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January 17, 2005
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I begin this way because, poetry notwithstanding here, my subject today is history — especially this Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. We Americans celebrate it each January, of course. My own day I've spent preparing for a writing class tomorrow, one King has long figured in. Of interest has been a scholarly essay noting King's quoting of black clerics, but citing white, in My Pilgrimage to Non-Violence (Keith Miller, "Composing Martin Luther King, Jr." PMLA, January 1991).
Miller's claim is interesting. He explains how in borrowing from black preachers, King is not rightly to be charged, thoughtlessly, at least, with plagiarism. My students always take his essay to heart.
My purpose, however, is neither to commit nor commend such borrowing, but rather, in the interest of study, to inform solid, scholarly reading — which, as I tell my students, necessarily includes three key tasks:
Here I thought to note just the second, implicitly giving you the gist of Miller's essay. Fit to the task is an email I wrote Friday to a student who, down with an incipient cold, asked me for a short study update. Here is our exchange.
This short title, a classroom heuristic I use, will take the form tomorrow of "_____________, _____________, and the Idea of _________________." It helps my students inform their understandings of what I call an author's "conceptual topic." But tonight my topic is just bedtime, or, as Frost might say (echoing a prayerful rhyme), "Now I lay me down to sleep."Permalink
— And, with no remaining pedagogical miles to go!
Solid stuff, Styles. Thanks for the tips — which I intend to, uh, "borrow."
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