Another Case of Plagiarism ...
The accusation is that Le Beau's Commencement Address at the University of Missouri, Kansas City, in December 2003 substantially plagiarized from Cornel West's Commencement Address at Wesleyan University on 30 May 1993. Greene and the Chronicle of Higher Education identify parallel passages that leave little doubt but that substantial plagiarism did take place. There is tell-tale evidence, as well, in the misspelling of the name of Toni Morrison, the novelist, in both texts. In comparing the two texts, Greene argues that
To study the texts side by side is a fascinating exercise. What's remarkable is not just the sameness: there's a remarkable difference as well. West's speech comes from a position of authority as a black American intellectual. This is a position LeBeau, who is white, cannot claim, nor does he attempt to. Rather, he drains the color out of West's speech so that, in the end, it is not so much an appropriation--though it is that--as a misappropriation, a watering down and a flattening out of a message that had its own particular power and edge.Le Beau acknowledges the similarities between the two texts, but denies ever having seen a copy of West's speech. He rightly claims that the standards for public speech are not the same as in scholarly research. On the other hand, Peter Charles Hoffer argues that Le Beau did commit plagiarism in the net's text of his address and finds it inexcusable that his published address did not indent or include West's texts within quotation marks
I report a story like this with considerable sadness. I don't know Le Beau well, but he is a historian of considerable accomplishment. He is Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences in the University of Missouri, Kansas City, and a member of its History Department. He is the author of a dozen books about the American religious experience, most recently The Atheist: Madalyn Murray O'Hair. We both serve on the Steering Committee of History News Service. He is perhaps best known among historians as the host of Talking History, a weekly radio production, which is jointly sponsored by the Organization of American Historians and the Gilder Lehrman Institute for American History.
Update: Margaret Soltan at University Diaries does love a case of plagiarism. This time, she's got one by a Republican congressman and another by a Florida high school principal, who plagiarized her commencement remarks two years in a row and got caught at it both times.
Further Update: History News Network asked Bryan Le Beau for a response to the allegations of plagiarism in his Commencement Address. You can read his response here.
comments powered by Disqus
- Memorial for black Revolutionary War soldiers finds spot on Mall after 30 years
- Sherlock Holmes star to feature in a new movie about Alan Turning
- Man’s Genome From 45,000 Years Ago Is Reconstructed
- This company claims its video games about the French Revolution are accurate
- Origins of sex discovered
- Thousands of Historic Archives from British Asylums to Go Online
- American Studies Association boycott of Israel: Conservatives say it’s weakening
- YIVO Vilna Project Will Digitize Jewish History
- Columbia historian Eric Foner is giving his lectures to the public -- and to posterity — through a free MOOC.
- Black studies professor in the middle of exploding scandal at the University of North Carolina