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Why Do We Quote?

Ruth Finnegan

Appendix 1. Quoting the Academics

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1This appendix provides the occasion for inserting some of the ponderous academic quotation and allusion expected in an academic monograph. I didn’t include much of this in the opening chapters, preferring to get into some specific examples before boring on about my knowledge of earlier scholarship. But given the quoting requirements of this kind of scholarly text I don’t quite have the nerve to omit it altogether. Quotation furthermore pervades academic prose and lies at the heart of the so-called ’literature review’. It is doubly appropriate therefore to offer some discussion – and exemplification – of it here.

2Here then I elaborate on words and voices that I have called into play in this volume and, following that, reflect briefly on this genre of ’quotingful writing’ and my participation in it. My aim is to supplement the citations in the chapter footnotes – typical feature of academic quoting – by talking more directly about how I have myself used quoting, both direct and allusive. I propose, as Austin nicely put it of the words performing marriage (1962: 6), not just to ’report’ on this quoting-genre but to ’indulge’ in it.

Background to this study: citing the authorities

  • 1 On this see for example Atkinson et al. 2003, Coffey 1999, Collins and Gallinat 2010, Hertz 1997.

3Let me attempt, then, to relate my own path to that of the multiple others in the fields of scholarship where I have been walking, and do my own bit of quoting. Starting this way is to follow an academic fashion common in many humanities and social science monographs today of doing something to reveal my own personal stance and working procedures.1This approach is in part based on particular research epistemologies, especially in relation to ethnographic work, in part perhaps a confessional-sounding and not altogether disingenuous bid to grab the reader’s attention. More seriously it represents a responsibility to expose commitments and mechanisms that in other eras might have been decently concealed, and a self-reflective attempt to identify the writer’s own voice and participation as it interacts with others. The personal note in the opening sections of this book, especially the Preface and Prelude, accords with that tradition. So too does the ordering of this appendix.

4So – my own university experience was first in classical studies (Latin and Greek), to which I am to some extent returning in this volume and which has encouraged a lifelong interest in language, in literature and in history. Later I turned mainly to social anthropology, adding a more social science, present-focused and, perhaps, critical orientation to my earlier humanistic studies, and gaining the anthropologist’s experience of both ethnographic fieldwork and comparative cross-cultural study. My own publications have been consistently inspired by these overlapping and transdisciplinary literary, historical and anthropological backgrounds. This volume is no exception. It is not so unusual in its blurring of disciplinary boundaries, an increasing trend, perhaps, in the last quarter of a century where, as a recent handbook well puts it, ’the social and policy sciences and the humanities are drawing closer together in a mutual focus on an interpretive qualitative approach to research and theory’ (Denzin and Lincoln 2005: ix). Within that general orientation however the particular trajectory taken here is singular to this volume, bringing together as it does a down-to-earth account of people’s contemporary quoting with an exploration of the comparative and historical background that lies behind it.

5From this personal grounding I found, as explained in the Preface, that I was indeed interested in quoting and starting to be aware of its many ramifications. In some ways a vast literature surrounds it (some aspects captured in Hebel’s extensive bibliography, 1989). Quotations and their collecting attract huge interest, it seems, and both publishers and private enthusiasts produce a constant stream of compilations and commentaries (see discussion and footnotes in Chapter 5). Specific quotations have drawn fascinated attention, and there is a proliferating corpus of work on proverbs (Mieder 1982-, 2004a). A series of literary, historical and anthropological studies have examined aspects of the use or collection of quotations in particular places or periods (see footnotes Chapters 4-8), linguists and philosophers engaged in some highly technical analyses (mostly sidestepped here but see Chapter 4 footnotes), literary and cultural scholars developed a variety of approaches to allusion, citation or creativity (footnotes Chapters 7 and 8), and the topics of intertextuality, originality and appropriation become a focus of interest to, among others, cultural historians, educationalists and postmodernist scholars (footnotes Chapters 7 and 8).

  • 2 For example – to mention just a few at random – Brown 2006, Duranti 2001, Lentricchia and McLaughl (...)

6But amidst this profusion there seemed no direct treatment of the questions teasing me: about just what ’quotation’ and ’quoting’ were, how in practice they had been handled and conceptualised, and how we had got to where we now are. Despite the many analyses of detailed points or viewpoints, a surprising number of the more general overviews of literary and linguistic topics seemed to ignore the subject. I grew accustomed to finding nothing on ’quoting’ or ’quotation’ in the indexes of books in fields in which, I felt sure, these concepts – and under those labels – would have been intensely relevant.2Even those that did pursue it often stayed with grammatical technicalities or pedagogical rulings, treated some aspect of the western literary canon as if self-evidently universal, focused on just one particular case, or leant towards being books of quotations rather than about quotation. All these were indeed of interest but not what I was looking for.

7Some works did promise to come closer to engaging with my questions. But even here the quotations themselves often tended to take over (a temptation I too had to fight against). Niger Rees’ Why do We Quote? (1989) opened with a ’short answer’ to his question: it’s because ’other people have said things memorably and well in such a way that we would rather repeat their phrases than mint new ones of our own’ (Rees 1989: 1). But he does not take this further and immediately qualifies it by adding,

But that is not really what the book is about. If it answers the question ’Why do we quote?’ at all, it does so by demonstrating how the quotations it deals with arose in the first place and how they have been used subsequently
(Rees 1989: 1).

