Advanced Placement English Language and Composition 1
Instructor: Michael Thornton
December 4, 2009
There are three ideas emphasized in the packet distributed on ownership: “words and
ideas” and the concept of plagiarism; ownership of “our bodies”; and “music” ownership.
The following topics pertain to each idea:
Words and Ideas
Since writing is self-expression, plagiarism is a form of
Do you share your ideas? How?
Should words and ideas be trademarked?
What do you think of reproductive rights?
Will cloning become as commonplace as in vitro
Is deafness a cultural choice?
If you were a musician, would you share your music for free?
Can art, or music, inflict harm? Should it be controlled?
Is hiphop about self-gratification, or community?
Will internet music streaming develop the way radio has?
For each idea, a group of students will consider these questions and others raised by the
essays. Each group will write a prompt that defines one major question that these essays
evoke. The prompt should quote from at least one of the essays in the section, and use
the terms “defend, challenge, or qualify”.
On Friday, December 4, students came up with four of the following prompts (with some
editing and additions on the part of the instructor; the other three were composed by
previous years’ students). Students should choose one of these to answer in a synthesis
argument essay due Monday, December 11. The essay should be 1-2 typed pages.
Students have Friday, December 11, to work on it in class.
1. In his essay In Defense of Plagiarism, Christopher Hitchens quotes T.S. Eliot as
stating, “…immature poets imitate, mature poets steal.” This implies that
plagiarism should be condoned as its use creates a greater work of art. Defend,
challenge, or qualify the statement that there is so little that is new in the arts that
originality should not be an issue.
2. In her essay “ Victims from Birth”, Wendy McElroy writes, “Scientists and
philosophers have been debating the morality of new reproductive technologies
that may allow us to design ‘perfect’ human beings.” Men diagnosed with
Huntington’s disease are legally forbidden to donate their sperm. Defend,
challenge, or qualify the statement that similar limitations should be placed on
men with genetically acquired disabilities such as deafness and blindness.
3. According to Ralph Caplan in his essay What’s Yours, “Dickensian court battles
rage over whether families own in perpetuity the images of their celebrity
ancestors”. Defend, challenge, or qualify the idea that an artist’s descendants
have exclusive rights to their ancestor’s work and ideas.
4. When William Styron wrote about Nat Turner’s uprising, African-Americans
challenged his right to write about this experience, on the grounds that it belonged
to them collectively and exclusively. Defend, challenge, or qualify whether a
group of people can own the rights to an event in history.
5. Janis Ian has argued that “the act of downloading music seems virtually
harmless”; yet the professional organizations that represent artists and labels
suggest that “free downloads are destroying sales, costing artists money and
ruining the music industry.” Defend, challenge, or qualify the statement that the
public at large would lose out in a significant financial way if all music were
available for free downloading from the Internet.
6. In the article “Victims from Birth” by Wendy McElroy, Sharon Duchesneau is
referred to as saying that deafness is a culture, a choice she wishes to make for her
son and his older sister. Do you believe that deafness is a culture? Defend,
challenge, or qualify whether parents should be allowed to make such a choice for
7. With advances in technology, parents can now decide how their children will
view the world. “Victims from Birth” by Wendy McElroy comments that such
genetic engineering could lead to laws prohibiting forms of technology that could
cure forms of cystic fibrosis in embryos. Defend, challenge, or qualify the ethical
implications of genetically altering embryos.