Porter’s Idea Of Originality Essay

970 words - 4 pages

Since I arrived in the United States one of the first concepts that was introduced to me was the concept of plagiarism and the severity of its consequences. Since that moment I see myself focusing much more on paraphrasing and not committing plagiarism than the quality of the ideas that I am writing. However, I have noted that most of my ideas and opinions are probably based on somebody else’s work I might have read before. Therefore, is it not plagiarism? In the article “Intertextuality and the Discourse Community,” James E. Porter challenges the idea of what plagiarism truly is. He states that it is almost impossible to write without committing some sort of plagiarism. Instead, Porter ...view middle of the document...

This does not mean that Porter supports plagiarism, but instead Porter is trying to say it is almost impossible to come up with ideas and opinions that no one has thought before. What he describes as originality is to take somebody else’s ideas and create new perspectives and opinions based on those points of view. In other words, Porter suggests that creativity is a matter of interpretation and that anything we write is the result of what we interpret when we read. That is why taking other’s ideas to draw knew opinions should not be called plagiarism because inevitable all writing contains some sort of intertextuality. One can say that intertextuality is necessary for a writer to have a better understanding of what they read.
As an international student myself, paraphrasing is one of the aspects that turns writing into a nightmare for me. Since my vocabulary is somewhat reduced, I have to focus more on making my sentences look as different as possible to the original texts. I was so scared of committing plagiarism that I did not even consider the aspect of using the author’s ideas and creating my own opinions. Instead I preferred to follow the norm and paraphrase as much as possible. Sometimes I felt my professors paid much more attention to what I might have plagiarized rather than the quality of my own ideas. That is why writing turned into a systematic process in which I would only have to know how to rephrase sentences and I would be fine. In the moment I read Porter’s essay I thought it was contradictory to all that I had been taught before. However, it also made me see that by enforcing what they think originality is, most Composition instructors keep students from deeply expressing their ideas. What they seem to ignore is that in the same way our...

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