8After a scanty Preface the book turns into an attractively presented collection of 500 or so alphabetically arranged quotations, each with a commentary explaining its origin and giving examples of subsequent occurrences.

9Something the same thing happens in James Geary’s appealing The World in a Phrase. A Brief History of the Aphorism (2005). This is a popular celebration of aphorisms by a self-styled ’aphorism addict’: well-informed, full of insights and entertainingly presented, but not really a ’history’. Marjorie Garber’s Quotation Marks (2003) has a wonderfully illuminating first and, in part, second chapter on quote marks and quotations which started me thinking but after that does not get directly into the kind of issues covered here. Christopher Ricks’ Allusion to the Poets (2002) too, an authoritative and inspiring analysis and exemplification of allusion / quotation in English literature and central to Chapter 7, again has little on other aspects, while Antoine Compagnon’s unfairly neglected La seconde main, ou le travail de la citation (1979), though overlapping with some of the ground here, again, as with Gérard Genette’s reflections on hypertextuality in Palimpsestes (1982), takes a more literary and abstract path. Willis Goth Regier’s readable and well-documented Quotology (2010), published as this book goes to press, does indeed tackle some of the issues explored here, not least in its account of quotation collections (pleasingly overlapping with that here) and in its perceptive and witty comments on some ways people have used quotations. But again the copious and alluring quotations provide the foreground. They are predominantly drawn from high-culture literary sources, and there is little treatment of the ’here and now’ of everyday use and its background.

  • 3 See for example Barber 2006, Barton and Hamilton 1998, Basso 1989, Bauman and Sherzer 1989, Boyari (...)

10My own approach started in part from similar enthusiasm for the literary texts. But it was also driven by a curiosity about how ordinary people – not just the great names of the past – were actually practising and thinking about quoting and quotations today: no doubt a typical question from an anthropologist. This led to the ethnographic focus of the earlier chapters, building on the now established tradition of the ethnography of speaking, writing and communication with its focus on close contextualised studies of everyday practices.3

  • 4 Amidst the large literature on this see for example Atkinson et al. 2003, Bryman 2008: 400ff, Davi (...)

11I use the word ’ethnography’ cautiously here for though of course a well-established research term it is at the same time somewhat slippery.4 It still basically indicates a systematic in-depth study of actual practice, contextualised at some particular time and place, but its meanings have shifted over the years. The traditional anthropological model of my own first experience pictured a holistic study based on prolonged and intensive firsthand participant observation overseas, prototypically by a single isolated researcher bringing back authoritative results to scholars at home. Nowadays with the rise of ’applied anthropology’ and fieldwork ’at home’, more light-touch and collaborative approaches have been emerging, often involving shorter more focused studies of particular topics and a wider range of methods, among them the development of one or more detailed case studies. There is also more interest than in the past in highlighting the researcher’s own participation in the research, often accompanied by extensive self-critical treatments of that experience: ’experimental, reflexive ways of writing first-person ethnographic texts are now commonplace’ (Denzin and Lincoln 2005: x). My own approach here, though certainly in some ways personal, does not go to the full reflexive and confessional extremes. It does however fall in with the somewhat thinner sense of ’ethnography’ current nowadays that allows for less lengthy personal immersion in systematic ’field’ research than in the traditional mode while still retaining a focus on a close study of people and their activities at a more or less limited time and place.

12The ethnographic dimension here therefore was based in part on my personal experience and observation. This is by now a familiar strategy. But it was less usual in its strategy of involving 200 or so other participant observers, and building on their experience and observations too. These were the volunteer contributors from the Mass Observation panel of writers described in Chapter 2 and further listed in Appendix 2 – themselves both ’natives’ and ’ethnographers’. Their responses to the open-ended set of loosely structured trigger questions (the ’directive’) that I sent out in autumn 2006 supplemented, extended and challenged my own input. To an extent it was already a dialogue for they were writing in terms set partly by me, partly by the vocabularies and resources of the time. They were also writing, as was their practice, with personal candour and with reflectiveness as well as observation, and came up with many things I had not known or – equally important – had in a way known but never noticed, as well as some things that surprised me and altered my perspective. They were providing insights not just ’information’: colleagues and co-researchers as well as – like myself – participants in the activities they were reporting and analysing. As others drawing on this panel have also found, these writers hugely enhanced my own understanding, and are extensively quoted in this book.

13Though in some circles still somewhat controversial, there is now substantial experience of this evolving Mass Observation panel – active since 1981 – and a growing literature on the methodology/ies involved. This eschews the quantitative tradition of social surveys or representative samples and overlaps rather with ’the plethora of ethnographic and participatory research which has been conducted both within and beyond academic contexts’ (Sheridan 1996: 3). I would echo the response of one analyst to the frequently-voiced charge that these self-selected volunteers are not statistically representative of the British population

Yet nor are they ’seriously unrepresentative’ either, being drawn from all classes, ages and areas with ’backgrounds comparable to a very high proportion of the British population at the end of the twentieth century’ (Thane 2001: 219). In any case the M-O Project does not aim for statistical generalisations but offers a qualitative complement or alternative. The ’telling cases’ that its evidence offers, both collectively and individually, allows for analytical generalisations not to populations but to theories and interpretations which can explain the ’how’ and ’why’ questions… rather than the statistical issues of ’how many’… [The] subjectivity, traditionally a source of criticism, becomes a source of strength
(Thomas 2002: 5).

