Tracking down lit crit plagiarism leads to “discourses of madness”

Screen Shot 2014-11-19 at 12.37.17 PMThis one brings together a bunch of our favorite topics, including plagiarism, poetry, and predatory publishers. Look, alliteration!

Richard Lawrence Etienne Barnett, who often publishes under the name R-L Etienne Barnett, has been accused of plagiarizing at least 18 articles by other scholars, mostly analyses of French poetry, as well as duplicating his own work at least eight times.

Most recently, French literary theorist Michel Charles published a dissection of Barnett’s history of plagiarism on lit crit site Fabula. Barnett had sent an article to Poétique, the poetry journal Charles edits. Charles quickly realized something was amiss (all quotes in this post were originally in French, and have been translated via Google):

I found very odd two or three expressions that did not fit in the same vein as the rest (“Cloudy suspicion”, “trans-temporal literary career”, “saillamment”). These microdérapages led me to believe that the text could have been corrected, and corrected wrong…I could not find the key to this little stylistic mystery. Intrigued, I looked if, by chance, there was another version of this text. There was one: it was an article by Jacques Poirier published in 2009.

It’s not clear who Barnett is or what he does. He is listed at several places around the internet as the provost of for-profit college the University of Atlanta, but the U of A administration website doesn’t include his name. The only mention on is this poster from 2008 announcing that he’s the editor of a new journal put out by the institution, Virtualities: International Review of Distance Learning. The journal doesn’t appear in Google Scholar, and a U of A email address listed on the call for papers bounces.

In July, one of the journals in which Barnett has been accused of committing plagiarism, Neohelicon, put out a call for papers for a special issue edited by Barnett. The topic? “Discourses of madness.”

Here’s the list of Barnett’s plagiarism, compiled by Charles:

