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The Magna Carta Essay: It's Still ALIIIIVE! [Dec. 27th, 2011|03:36 am]
henchminion
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Back in 2005 I did an evil, evil thing. Discovering the proliferation of websites where student plagiarists could copy essays, I wrote a Trojan horse paper about the Magna Carta and seeded it on a few plagiarism sites. The essay is basically wrong from beginning to end. Amongst other silliness, it claims that King John's titles included Duke of Hazzard, and observes that "peasants were reduced to eating burage and socage." It also invents a fictitious war against Flanders Fland (a region on the coast of Luxembourg) and cites such scholarly tomes as Bollock and Maidenhead's classic Interminable History of the English Law.

Every once in awhile, I google a few phrases from the paper to see how it's gettting along in the wild. Over the years, the two seed essays I planted have spawned a dozen or so Google hits at various disreputable sites. Sometimes they even want you to pay to see the whole text. However, for years I had no idea if any student had actually handed the thing in.

Until tonight.

Oh my, oh my. The wording has been changed somewhat and some of the jokes were excised, but that's my essay there. Ranulf de Glanville has been changed from the Sheriff of Nottingham to "a mercenary of John," which totally wrecks the reference to Alan Rickman in the bibliography. (The student is probably too young to have seen that movie.) But since he's not Canadian, the bit about the notwithstanding clause sailed right past him.

He quotes the words "Discipulus tuus hunc tractatum non scripsit" in caps lock, but the professor for the course was an Americanist, so maybe he didn't get it? Did the paper pass? The student seems to have managed to graduate. Apparently he even minored in Latin!

Aaron Kerzner of Boston, I blow my nose at you.

ETA: The plagiarism sites now seem to want you to register in order to see the whole essay. You can read it in its entirety here.

Update: Good heavens, this post seems to be going viral out in the Twitter-sphere. For the record, it was not actually I who submitted it to CollegeMisery.com. Amusingly enough, I didn't know about that blog until I found my work copied and pasted there.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: deliasherman
2011-12-27 03:10 pm (UTC)
Oh. Wow. I'm impressed. On oh, so many levels. Not surprised, mind you--only that it didn't show up sooner. But what a tour de force of silliness!
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[User Picture]From: henchminion
2011-12-27 10:06 pm (UTC)
*Blush* Thank you!

That reminds me, I've been meaning to read The Fall of Kings.
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[User Picture]From: zornhau
2011-12-27 06:58 pm (UTC)
Nice writing style you have as well.
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[User Picture]From: henchminion
2011-12-27 08:21 pm (UTC)
I think I was channeling all those nineteenth-century Oxbridge scholars. Comes of having to read a thousand pages of The History of English Law. :-)
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[User Picture]From: zornhau
2011-12-27 08:27 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: henchminion
2011-12-27 10:03 pm (UTC)
Hee!
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From: (Anonymous)
2011-12-27 09:01 pm (UTC)
This is fabulous. I am full of admiration (for you, not Aaron). I _love_ the Latin quotation!
Mark in Santa Barbara
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[User Picture]From: solri
2011-12-27 09:07 pm (UTC)
Excellent - I'm reminded of 1066 And All That.
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[User Picture]From: petmyrhino
2011-12-27 09:15 pm (UTC)
i so want to get in on the trojan horse essay action!
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[User Picture]From: henchminion
2011-12-27 10:02 pm (UTC)
Go for it! I think it's the only way to combat online essay mills.
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From: (Anonymous)
2011-12-27 10:04 pm (UTC)
My best guess at the Latin: "Your student didn't write this paper?"
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[User Picture]From: henchminion
2011-12-27 10:23 pm (UTC)
You got it!
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[User Picture]From: l_clausewitz
2011-12-28 09:32 am (UTC)
Heh. Makes you wonder about how much honest effort the former student is putting into his present career....
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[User Picture]From: noelle_k
2011-12-29 08:37 pm (UTC)
He's on Facebook too. Makes me want to message him with this link. Ha!!
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From: (Anonymous)
2011-12-31 06:04 pm (UTC)
Dear Henchminion:

Sorry, we got this link from someone and we assumed it was his own blog. We hope you don't mind our linking to it. It seems to have caught the interest of our readers.

Best wishes,
College Misery
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From: williamfitz
2012-01-02 05:57 am (UTC)
I love to participate this type of blog post where people come for the purpose of learning.
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From: Julian Ross
2012-01-05 10:55 pm (UTC)
Was Magna Carta the time when the thirsty barons rebelled over the runny mead? King John hoped for a more mature response however Norman Wisdom was a bit on the short side.
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[User Picture]From: henchminion
2012-01-06 07:26 pm (UTC)
Yes indeed. I see you've been using the same sources as I have. :-)
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[User Picture]From: lizbetann
2012-01-09 01:16 am (UTC)
Got here from In the Middle > College Misery > Googling "Aaron Kerzner magna". Love!
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[User Picture]From: rainbow
2012-01-09 02:18 am (UTC)
here via a friend's link and i'm all asquee. there's so much to love, but the mistranslated latin and the alan rickman citation are leading the pack at this precise moment.
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[User Picture]From: jerel
2012-01-09 03:18 am (UTC)
Hi, here from another link.

Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. I must say, I really enjoyed the original paper, although I am not familiar with Mr. Rickman's scholarly tome. ;)

Honestly, I wish a student had handed me this as an assignment. Because first I would laugh myself silly. Then I would make a copy to pass around to the history department, the English department, and the Latin teacher. The "F" would come after that.
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[User Picture]From: ozisim
2012-03-09 03:47 pm (UTC)
(Here via google while searching for something TOTALLY unrelated.)

Hist203L:Dimentions of History Lab

Seriously, is this student not even able to get the name of their class right, or is that an accepted American spelling thing?
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