  • 5 For examples and discussion of the uses of Mass Observation see Adams and Raisborough 2010, Bythew (...)

14Amidst the return in many circles to qualitative methodologies, the Mass Observation resources are currently the subject of active interest and debate among both humanist and social science researchers, drawing discussion in conferences, published works and electronic exchanges on such issues as ’representativeness’ as against singularity and diversity, and the relevance of concepts like ’studying ourselves’, the voices of ’ordinary people’, and ’everyday practices’.5

  • 6 See among others Bornat 1992, Chamberlayne et al. 2000, Perks and Thomson 2006, Sheridan 1996.

15This book includes extensive quotation from these anonymous members of the Mass Observation panel, most explicitly in Chapters 2 and 3 but also up to a point referred to throughout. A generation ago this might have seemed less natural, in some circles at least. But it is now consonant with many wings of current scholarship, not least the now well-established traditions of oral history, community writing, life history and participatory research.6It follows too the move in much social research away from the vocabulary of ’informants’ or ’subjects’ to ’colleagues’ and ’consultants’ or, at least, to individuals rather than statistical units, and individuals whose personal voices are worth hearing. And though the names of these British commentators have, as agreed, been kept confidential a list of their brief self-descriptions appears in Appendix 2, no less important than the list of written references that, in more conventional format, follows that. Not just the observations but the insightful reflections of these participant-observer writers form a continuing and illuminating thread throughout this study, and they are rightly quoted on a par with those many ’earlier scholars’ whose wisdom has also contributed to this volume. Contemporary as they are, they too are participants in both the action and analysis of quoting and their words and voices interpenetrate this text.

16But fundamental as it is to this study, an account of people’s quoting and quotations at a particular time and place did not seem to me sufficient. The subject needed a wider perspective as well. The traditional ethnographic viewpoint privileges a relatively short-scale and local focus. In this study, urged both by my experience of comparative work and my earlier interests in the ancient classical world, I longed to balance and contextualise this contemporary snapshot by a longer vision.

17That led into what seemed unlimited realms of enquiry. Some areas of potential relevance I steered away from. The volume does not attempt to take up issues of specialist linguistics or philosophy (though occasional matters are referred to), nor follow into the further reaches of poststructuralist or postmodernist theory. I have not tried to cover the complex and controversial history of the laws of copyright, engaged in detailed debates over the status or interpretation of specific texts, or given much attention to the many familiar quotations that are, according to recent researchers and collections (such as Knowles 2006), commonly misquoted or wrongly attributed.

18Even so what I was left with touched on almost every aspect, it seemed, of human action and expression through the ages. It brought me into contact with the work of multiple disciplines, chief among them being cultural anthropology, the anthropology and sociology of language and literature, cultural studies, folklore, sociolinguistics, communication, literary studies and cultural history. I found myself involved in the pleasurable experience of trespassing on many fields not my own. Each chapter consequently has a cluster of references associated with it, many of them listed in footnotes. After the more ethnographic Part I, later chapters delve among other things into the history of quotation marks (Chapter 4) which leads to such areas as the history of typography, scripts and books, as well as aspects of sociolinguistics and of cultural and literary history, Chapter 5 gets involved in lexicography as well as, again, literary history and work on specific quotation compilations, Chapter 6 in issues of orality and literacy, performance, paremiology, and auditory and visual communication, Chapter 7 in literary theory and rhetoric, especially to do with allusion, narratology, genre and – as in other chapters – a series of specific cases based on the wonderful specialist studies which abound in this area. Chapter 8 takes up questions around the concepts and history of authorship, plagiarism and copyright, the exercise of power, and the relevance to quoting of specific communication technologies, an arena above all where humanities and social sciences meet.

  • 7 For recent overviews see Cummings 2010, Robinson 2006, Verschueren and Östman 2009, also backgroun (...)

19Picking my way through this swirl of heterogeneous topics and approaches, I particularly drew on the syndrome of scholarship where cultural anthropology, folklore, literature, cultural studies and performance studies intersect. The general perspective here could be said to fall broadly within the pragmatist tradition that has touched many disciplines, here in particular an approach to language that turns the spotlight not on formal features but on human uses of language in context. With foundations in the pragmatist bent of earlier scholars like John Dewey or Kenneth Burke, anthropologists like Franz Boas and Bronislaw Malinowski, and J. L. Austin’s philosophical theory of speech acts and performative utterances, pragmatics is by now a recognised field within studies of language.7 Though not all scholars necessarily align themselves with this particular terminology, a recent summary is right to draw attention to the intrinsically interdisciplinary perspective shaping this general stance, characterising it as ’an approach to language which takes into account the full complexity of its cognitive, social and cultural (i.e. meaningful) functioning in the lives of human beings’ (Verschueren 2009: 19).

