exceptionalism. This could be, in part, my own bias being reflecting by their works. I am continually fascinated on the interplay between myth and history and how the resulting product is then put to work. Most of my formal exposure to the topic has focused on the regional variant known as Texceptionalism and how myth often overwhelms and obscures our local history. To find that it is pervasive in other areas of this field is both frustrating (in that the problem is not localized) and strangely gratifying (in how the problem is more communal than I previously believed it to be).
While all three articles handle the concept of American Exceptionalism, they all attack it in their own unique way. Goodman, for example, focuses on the paradigm shift within the field, as the mindset moves from the idea of America being a “nation of immigrants” to a “nation of migrants,” and how this represents the traditional field of immigrant history becoming less bound to previous constructs and more multidisciplinary. Garbaccia similarly addresses, she seems to perceive it as much more of an active impediment that must be overcome, going so far as to accuse the field of only concerning itself with migration when it comes to nation building and to describe the process as “the tyranny of the national” (1999, p. 1115). However, Gerstle takes a slightly different approach, choosing instead to focus on the two contradictory forces of civic nationalism (or what being a “Good American means in terms of political institutions such as the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence) and racial nationalism. All three serve as effective take downs of established paradigms of historical studies, bringing into question what we know and how we know it.
All three articles add value to our project. While specifics, such as Garbaccia’s Italians Everywhere project, may wind up not being directly applicable due to the nature of our potential topics (internal migration on a smaller scale, for the most part), they still provide valuable insight into the methodologies we will be seeking to employ, the mindsets we ought to use when approaching and evaluating our topics, and even lessons learned so that we can avoid reinventing the wheel or tripping over the same objects in the path others have already cleared.
In conclusion, these three articles have expanded my knowledge on the subject and will likely be a sound foundation on which future knowledge can be built. I hope that this short blog post both accurately captures the knowledge I have gained from these works and appropriately conveys my thoughts on the material. If there are any questions, I will gladly address them in any follow up entries. Thank you, and good day.
Adam Goodman, “Nation of Migrants, Historians of Migration,” Journal of American Ethnic History, Vol. 34, No. 4 (Summer 2015): 7-16.
Donna Gabaccia, “‘Is Everywhere No Where?’ Nomads, Nations, and the Immigrant Paradigm of American History,” Journal of American History, Vol. 86, No. 3 (December 1999): 1115-34.
Gary Gerstle, American Crucible: Race and Nation in the Twentieth Century (2nd ed., Princeton University Press, 2017)
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