We adults fail the citation/plagiarism talk the same way we fail the sex talk.

Yesterday I had The Talk with two of my classes — my first-year writing seminar and my upper-level writing/research course.

Doing so proved to me once again that you can’t have The Talk too often with young people. Students were under-informed, misinformed, and worst of all, filled with fear.

The Talk, of course, for these classes was about plagiarism.

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Photo by Jasmin Sessler on Unsplash

Two students in separate classes shared what I think is far too common with the emphasis on what to avoid, plagiarism, (a deficit perspective) instead of what to do and why, scholarly/academic citation — one having been “terrified” by a seminar…


When I read and hear the emails angry at me for breaking the rules of civility surrounding Limbaugh, I hear first: “The lady doth protest too much, methinks” (Hamlet).

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Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

“I hope I live to see the day,” reads the subject line of an email I received a few days ago; the body continues: “That you are dead and rotting in hell along with your grandparents.”

This email arrived two days after another email posed two questions: “Did you really say those vile comments about Rush Limbaugh? Do you like civility or have you been misquoted?”

In the wake of Limbaugh’s death from cancer, conservatives and right-wing media have rushed to confront and chastise the incivility of anyone (especially professors) who expressed everything from glee to stating the facts around…


Vision is much more than source material for WandaVision.

“Am I normal?” Vin asks his sister Viv as they lift off the ground to leave school for home. Vin and Viv are the synthezoid teenagers of Virginia and Vision, the superhero associated with Marvel’s Avengers. This question comes after Vin is confronted during class in the first issue of Vision:

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Vision: The Complete Collection

This rendition of Vision (vol. 2, 2016), award-winning and critically acclaimed, sits behind the Disney+ series WandaVision by providing important and substantial backstories for Wanda and Vision but also because the Disney+ series and the twelve-issue comic book series share a framing: The normal American Family.

While WandaVision expands…


In mainstream education and parenting in the U.S., we must admit that most teaching about love and sex is either absent or normative (and harmful).

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Want Me, by Tracy Clark-Flory

“My first introduction to porn was in middle school watching the ‘scrambled channel’ to catch the few split seconds when the static morphed into a bare butt thrusting,” explains Tracy Clark-Flory, a journalist covering the sex industry, adding: “Officially, I thought of watching porn less as entertainment than instruction, an investigation into men’s desire more than my own.”

Clark-Flory notes that her experience is “typical” for young women, and her evolving lessons around pornography are powerfully framed as she further examines her earliest lessons:

It goes without saying: as I was growing up, no one had talked to me about…


As with Community, WandVision provides a perfect opportunity for rethinking what texts we present to students and how we help students navigate referential media.

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WandaVision

Early in the semester of my first-year writing seminar, we consider and reconsider openings in essays, an interrogation of students’ experiences with the mechanical “introduction” with the obligatory thesis sentence.

We examine, for example, several Beginnings from Barbara Kingsolver’s essays in High Tide in Tucson and Small Wonder. Two essay beginnings reveal the complexity of student awareness about genre, writing forms, and language/text conventions.

Kingsolver’s “Creation Stories” opens with “June is the cruelest month in Tucson, especially when it lasts until the end of July.” Students always struggle with tone (missing the exaggeration and humor), and completely miss the allusion…


Something cannot be a movement if it is anchored in doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results.

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(Source)

One of the defining moments of my first-year writing seminar is my reading aloud the first few paragraphs from A Report from Occupied Territory by James Baldwin.

This essay in The Nation from July 11, 1966, offers students dozens of powerful examples of compelling and purposeful writing, Baldwin at his best. But the circumstances of the essay are what first strike my students.

“There was a great commotion in the streets, which, especially since it was a spring day, involved many people, including running, frightened, little boys,” Baldwin writes. “They were running from the police.”

We note that Baldwin uses…


The simple view of reading missing the joy of reading.

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Photo by Alexis Brown on Unsplash

In the opening weeks of my first-year writing seminar, I introduce students to reading like writers (here and here), emphasizing that we are not reading to write literary analysis (as many of them have done for Advanced Placement Literature) but reading to explore and acquire moves and approaches for effective writing.

Since the first essay assignment is a personal narrative, I provide them with several essay examples and highlight “Peculiar Benefits” by Roxane Gay as a powerful model of what we are trying to accomplish — engaging the reader with personal narrative in order to ask the reader to consider…


Bill 3613 is making the same mistake political leaders have been making since the 1980s.

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Photo by Samantha Hentosh on Unsplash

South Carolina is poised with Bill 3613 to continue the historical failures of addressing reading in South Carolina through micromanaging legislation that has not resulted in improving home, community, individual equity or learning outcomes for students living in poverty, Black students, Emergent Bilinguals, or students with special needs.

Currently, I am in year 37 of teaching in SC, serving as a high school English teacher at Woodruff High for 18 years before moving to teacher education at Furman University for the past 19 years. …


Trash drafting acknowledges some key and often missing concepts essential for effective writing instruction.

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Photo by Gary Chan on Unsplash

Science fiction and fantasy author Elizabeth May recently offered a really excellent Twitter thread about “trash drafting.”

As a writer and teacher of writing, I was particularly drawn to the final Tweet in the thread:


I am contacting you with an urgent caution about Bill 3613 and the historical failures of addressing reading in South Carolina through micromanaging legislation that has not resulted in improving home, community, individual equity or learning outcomes for students living in poverty, Black students, Emergent Bilinguals, or students with special needs.

Currently, I am in year 37 of being an educator in SC, serving as a high school English teacher at Woodruff High for 18 years before moving to teacher education at Furman University for the past 19 years. …

Paul Thomas

P. L. Thomas, Professor of Education Furman University, taught high school English before moving to teacher education. https://radicalscholarship.wordpress.com/

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