20This action- and context-oriented perspective on language is now evident across a range of areas, among them sociolinguistics, speech act theory, ethnomethodology, reception studies, conversation analysis, performance studies, linguistic anthropology and the ethnographies of communication. As exemplified vividly in M. M. Bakhtin’s work – by now a major influence – it extends to both ’ordinary’ and ’literary’ language. Laying less stress on either linguistic and grammatical technicalities or the formalist and structuralist approaches to text, it has turned scholars’ eyes rather towards process and context and, beyond this, to the role of multiple participants and voices in the actual practices of communication – something which demands study in specific cultural and historical realisation rather than in abstract, judgemental or universalising terms. It takes us beyond a limited canon of texts recognised by elite scholars into how people are actually acting – performing and entextualising – in more popular forms too and in the present of everyday living. The pragmatist concern with words used in the context of action rather than with language as an abstract, primarily cognitive or somehow independent system has helped to shape the account here.

  • 8 Notably in Bauman 1977, Bauman and Sherzer 1989, Ben-Amos and Goldstein 1975, Hymes 1975, 1977.
  • 9 9 For example Bauman 2004, Bauman and Briggs 1990, Duranti 2001, Duranti and Goodwin 1992, Hanks 1 (...)

21One thread in this general approach has been especially influential for this volume. This is the unfolding perspective associated with linguistic anthropology – so-called for short but in practice a notably interdisciplinary set of endeavours extending across literary and theatre studies as well as sociolinguistics, folklore and art. Its basic assumption, well summarised by Alessandro Duranti, is that ’to understand the meaning of linguistic messages one must study them within the contexts in which they are produced and interpreted’ (Duranti 2009: 31). He notes too the shift, evident since the 1960s, ’from an interest in what language encodes (reference, denotation) to what language does (performance)’ (Duranti 2009: 32; for further overviews see also Duranti 1997, 2004). A signal move was the so-called ’breakthrough into performance’ first enunciated in anthropology and folklore.8By now this has pervaded many disciplines, a highly productive strand running across literary, cultural and sociolinguistic studies and also crystallising in the now established field of performance studies (Schechner 2006). It signalled a break with a prime focus on fixed text and challenged the once taken-for-granted model of literary works as self-contained decontextualised entities. Scholars working from this orientation have produced a series of illuminating insights into, for example, reflexive language, dialogism, intertextuality and genre.9Between them they have provided much of the inspiration for this study. Let me highlight in particular the impressive cross-cultural collection Responsibility and Evidence in Oral Discourse (Hill and Irvine 1993), and Richard Bauman’s seminal A World of Others’ Words.Cross- Cultural Perspectives on Intertextuality (2004) with its eye to intertextuality as communicative practice through an analysis of both oral performances and literary records. This emphasis on language in context and use underpins the more ethnographic focus of Part I of this book and to a degree also runs through the later chapters.

22At the same time linguistic anthropology’s orientation challenged analyses limited to an ethnocentric western perspective and forwarded insights from explicitly cross-cultural studies. This comparative perspective is indeed consonant with the approach here. I have to admit however that within this vast arena my own treatment has been of only limited reach. Thus while I have indeed taken account of examples outside the here and now of contemporary England my main focus has been on the experience of ’the west’ and of the mainly European literary tradition. Examples and insights from around the world more widely are undoubtedly present – and important – in the volume. But in the constraints of both time and the span of a single monograph they play a more minor role that I would ideally have wished.

23A further strand in this syndrome of approaches is a view of language as multilayered and dialogic. This again de-emphasises concepts of structure and fixity, and envisages speaking and writing – and communicating more generally – as active process and exchange. Texts are multisided and multivoiced and the use of others’ voices nothing strange. Now undergoing a revival of interest from several directions, Bakhtin’s classic accounts (1973, 1981, 1986) in particular have brought out how in both talk and literary text what we say or write is in one way or another suffused with others’ voices. Sometimes, as he says, these are

openly introduced and clearly demarcated (in quotation marks). Echoes of the change of speech subjects and their dialogical interrelations can be heard clearly here. But any utterance, when it is studied in greater depth… reveals to us many half-concealed or completely concealed words of others with varying degrees of foreignness… furrowed with distant and barely audible echoes
(Bakhtin 1986: 93).

24On similar lines Erving Goffman too has well alerted us to the complex and multisided role of others’ words in the enstaging of everyday life and the diverse forms of speech within it

Words we speak are often not our own, at least not our current ’own’… We can as handily quote another (directly or indirectly) as we can say something in our own name… Deeply incorporated into the nature of talk are the fundamental requirements of theatricality
(Goffman 1981: 3, 4).

25Though I have not adopted their detailed terminology, it will no doubt be obvious that insights from the work of both Bakhtin and Goffman, and their followers, have inspired much of the perspective here.

  • 10 See in particular Buranen and Roy 1999, Woodmansee and Jaszi 1994.

26Within this congeries of approaches to the significance of context, of multiple voices and of language as action, the perspectives going under the label of ’postmodernism’ have played a part, interacting with other on-going studies and debates. Their relevance for this volume includes their encouragement for unpacking often taken-for-granted concepts like authorship or plagiarism, setting them in historical perspective as socially constructed and changeable concepts rather than neutral facts in their own right.10 In this book, as perhaps most often within the broad set of approaches I have sketched here, they tend to surface not in their fully fledged and sometimes obscurantist terms, far less as positing some generalised ’postmodern condition’, but in the more moderate sense – not in fact peculiar to self-styled postmodernists - of questioning ethnocentric, essentialist and elitist assumptions and highlighting multiplicity.