  1. Jean-Louis Cornille, “White, pretend and reality” Literature , 23, 1976 and Romane Review , 11/2, 1976 (Camus). Article plagiarized in 1999 and 2000: “The inaugural sham”, Symposium , 53/2, 1999; Semiotics of Camusian opening” Revista Letras , 53, 2000.
  2. Jan Baetens, “False and true marginal margins,” The Creator Spirit , 38/1, 1998. Article plagiarized in 2000, 2006 and 2010: “Poetic margins,” Revista Letras , 54, 2000; “Das palavras if calaram” Agulha-Revista de cultura , 52, 2006; “Autopsies center” Neohelicon , 37/2, 2010. (B. takes three plagiarism of delivery of the Creator Spirit that he himself directed. Thus, it steals a person he probably asked himself to participate in this issue. In addition, in its plagiarism, B. returns safely to the presentation he wrote for the original publication (?) – but with an approximate title and references pages erroneous Finally, it gives the subtitle to his second “copy. Prosopopéia para uma margem defunta “is the translation of the title Marc Blanchard gave his own contribution in this issue of The Creator Spirit . “Prosopopée for a Dead margin” This is called the daring.)
  3. André Ricard, “archaic and theater news,” Dalhousie French Studies , 41, 1997. Article plagiarized in 2001 and 2002: “Conventions and contemporary theater,” Journal of the History Theatre , 53, 2001; “Theatrical transpositions” Revista Letras , 58, 2002. (Note 1 of the authentic text, “text of the final conference APLAQA [Association of Acadian and Quebec Literatures Atlantic] in October 1996,” gives the note 1 of plagiarism, “a slightly modified text lecture at the School of Higher Studies in Social Science [ sic ] (Paris) in January 2002, “Loyalty to the last detail and a personal touch at the end..” This test synthesis would it have been viable without the long meditative interview with Gérard Genette made ​​me friendship in January 2002, in Paris? Too rare privilege. “)
  4. Philippe Met, “Word of circumstance,” Symposium , 55/2, 2001 (Du Bouchet). Article plagiarized in 2002, 2004 and 2006: “Semiotics of intertextuality,” Revista Letras , 57, 2002; “Postmodern adrift,” Nottingham French Studies , 43/3, 2004; “On the circumstantial poetic” Romane Review , 41/1, 2006.
  5. Jean-Pierre Martin, “The Origin of Painting”, French Forum , 16/3, 1991 (on Michaux). Article plagiarized in 2003 and 2004: “Désignifier plural” Revista Letras , 59, 2003; “Issues of the unrepresentable,” Romane Review , 39/1, 2004.
  6. Lucien Dällenbach, Mosaics , Ed. du Seuil, 1999, c. VII, p. 115 s. Plagiarized text in 2003, 2004, 2007 and 2008: “Culinary Nightmares, nausea narrative,” Revista Letras , 60, 2003; (See Note 17: “The work of Dallenbach, L. La Canne de Balzac Paris. Corti, 1996, provides as penetrating observations that newly-passed “Again audacity.) “La Guerre du goût” Romane Review , 39/2, 2004; “O fim back comilões – Para um novo paradigmatic cultural” Agulha-Revista de cultura , 58, 2007; (Final statement: “Stephen R.-L. Barnett (França, 1963) Tem atualmente dupla cionalidade, our lively e Estados Unidos Ensaista, crítico Literário, philosopher e livros como editor Autor of… The post-modern to drift ( 1986), Beckettian Aporia (2002) Tests of the labyrinth (2005), e Shakespeare’s Antinomies: An Altered Visitation (2006) “). “On the chaotic fragmentation of meaning,” Neohelicon , 35/1, 2008. (At the end of the first plagiarism, B. expresses its thanks to Laurent Jenny, for the last two, she goes to Jean-Pierre Dupuy.)
  7. John Plotz, “Objects of Abjection,” Twentieth Century Literature , 44/1, 1998 (on Genet). Article plagiarized in 2005: “Of Hermeneutics and Difference,” Orbis Litterarum , 60/5, 2005.
  8. Paul Raymond Côté, “Ellipse and reduplication,” Romanic Review , 85/1, 1994 (on Modiano). Article plagiarized in 2007 and 2012: “Representation and modianesques hiatus,” Orbis Litterarum , 62/1, 2007; “Absence and modianesques subterfuge” Neohelicon , 39/1, 2012.
  9. Zoe Christmas, “The departure of Arthur Rimbaud” Viatica 2007. Article plagiarized twice in 2007: “The endless start,” Romane Review , 42/2, 2007; “Poetics of flight”, The Romance Letters , 61 / 1-2, 2007.
  10. Pierre Neveu, “Cioran or illness of eternity”, French Studies , 37/1, 2001. Article plagiarized in 2008, 2009 and 2011: “The temporal issues or cioranienne rage,” The Romance Letters , 62 / 1-2, 2008; “Cioran and the temporal abyss,” Romane Review , 44/1, 2009; “Apories cioraniennes” Neohelicon , 38/1, 2011.
  11. Jean-Pierre Martin, “The critical and voice,” French Studies , 39/1, 2003. Article plagiarized in 2008. “Issues of the word” Neohelicon , 35/2, 2008. Eric P. Levy, “The Mimesis of Metempsychosis in Ulysses , ” Philological Quarterly , 81/3, 2002. Article plagiarized in 2009: “The semiotics of ‘Transit’ in Joyce’s Ulysses , ” Neohelicon , 36/1, 2009.
  12. Michel Lacroix, “A brilliant discretion” Tangent , 80, 2006 (on Paulhan). Article plagiarized in 2011. “The Myth of the gray eminence,” The Romance Letters , 65 / 1-2, 2011.
  13. Stéphane Baquey, “Denis Roche, the rage of expression,” Pretext , 21/22, 1999. Article plagiarized twice in 2011: “Transgressive Games,” Romane Review , 46/1, 2011; “The events of the maze rochien” Neohelicon , 38/2, 2011.
  14. Jacques Poirier, “Discontents meaning” French Studies , 45/1, 2009 Article plagiarized in 2013: “Around the Void” Neohelicon , 40/1, June 2013. (Under a new title, this is the article that was recently proposed Poetics .)
  15. Laurent Demanze “The possessed and the dispossessed,” French Studies, 45/3, 2009. Article plagiarized twice in 2013: “Words dislocated” Neohelicon , 40/2, 2013; “Poetics of the spectral break,” Romane Review , 48/1, 2013.
  16. René Audet, “Places and pragmatic monstrosity in the narrative prose of Eric Chevillard,” Tangent , 91, 2009. Article plagiarized in 2014: “Words adrift” Neohelicon , 41/1, 2014.
  17. Audrey Camus, “The strange lands of the insignificant,” French Studies , 45/1, 2009. (This article belongs to the same collection that section of Jacques Poirier, No. 15. B. took the last words of Audrey Camus contribution to titrate plagiarism Jacques Poirier he proposed Poetics “[ …] modern fantasy takes the reader to the toils of the insignificant“- I emphasize result of this loan: this plagiarism is put in relation to plagiarism No. 15. Also audacity)..
  18. Article plagiarized in 2014: “Désignifier plural” Neohelicon July 2014. (B. has used this title for plagiarism on Michaux published in Revista Letras , Case No. 5) [1] .

Accusations of plagiarism — or at least duplication, aka self-plagiarism — have been following Barrett since at least 2001, when Princeton French professor Volker Schröder published a book review, which included the assertion that Barnett’s introduction was an instance of self-plagiarism. From the 2001 review:

In summary, it seems that Richard Lawrence Barnett has managed a “coup” remarkable and certainly unprecedented in the Racine Education: write two essays and take eight separate publications in prestigious journals worldwide.

Barnett — who apparently claimed he belonged to the CNRS (France’s Centre national de la recherche scientifique) in a letter to Charles — is on the editorial board of the American International Journal of Biology. This certainly lends credence to Jeffrey Beall’s assertion that AIJB publisher American Research Institute for Policy Development is one of the world’s many “predatory publishers.”

We’ve reached out to Barnett, Schröder, Charles, and AIJB, and will update with anything else we learn.

In the meantime, we’ll take some solace in this Mark Twain quote, which appears in Barnett’s Neohelicon call for papers:

When we remember that we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and life stands explained.

