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Author: Arts and Letters


Susan D. Blum, associate professor of anthropology at the University of Notre Dame, is the author of a new book titled “My Word! Plagiarism and College Culture,” which explores the prevalence of plagiarism among American college students and why it exists.

Blum is a cultural and linguistic anthropologist who has been researching deception, truth, lying and cheating for several years, mostly in the context of China but also cross-culturally. In “My Word!” she examines in greater depth the specific area of plagiarism, in which those same accusations are made.

“My goal simply is understanding,” Blum said. “The book examines the complexity of student behavior using standard anthropological tools for holistic approach to a problem. I see my role as a translator of students’ culture to non-students through analysis of the perspectives of faculty, administrators and students. I neither excuse nor blame students for the behavior we lump together as ‘plagiarism.’ Rather than complaining about how ‘lazy’ or ‘distracted’ they are, I decided to investigate all the claims on their time, and I offer suggestions to help faculty and administrators better communicate with them.”

Blum, who served for five years as director of Notre Dame’s Center for Asian Studies, also is the author of “Lies that Bind: Chinese Truth, Other Truths,” which explores the ideology of truth and deception in China and elsewhere, as well as “Making Sense of Language: Readings in Culture and Communication,” and "Portraits of `Primitives’: Ordering Human Kinds in the Chinese Nation. She is co-editor of “China Off Center: Mapping the Margins of the Middle Kingdom.”

A member of the Notre Dame faculty since 2000, Blum was graduated from Stanford University. She earned master’s degrees in anthropology and Chinese language and literature and her doctoral degree in anthropology from the University of Michigan.

Contact: Susan Blum, 574-631-3762,

Originally published by Shannon Chapla at on February 11, 2009.

Originally published by College of Arts and Letters at on February 13, 2009.