  • 11 See for example Barber 2003, 2007, Bauman and Briggs 1990, Hanks 1989, Silverstein and Urban 1996.

27A further twist in current approaches is that a contextual and action-based perspective on language and culture has not precluded an interest in textuality. The focus in this context has most often been not on text as autonomous entity but on its human handling: how circulated, formulated, continued (or not), collected, evaluated, activated, processed, controlled. This has meant looking beyond the enactments of individuals at a given time or place or the ephemerality of particular speech acts or performances, to take account of how people deal with the enduring qualities of verbal text. Among scholars in the performance studies tradition too there has been a growing interest in the workings of text – entextualisation, textuality, textual boundaries, metatextuality, intertextuality – and on the ’something’ by virtue of which performance itself is more than just the enacted moment.11As Lauri Honko puts it, a performance ’can be understood only against a broader spectrum of performances of the same integer in similar and different contexts’ (Honko 2000: 13). Even in oral settings where multimodal enactment is in one way of the essence

the evanescent, momentary performance can none the less be regarded as something abstracted or detached from the flow of everyday discourse. We have begun to try to see how work goes into constituting oral genres as something capable of repetition, evaluation and exegesis - that is, something that can be treated as the object of commentary – by the communities that produce them, and not just by the collector or ethnographer
(Barber 2003: 325).

28The valuable focus on process and performance is thus now being complemented by a renewed awareness of the ways that textualities do not after all exist solely in the vanishing moment. They can also be treated as in some sense existent in their own right, potentially detachable objects for reference and comment – and quoting. This gives a background to this volume’s interest in textual formations repeated over centuries, in the continuity of quotation collections, and in the lasting potential of written text and the genre conventions that give it form. These are in some sense concretised, not just process but product: a product that may have varied boundaries and contexts and in another sense exist only through successive recontextualisations but nevertheless experienceable as something with a degree of continuity. This is relevant indeed for the study of quoting. To Malinowski’s classic description of language as ’a mode of action and not an instrument of reflection’ (Malinowski 1923: 306, 312) we need to add that quoting in a way stands away from the action – or, rather, that its mode of action can sometimes lie precisely in its distancing from the immediate moment. Almost inescapably, quoting carries a reflective and time-conquering dimension, bringing an element of transcending the here and now through the presencing of others’ words and voices from the past.

  • 12 Well exemplified in papers in the ongoing journal History and Anthropology 1984-.

29A further dimension of this work is the historical. In some ways this is inevitably interwoven into the complex of ideas sketched above. For that already encompasses a sensitivity to historical context and change: to changing concepts of authorship, for example, contrasting approaches to quotation marks and their meanings, or the varied settings in which quotation collections were or were not circulated or read at particular periods. In other respects however looking at changes in quoting and quotation over time represents something of a contrast to the ethnographic mode that even now, and certainly in the past, tends towards the synchronic snapshot. My urge to complement a picture of the here and now by some longer historical background is in keeping with the historically-oriented cultural focus of some recent literary scholarship and with anthropologists’ growing interests in history.12The particular line I have taken however is my own in its selection of specific aspects to both exemplify through limited case studies and follow through (however sketchily) over what sometimes amounts to a lengthy timescale.

  • 13 Notable among them have been Benedict 1996, Carruthers 1990, Conte 1986, Howard 1999, Kewes 2002, (...)

30This strategy naturally has its difficulties. The volume does indeed consider certain historical antecedents both for their general relevance for quoting and quotation and as indicating something of the foundations for the present. But the human experience of quoting through the millennia is of course vast, and unimaginably diverse. This volume does not – cannot – attempt some systematic chronological narrative of quoting through the ages even in the ’west’, far less worldwide. Nor does it follow up some of the possible routes that could be taken to investigating its history (speculations about its evolutionary development for instance), or offer a detailed account of topics that might be accounted relevant such as the history of copyright (though some aspects are touched on in Chapter 8 and its footnotes) or the intriguing history of the footnote (on which see Grafton 1999). Rather this account takes a singular route through certain selected issues (broadly those delineated in the chapter headings). It has fed on the prolific texts now available in print and on the web, and on a series of illuminating studies by others.13With their help it has turned an eye on a selection of cases and examples – small in number and in size, but revealing, I believe, of processes and diversities surrounding quoting and quotation.

31One final point here. While this volume is undoubtedly concerned with changes and diversities and with people’s recontextualisations in the contrasting specificities of time and place let me repeat that it is also concerned with continuities and overlaps. I have generally been unpersuaded by accounts of drastic ruptures or epochal revolutions. Amidst the very real contrasts in cultural contexts or powers, there are also recurrent patterns. The study of quoting, above all, cannot avoid an awareness in the present of the continuing weight of the past.

Academics quoting

32As well as providing a near-obligatory component in a proper academic monograph, the remarks above offer a further example of the use of quoting. The academic genre illustrated in the preceding section – as, up to a point, in the book as a whole – is an example of a widely activated frame for quotation in contemporary writing. It is a genre therefore that deserves some further commentary in a volume devoted to the subject of quotation.