12 thoughts on “Tracking down lit crit plagiarism leads to “discourses of madness””

  1. a bit mysifying.
    What benefit is there in plagiarizing that accrues to an author who is unconnected with any real life as an academic or scholar?

    1. There are real affiliations from the past if you look around: Drake University in Des Moines, LSU Shreveport, etc. In addition to the MSN address, he appears to have been offering up one at the (defunct) domain as recently as July.

    2. I was a post-baccalaureate student of Barnett’s in advanced French classes at Drake University in the early ’90s. I was traveling to Geneva regularly on business and wanted to bolster my French. He was and is a real person, just as Drake was and is a real, academic, not-for-profit university. I spent many enjoyable evening hours in his classroom and learned French from him to the point that I was elected to the Phi Sigma Iota Foreign Language Honorary. I even made a donation to Drake in his honor. At the time, he claimed to have a degree from the University of Geneva and told me in personal conversations that his mother was Swiss and his father was American. This, he claimed, had made him so bilingual that when the UN tested him they could not determine whether English or French was his native language. He also taught courses in two of the other official Swiss languages, Italian and German. He was kind and soft-spoken in the classroom—never a trace of bombast, he wore makeup and tended to hang out in coffee shops. His highly polished credentials even then seemed to me to be somewhat sketchy, because he claimed to have been at Case Western Reserve University and to have held the Treuhaft Fellowship there. I was an alumnus of CWRU and although Frederick A. Treuhaft was extensively involved in the history of that university, there was no Treuhaft Fellowship that I knew of or could find anything about. He left Drake about the time I completed my French work, claiming that he had been lured away to become the chairman of the language department at SUNY Buffalo, which he called “Buffalo State.” His tenure there (if any) was fortunately short-lived, and he moved through academic positions of progressively increasing prominence and prestige at institutions of progressively decreasing rigor and legitimacy. At some point I lost track of him, but I always thought well of his teaching, less well of his pseudo-gravitas. Since I have the dubious distinction of having studied under one of the great academic con artists of the last 100 years, every once in a while I Google him to see what he has been up to lately. When I find updates like this one, I try to leave a note like this.

    1. Thanks, I was going to look that up. Those who use Google Translate may have noticed that the English version is extremely garbled; usually understandable, but not good English at all. Don’t the contributions from readers make a difference to Google? Or is it machines all the way down? (“it’s turtles all the way down” she said, when asked to explain what was holding up the turtles that hold up the Earth. Anybody know where that comes from?)

  2. The only mention on is this poster from 2008 announcing that he’s the editor of a new journal put out by the institution, Virtualities: International Review of Distance Learning.

    The university’s “Points of Distinction” webpage still has them proudly boasting that

    The University has established a recognized online journal: Virtualities: International Review of Distance Learning (sanctioned by the Library of Congress: ISSN # 1941-7373). Inaugural volume to appear Fall 2009. Call for papers appears on numerous websites and is eliciting much positive attention and interest on the part of both prospective contributors and eager readers.


    It also features in a cached version of the university’s FB page (scrubbed, alas):

    A host of recently-developed initiatives ( […] the founding of a new journal, Virtualities: International Review of Distance Learning – Library of Congress ISSN: 1941-7373 […] ) — signal the breadth and scope of the university’s vision, its unwavering commitment to the high-pitched standards, to accelerated momentum as well as its resolve to offer respected, intensive programs of first-tier caliber via the most progressive and effective modes of delivery.

    The journal still resonates in ghost form in the current CV of its managing editor Mary Jo Muratore, and in the CV of co-editor Dr. Anju Kanwar, neither of them troubled by the absence of duties accompanying the title.

    I am inclining more and more to the theory that R-L Etienne Barnett is actually a character from a Borges story who’s gone feral.

    1. Internet Archive “Wayback Machine” archives of from late 2009 and early 2010 have a “Provost’s Welcome” page from

      Dr. RL Etienne Barnett
      University Provost and Dean of Faculty
      Executive Vice-President of Operations
      Frederick A. Treuhaft Foundation Distinguished Professor

      The last capture of that page is August 2010. The September 2010 catalog (still the current catalog!) has no entry for the provost or “Executive Vice-President of Operations” (despite several references to the offices in the text) and lists James Williams as the Dean of Faculty.

  3. In the meantime, we’ll take some solace in this Mark Twain quote, which appears in Barnett’s Neohelicon call for papers:

    From the same source, the tag from Kundera also seemed appropriate for the world of academic publication:

    Culture is perishing, as are we … in an avalanche of words, in sheer madness.

  4. Is it normal that on the website of Neohelicon journal (Springer) I do not find any references to the call for papers?

    Another 2013 publication of the same “call for papers”?

    I already published in Springer journals (and already been a reviewer), and the practice is to submit articles to the online system (Editorial manager). It seems very strange that the call for papers only give email addresses of the inviting editor.

    Furthermore, to a French speaker, the second address ( sounds like a joke: “humour au second degré” means something like “offbeat humor”. Actually, the domain name “” doesn’t exist !

    Predatory plagiarist?

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