Monday, June 25, 2012

Plagiarism Corner: Open University lecturer, not student, 'borrows' a book from Crowley

It's hard to be *quite* this blatant - ripping off Aleister Crowley and publishing his poems under your own name. Ditto with a short story by Dylan Thomas - and many others. I should insert "allegedly" in front of those, though the gank from Crowley is pretty obvious and easy to check out for yourself.

Most of the information here came from Alex Boot Camp Keegan, who replied in the comments section to an article in the Daily Telegraph about Open University lecturer Dr. Joanne Benford. The Telegraph article said,
Dr Joanne Benford, a teacher of creative writing, is accused of multiple instances of copying the works of other writers and passing them off as her own over two decades.
One of her short fiction collections, Down By The Water, features a story called Holiday Memory. It appears to be a verbatim copy of a radio play of the same name written by Dylan Thomas and first broadcast on the BBC in 1946.
The allegations came to light after Alex Keegan, an author of short fiction, discovered a work called Postcards From BalloonLand in another book by Dr Benford, called Coming Up For Air.
In the comments, Alex Keegan suggests that Dr. Benford's Music of the Spheres is taken in large part verbatim from Aleister Crowley's The Rite of Eleusis. And this can be checkd as the OTO puts up original Crowley writings on the web. (I wouldn't like to be the lawyer who had to check out who owns Crowley's copyrights after all these years, but I'm willing to bet it's not Joanne Benford.) Google books has a preview of Benford's Spheres - not sure if she can take that down, but just in case, here's a screenshot:

  And here's some of the Crowley text of Eleusis:

Sweet, sweet, when Lion and Maiden,
The motley months of gold,
Swoop down with sunlight laden,
And eyes are bright and bold.
Life-swelling breasts uncover
Their warm involving deep--
Love, sleep!--
And lover lies with lover
On air's substantial steep.
Ah! sweeter was September--
The amber rain of leaves,
The harvest to remember
The load of sunny sheaves.
In gardens deeply scented,
In orchards heavily hung,
Love flung
Away the days demented
With lips that curled and clung.
Ah! sweeter still October,
When russet leaves go grey,
And sombre loves and sober
Make twilight of the day.
There's a lot more. The Open University is looking into it - they don't check their lecturers' non-work-related writing for plagiarism because why would they? It's usually the students who are attempting to filch things and pass them off as their own. 


Mike said...

Seems fair enough. You've heard of creative accounting? This is creative writing.

Peromyscus said...

You're right. It's certainly creative.

Alex Keegan said...

Hi, you've made the point that the OU doesn't (have to) check non-academic work, but fiction and poetry pubs are part of a CW Tutor's qualifications, surely?

Second, quotations "from Benford's work" were on the OU site and the briefest glance would have spotted them as thefts.

Third, it now turns out that large chunks of her PhD are clearly plagiarised and Sunderland University are investigating

Alex Keegan

Peromyscus said...

Well, the third thing, at minimum, should prove very interesting. Has anyone out there any idea why people think they can get away with this?

JoHnny ~ said...

hahaHa..Oliver Haddo was himself a thief..wot does that prove..??
u can jail me for the thoughts in my head ~


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