33Here the words and voices of others ostentatiously interpenetrate the text. It is not just quoting in the sense of the overtly signalled repetition of others’ words – though that is common enough – but also extensive calling in of others’ voices through references to their opinions, shorthand citations of titles, and allusions to be picked up by those in the know. Others’ words and voices are deployed through a recognised apparatus which includes the overlapping mechanisms of direct quotation in the text, oblique paraphrase and allusions through citations and references; footnotes too provide a home for much of this (illustrated in the footnotes both here and in the earlier chapters). Found in its most marked form as an opening chapter in academic monographs or a section labelled ’literature review’ in dissertations and reports but also to an extent pervading academic writing in general this may be as much a cluster of genre conventions as a single unitary type; there are certainly discipline and contextual diversities (see for example Bazerman 1988: esp. 18ff, Lea and Stierer 2000, Suomela-Salvi and Dervin 2009). But the general characteristics of this quoting genre have enough in common for some general comment on its most prominent features.

34It is a style of writing – citation-imbued and quoteful – that in broad terms characterises academic monographs, collections, and articles in the ’learned journals’ tradition. Laid down in innumerable research guides and handbooks for students are rules for quoting others’ words and voices, right down to precise punctuation detail, warnings against ’plagiarism’, and requirements for ’literature reviews’ in theses and projects. Overtly at least this ensures accurate documentation for the sources of those others’ words and voices that are repeated or alluded to, and gives due credit to earlier writers for ideas and material to one degree or another imitated, incorporated or paraphrased by the current writer. Ideally it precludes the unacknowledged appropriation of others’ ideas and avoids the danger of copyright infringement or unsignalled copying from words owned by others. It relates the writer’s own words to those of earlier scholars by marshalling description, direct quotation, paraphrase, citation and allusion.

35In such citations the author to an extent declares a position, overt or implicit, in relation to those earlier writers, whether of alignment, criticism, judicious evaluation, rejection, worship, memorialising or perhaps mere careless tokenism, and in doing so configures his or her own voice. The choice of authors for citation signals not just a general adherence to the world of scholarship or to a particular discipline, but which tradition and approach within this is being espoused. In doing so it sounds and defines the writer’s own voice. As Ron Scollon put it (another apt quotation)

The way we reference the writings of others is only partly a question of establishing the ownership of wordings (that is, a question of correct attribution): it is also a significant aspect of establishing the authorial self of the quoting writer
(Scollon 1994: 35).

36The double or multivoiced text that results represents a familiar enough dimension of quoting. A quoter speaks both in others’ voices and in the quoter’s own. This polyphony has a peculiar significance in the academic quoting genre for here the quoter’s own voice must among other things be that of ’the scholarly ”I”’ (Baynham 1999). The writer is set into the historical sweep of knowledge in multivoiced dialogue with earlier scholars, expected not only to bring those earlier voices on stage but at the same time to speak in revelation of his or her own relationship to them. This can be to challenge and distance them. Or it can be – and often is – to identify with them in whole or in part. It can be to dissociate the quoter directly or indirectly from certain others and their opinions and thus be absolved from being classed with them, or alternatively, perhaps at the same time, to claim alliance with them and to be going forward with their blessing.

37This mode of quoting thus provides the opportunity to acknowledge previous writers, give a background to what is already known or debated about the subject under discussion (its ’literature’), and locate the author in relation to that literature. Despite diversities across disciplines and a degree of confusion about which purposes are primary, there is indeed a widely accepted rationale framing the continuance of this quoting genre in the academic context, learned and emulated by student apprentices and confidently deployed by their experienced seniors. In words which apply to more than just the scientists he primarily refers to, Norman Kaplan rightly elucidates how ’citation practices reflect significant elements of the normative and value systems of scientists’ (Kaplan 1965: 182). Or, to quote Howard Becker’s judicious enunciation:

Science and humanistic scholarship are, in fact as well as in theory, cumulative enterprises. None of us invent it all from scratch when we sit down to write. We depend on our predecessors. We couldn’t do our work if we didn’t use their methods, results, and ideas. Few people would be interested in our results if we didn’t indicate some relationship between them and what others have said and done
before us (Becker 1986: 140).

38As with other forms of quoting this particular genre can be turned to manifold purposes not overtly acknowledged in the explicit rationale. It is partly a matter of taken-for-granted presentation – the expected artistry. Quotations can be a neat way of breaking up dense print: for some readers more likely to leap off the page than the main text, for others something to be skipped, but at any rate looking good on the page. Quotations can highlight the writer’s position in succinct or memorable words – easier than composing one’s own or arguably more attractively expressed in another’s words. They can appear near the title page of books or, less common than in the past but still practised, stand elegantly at the head of chapter or paper. Citations are encapsulated within a publisher’s house style, whether in florid-looking footnotes, decently concealed endnotes, or stylishly economical brackets: part of the design features of their publications.

