FDR American Badass, the Final Showdown

fdr -american-badass!-large-pictureA while ago I blogged a couple of times about FDR American Badass! (here, here and here for instance) because I was thinking about it a great deal. Following those blogposts, I’ve presented my thoughts about it in various contexts (Spui25, Jusmenacu 2013, the University of Amsterdam’s American Culture Seminar – thanks everybody, for your great feedback!!) and have been working on an article about this film and FDR as a popular but problematic icon embodying American masculinity. Now it looks as though that paper will be published in a real academic peer-reviewed journal. This is important for me, for all sorts of cv and academic recognition-type reasons, but also strange. I’m going to put some finishing touches on it in the coming two weeks, and then I’ll probably let it go and look for new things to think about. That’s good and right and as it should be (after all, this is a very intriguing and in some ways culturally revealing movie I think, but it’s also obscure). But there is much more to say about it than I have so far!

One thing I really like about blogging is that there is no definite end to thinking about something on a blog. Of course the same is supposed to be true of the academic debate in general, but my sense is that that debate is more of a real discussion online than in proper journals. However proper they are, and however good it is to also come to a finite ending with something. I am torn about the issue. Saying “this is the very best I can do, please peer review, edit and print this and let others judge it” has an addd value to blogging about something endlessly without ever committing to a final product. But saying that also means ending a development in insight that actually doesn’t and shouldn’t end.

It is in this context that I don’t really get the current (at least in the Netherlands) debate about “self-plagiarism” (self-quotation is a more accurate and less normative word). My paper definitely contains phrases and probably sentences I have used previously on this blog. Things I have written here and that staid with me and seemed to hold water have made it into the article, unlike the rest. I would say self-quotation is crucial to the creative process. Actually, the part that I find at times embarrassing, is precisely the extent to which the eventual product deviates from what I have previously claimed here. But I don’t even know yet whether I’ll be able to make the article available here so perhaps (hopefully…) you’ll never find out.

Over Sara Polak

Blog about my research: The World We Live In Today Is FDR's World
Dit bericht is geplaatst in (New) Media, Miscellaneous, New Deal & WWII. Bookmark de permalink.

5 reacties op FDR American Badass, the Final Showdown

  1. Josje schreef:

    An important point in the recent (Dutch) debate about “self-plagiarism” has to do with the phenomenon of multiple authorship – much more common in the sciences than in the humanities. It’s about “reusing” text written by, or at least claimed by, a number of (co)authors, sometimes ten or more, of which you are only one. The re-user may be or may be not the most important one. So, in your case, don’t worry!

  2. Sara Polak schreef:

    Thanks Josje!
    And yes, that is one important point I didn’t make, but of course you shouldn’t – at all, ever, in my opinion – claim collective work as exclusively yours. In this and other things I agree entirely with the straightforward guidelines provided by the KNAW (in Dutch): https://www.knaw.nl/nl/actueel/publicaties/correct-citeren. But what strikes me in that document and in other discussions of the issue, is the almost automatic assumption that repeating yourself, with huge, small or eventually hardly any revisions is an attempt to “milk” findings or material, when in my experience it is really part of the process. A process that I share a lot about as it is evolving – which in itself helps me (as well as hopefully at times my readers) to develop my thoughts. This means I regularly say stupid things for everyone to see, and that I often backtrack on things I’ve claimed previously. And when I have finally argued something convincingly, I may repeat that bit elsewhere. This practice (blogging, seeking connections with various audiences, valorization) is highly encouraged by universities, but that also means self-repetitions or self-contradictions are likely to become more publicly visible.

  3. Josje schreef:

    I suppose there is kind of a grey area (is this English?) between ‘milking’ your findings and a genuine process of evolving knowledge. Especially if the ‘repetition’ occurs on different platforms – tweets, blogs, conference talks and some (not too many) articles in peer reviewed journals – I looks perfectly okay to me. On the other hand, researchers who claim to be (co)author of more than twenty or thirty articles a year, all of them in high impact journals (one article every fortnight?) raise more doubts. By the way, I’ve never heard complaints about selfplagiarism when one author contradicts herself 😉

  4. Sara Polak schreef:

    Yes, that’s definitely a grey area (and that’s definitely a fine expression, at least in my not-so-tolerant book ;-)) And I think we should be more aware of that. Things related to academic integrity easily seem too clear cut, so we tend to assume we all think the same things and have the same norms, without discussing these issues except in “cases”, that are then suddenly very explosive.

    And no, contradicting yourself is by definition no selfplagiarism but the very opposite. Yet I’m inclined to be more embarrassed by that, than by sticking to my original point (wrongly so, because insights can and do develop, but still).

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