- Tainted by Association
TDR congratulates Branislav Jakovljevic, winner of the Association for Theatre in Higher Education's (ATHE) 2009 Outstanding Article Award. His essay "From Mastermind to Body Artist: Political Performances of Slobodan Milošević" appeared in TDR 52:1 (T197). Jakovljevic is Assistant Professor of Drama at Stanford University and TDR Books Section Editor.
Tainted by Association
In TDR: The Drama Review 53:1 (T201) Spring 2009, you wrote:
The trend toward short "introductory" guides such as the Routledge Performance Practitioners series and the Theory 4 series shifts already stretched editorial resources away from harder-to-edit, longer, original high-level scholarship based on primary research. Plagiarism is an extreme example of this "use it over and over again" mentality.(18)
I want to express concern about the way in which you (1) casually link the Routledge Performance Practitioners series and the Theory 4 series, and (2) imply that the RPP volumes are not based on primary research and are a product of the "use it over and over again mentality."
I have no objection to your accurate description of the RPP series as "introductory," and am quite open to listen to feedback on what works and doesn't work in each volume, (as well as to criticism of my editing skills). What I object to is the placing of the RPP series alongside the Theory 4 series, in the context of a discussion of plagiarism, without any further qualification. Such a conjunction could be seen to taint the RPP series, and, by association, its 20 authors, with the charge of plagiarism. That is an unacceptable slur on the character and integrity of the RPP contributors, more than half of whom published their first book as part of the series.
Whilst I agree that a marketing emphasis on introductory books means that there are fewer resources to devote to supporting and producing high-level academic texts, I disagree that introductory books are necessarily devoid of the results of high-level scholarship based on primary research. All of the RPP books, for example, are based on significant primary research, at least in part, even if the results of that research are presented at an introductory level. But you not only link the RPP series to Theory 4's contractually sanctioned plagiarism and suggest that it doesn't involve higher-level scholarship based on primary research, you also imply that the RPP series is an example of the "use it over and over again mentality." Again this seems to me to be an unwarranted attack on the RPP series and to come from a rather conservative position. [End Page 12]
Now, to me, the most obvious series Routledge is publishing that fits the "use it over and over again mentality" description is the Worlds of Performance series edited by you and made up of volumes of recycled TDR essays that can easily be accessed on JSTOR or Project Muse. If there's a slippery slope from the "use it over and over again mentality" to plagiarism then . . .
But I reject the idea that recycling necessarily leads to plagiarism. The Worlds of Performance series is aimed at a different level of reader from the RPP series, but neither of us is seriously suggesting that either series is in the same genre of publication as Theory 4. That all three series and their editors and authors are tangled up in the world of corporate publishing is true, but I can't imagine knowingly agreeing to the contract that Beal and Deal did, can you?
So, I'd like you to publish a statement to the effect that you intended no disrespect to the authors of the RPP series and apologise for any distress caused.
On another, but related point, we must never forget the complicity of the management of the academy and academics themselves in the corporate culture of publishing. Is it Routledge's fault that you agreed to the recycling of TDR essays, or that I agreed to edit a series of introductory books?
best wishes (truly!)
Lecturer in Drama and Theatre Studies