39The academic quoting rhetoric fits other purposes too. As Nigel Gilbert well put it (1977), referencing is a tool of persuasion. It is there to convince colleagues of the writer’s worth through ’respected papers which can be cited to bolster confidence in their own arguments… [and] shine in their reflected glory’ (Gilbert 1977: 116). Equally apt is the British observer’s quotation from Philip Hamerton: ’Have you ever observed that we pay much more attention to a wise passage when it is quoted than when we read it in the original author?’ (quoted MO/ C3603). Others’ words and voices are brought in as independent guarantors, as it were, to support the author’s findings and opinions. An author’s claim to a mastery of some established field is implicitly conveyed through the citation of the names and opinions of those who went before, dragged into the writer’s own domain in a form of appropriation, even conquest. Quotation of previous writings is to stake out a place in the forward sweep of knowledge, and draw to oneself something of the kudos of earlier great names.

40This academic practice of quoting is a conspicuous example of the rituals of initiation and identity creation. Anthony Grafton convincingly compares learning the correct forms of referencing to the process of apprenticeship into a profession. Focusing on historians’ use of footnotes but in words that apply to academic writing more widely he notes how

The footnote is bound up, in modern life, with the ideology and technical practices of a profession. … One becomes a historian, as one becomes a dentist, by undergoing specialized training: one remains a historian, as one remains a dentist, if one’s work receives the approval of one’s teachers, one’s peers, and, above all, one’s readers (or one’s patients). Learning to make footnotes is part of this modern version of apprenticeship
(Grafton 1999: 5).

41Being taught how to wield ’the sacred footnote’ can be seen as part of the ’ancestor worship’ of modern life: ’its secrets… – the details of form, style, etiquette and sensitivity to proper occasion – are transmitted within the course of higher education’ (Lincoln 1977: 155). By such mechanisms identity in academic contexts is ’constructed in part through the socially situated practice of writing’ (Casanave 2002: 14). Using the appropriate quoting conventions is now a recognised route and a condition for accessing and retaining membership of the scholarly community.

42Utilising these quoteful textual practices is not only to play the contemporary academic game but to claim membership of a profession assessed among its adherents as of high and valued standing: rather like a secret society dedicated among other things to the preservation and use of the ’proper ritual formulae’ (Lincoln 1977: 155). It deploys a shared language that brings insiders together and, whether or not deliberately, keeps out others. The polyphonic construction of academic prose carries a message not only about the author’s position but that ’they are or want to be part of a community’ (Fløttum 2009: 120). Shirley Rose puts it more strongly:

Credible citation practice is more than a matter of selective quotation, fluent paraphrase, accurate summary, avoidance of plagiarism and precise punctuation. It is an act of building community, collaboratively constructing shared knowledge… [through] rituals of love and courtship that work to create group cohesion in academic disciplines
(Rose 1996: 45).

43And to those who would query the terms ’love and courtship’ in this context, she would reply that they would surely ring true for those students and other outsiders ’longing for the embrace of the disciplinary community’ as well as to the teachers whose role positions them at the gate, ’empowered to grant or withhold access to that embrace’ (Rose 1996: 45).

44The specific words and voices chosen for quotation also lead to identification within the academic world. For, whether the choice is from famed Latin authors, notable sociological theorists or today’s mass observers, they pinpoint the particular scholarly tradition with which the writer is proclaiming identity. Declaring membership of these ’sociorhetorical discourse communities’, as they have been termed (Duszak 1997, Swales 1990), is to side with some voices by repeating or positively invoking them, while signalling division from others by direct critique or silent exclusion. As Berkenkotter and Huckin have it (1993), ’You are what you cite’. This provides a route for the writer to build on foundations laid by earlier members of a specific academic section, bring their words and voices into his or her own, and both activate and enter into conversation with them. It is an indication too of whose vocabulary is being used and where any paraphrasing (or, perhaps, plagiarising?) is likely to be drawn from: the sources for the writer’s own, and imitated, words. A common purpose is to declare allegiance to the individuals or groups being quoted, and in doing so to claim in turn a presence within their circle. Quotation enables a writer to stand in alliance with revered words and voices from the past and, as quoting does, endow oneself with something of their authority. Here is a recognised site for writers to don their distinguishing ’intellectual badges’ (Stinchombe 1982: 2) and flag up whose words and voices count.

45As with other forms of quoting, the academic genre, admired in some contexts, is also subject to criticism and resentment. It has been seen as pretentious, exaggerated, self-serving, showing off, scholarly window dressing, a cynical hitching of your wagon to a well-known star, alienating, a bulwark against outsiders. It can be deplored as a sign of the archaism of the scholarly world, backward-looking ancestor worship pervaded by ritualised but irrelevant references to the ’classics’, a pretext for the dead hand of the past to stifle the distinctiveness of newly motivated writers or the innovation of the present. Or again, it can be derided as just part of the academic game of making one’s way and courting those higher in the ranking. As Willis Goth Regier (2007) rightly reminds us, flattery brings rewards, and Benjamin Franklin was no doubt accurate that ’Nothing gives an Author so great Pleasure, as to find his Works respectfully quoted by other learned Authors’ (Franklin 1757, in Labaree 1963 Vol. 7: 340). Equally to the point, ’Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery’, and the calling in of certain valued voices can indeed, in Shirley Rose’s terminology (1996), act as courtship ritual and love-bond among those in the charmed circle – but an unsurmountable bar to others.

