Retraction Watch

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UNLV English professor fired for plagiarizing Updike, Said, Zizek, and more

with 4 comments

via UNLV.

Mustapha Marrouchi, via UNLV

An English professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, has been fired after the discovery that a huge portion of his work from the last two decades contains material lifted wholesale from some of the world’s best writers and thinkers.

Mustapha Marrouchi was first accused of plagiarism in 1992, when he ripped off an essay by W.J.T. Mitchell in the London Review of Books. Then in 1999, a letter by lecturer Stephen Howe appeared in the LRB, accusing Marrouchi of an “almost verbatim” theft of one of Howe’s book reviews:

I’d been following the exchanges provoked by Terry Eagleton’s assault on Gayatri Spivak with great interest when I encountered the letter from Mustapha Marrouchi (Letters, 1 July). A particularly devastating polemic, I thought: vigorous, well informed, and spiced with some rather good jokes. But then I would think that – for the letter is an almost verbatim, complete transcription of my review of Spivak’s previous book, published in the New Statesman in February 1994. Maybe, in line with the old clichés about imitation and flattery, I should be pleased that someone thought a five-year-old book review of mine was worth plagiarising in the LRB. (I have received an apology from Mr Marrouchi.)

The extent of Marrouchi’s plagiarism has become public knowledge thanks to a detailed investigation by the Chronicle of Higher Education, beginning with “Anatomy of a Serial-Plagiarism Charge” in August 2014. He was fired on November 7, after the results of a university investigation determined that 23 of the 26 papers he published between 2008 and 2013 contained plagiarized passages.

Marrouchi took words from many luminaries, including some that he critiqued, such as Edward Said. Ironically, he also plagiarized philosopher Slavoj Žižek, who was the subject of his own plagiarism scandal earlier this year. Perhaps most eyebrow-raisingly, Marrouchi plagiarized whole passages from Salman Rushdie’s London Review of Books essay “Imaginary Homelands” in an essay he then sold as a memoir of his own childhood.

He didn’t confine his sources to the hallowed halls of literary criticism. From the Chronicle:

In a 2008 essay on Al Qaeda published in the journal Callaloo, for example, he reprinted, without attribution, much of a review of the movie 300 written by the New Yorker staff writer David Denby the year before.

One person on the disciplinary committee didn’t agree that Marrouchi should be fired. According to the Chronicle:

The committee voted, 4 to 1, in favor of his dismissal, with the dissenter arguing that instead he should be suspended for a year and required to forfeit six years’ worth of pay increases, apologize to his victims, undergo ethics training, and submit to plagiarism-software analysis any scholarly work he intends to submit to publishers over the next three years.

The professor was paid handsomely for his busy schedule of stealing; according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, his 2013 base salary was $125,835. The gravy train has stopped for now, though. Marrouchi’s faculty page at the UNLV website now simply states:

Dr. Mustapha Marrouchi is no longer a member of the faculty at UNLV’s Department of English.

Written by Cat Ferguson

December 4th, 2014 at 2:30 pm

Comments
  • maria December 4, 2014 at 3:39 pm

    Well, the suggestions from the lone dissenter may have amounted to a worse punishment than simple dismissal at this point.

  • herr doktor bimler December 4, 2014 at 6:57 pm

    after the discovery that a huge portion of his work from the last two decades contains material lifted wholesale

    “The last two decades” is just the minimum. We only know that people have been complaining about his plagiarism for the last two decades (and it’s taken until now until his institution took interest).

  • Bill December 5, 2014 at 11:39 am

    UNLV management were probably too busy hushing up scandals with the basketball team to worry about something as trivial as plagiarism on a massive scale…

  • Viva Zizek! December 5, 2014 at 6:12 pm

    “his 2013 base salary was $125,835”. So, let’s assume a handsome salary for at least 20 years, and factor in some inflation/deflation. Would it be safe to assume that a total of about 1.5 million US$ was raked in? And he lost his job. So, are we supposed to shed any tears for this mega-fraud? If anything, looking at his photo, seems like a nice way to retire. Just in time. How about jail time for 20 years, one for every year of fraud? Or maybe, even more useful, so that tax-payers’ money is not wasted, how about the next 20 years he have to do community service, banned from any academic positions for life, and no salary associated with the social work? This sounds like fair justice to me for the decades in which he has fooled, tricked and defrauded academics. Even so, I bet some social and human rights folks are actually going to try and stand up to defend this individual.

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