Contributing writer

Anna M. Gibbs

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An Empire of Signs

It was the first and last time he plagiarized. The fear of getting caught was a powerful motivator in not doing so again, but the greater motivation was his realization that he had something to say, and that never again would he allow someone else to say it for him.

Even Black Sheep are Sheep

Despite our modern insistence on giving credit where credit is due, history doesn’t remember the accurate “first” of much anything. Scores of scientific inventions are attributed to either the wrong individual or only one contributor of many.

It Takes a Village: On Inspiration

Early 1900s, Switzerland. A foreigner buys a postcard entitled “Der Berggeist” (“the mountain spirit”) and decorated with a painting of a bearded figure in a forest, extending his hands to a white fawn. On the postcard’s paper cover, the man scrawls “The origin of Gandalf.”

Shall I Compare Thee to a Preexisting Poem

Unlike in academia, plagiarism in poetry is intended to be found out. Poetic references are a boon to the art form, not a crime committed by the poet.

It’s Been Said Before

In its most innocent form, copying is a compliment. Imitation stems from inspiration—we copy what we like.