46It is not hard to understand such reactions. The ideal rationale, no doubt, is that these direct and indirect repetitions of others’ words and voices have been assimilated into the writer’s own mind, becoming – Erasmus is always worth quoting – ’part of your own system… something that springs from your own mental processes’ (Erasmus Ciceronian, CWE Vol. 28: 441). But in practice this may be far from the whole truth. Academic paper after paper repeats and replicates the same ’big names’ with continually recycled products. Nor is there even a guarantee that the writer has much close acquaintance with the words and voices invoked, let alone thoroughly transformed them into something new. Dropping in an unthinking superfluity of quotations and allusive references is after all a common response to the demands of this genre of writing. The British commentator’s reply to the question of whether she possessed any quotation collections has many parallels: ’I do, and I stuff them into my academic writing to make it look good’ (MO/G3042).

47Looking back at my own version I have to say that it does indeed fall in with many of the recurrent features of the genre, the negative as well (hopefully) as a modicum of the positive. The style alone is a signal that here is someone writing as a member of the scholarly club, interpenetrated as it is by direct and allusive quotation from the words and voices of others, predominantly those of other accredited scholars. The first section of this appendix is marked by direct quotation from selected authorities: introduced in each case for a reason, admittedly, but nevertheless in a way there to impress, as well as making the text look less turgidly dense and expressing things better than I could myself (or at any rate saving me the trouble of trying to say it equally well). It is also stuffed with references, that allusive variant of quoting, not all fully digested or mastered, no doubt, but seemingly a necessary bit of showmanship in this kind of writing. The same could be said of the prolific use of footnotes jammed in below my main text: heavy-laden with citation and implied quotation they provide a neat way of flaunting a multiplicity of others’ words and voices in support of my own. The perceptive reader will hopefully have been impressed by these many citations and direct quotations, craftily indicating my knowledge of the fields being entered and boosting my own authority by the subtle take-over of their voices into my own while at the same time claiming my own path as singular. The authorities I choose to quote and cite, above all in the self-justificatory (self-promoting?) rationale in the first part of this appendix, also declare my identification with particular wings of the scholarly endeavour. Thus the emphasis I lay on the voices of the mass observers aligns me with certain schools of research and theory, bolstered by citations that define and authorise my stance and erect a defensive shield of scholarly words and voices to cover me against attack. Self-defining and supporting too are the quotations from pragmatist scholars and those within the influential tradition of linguistic anthropology.

48The ’scholarly I’ of this work thus cites, repeats, signals, weaves in, acknowledges and in some sense tacitly takes to itself the words and voices of those many others brought into play here. So I suppose that an unexpressed hope here and elsewhere may be that in the process I can borrow a little of the lustre of some of the shining writers that I quote, like Mikhail Bakhtin, Erving Goffman, Howard Becker, Richard Bauman, or even (were that possible) Erasmus, and might be recognised as somehow ranged alongside them, carrying on their heritage in the unfolding world of scholarship.

49This quote-imbued style of academic rhetoric is only too easy to criticise and, especially in its extremer expressions, to ridicule for its excluding and over-the-top pretentiousness. But for all that it is a point of some note in our contemporary culture that a genre in such high standing should turn on a shared value for the words and voices of others. This quoting style is intimately bound into our arrangements for scholarly publication, distribution, approval, editorial judgements, examining, career development, and researching. How and whom writers quote either directly or by implication is among the significant criteria by which academics judge each others’ worth and relevance, and the process through which they communicate not just in their own tones but through the words and voices of a host of others.

50Quoting and its evaluation, in fine, lie at the core of contemporary practices in the scholarly world. Bruce Lincoln’s high wording is perhaps not too overblown when he sees citation as a ritual where we ’place ourself in a lineage of past scholars, and we make public statement that our ancestors are not forgotten… [building] a chain… that links the living and the dead’ (Lincoln 1977: 155). We forge that link both in our direct quoting of others’ words and in the more allusive processes of identifying, re-producing and weighing the voices of those others who are in one way or another called onto the stage or lurking in the wings. In Anthony Grafton’s equally pertinent comment on the footnote and its citational practices, historians – and other writers too – ’make their texts not monologues but conversations in which modern scholars, their predecessors, and their subjects all take part’ (Grafton 1999: 234).


1 On this see for example Atkinson et al. 2003, Coffey 1999, Collins and Gallinat 2010, Hertz 1997.

2 For example – to mention just a few at random – Brown 2006, Duranti 2001, Lentricchia and McLaughlin 1995, Preminger and Brogan 1993, Robinson 2006, Verschueren and Östman 2009, Wagner et al. 1999; indexes in the massive Cambridge History of Literary Criticism (1989-) seem to mention it in just one volume and then only via a cross-reference to ’citation’.

3 See for example Barber 2006, Barton and Hamilton 1998, Basso 1989, Bauman and Sherzer 1989, Boyarin 1993, Heath 1983, Hymes 1964, 1977, Jones and Schieffelin 2009, Sherzer 1983, Shuman 1999, Street 1993.

4 Amidst the large literature on this see for example Atkinson et al. 2003, Bryman 2008: 400ff, Davies 2008, Denzin and Lincoln 2005: Preface, Hammersley and Atkinson 2007, Madden 2010, and, on case studies, Ragin and Becker 1992, Stake 2005.

5 For examples and discussion of the uses of Mass Observation see Adams and Raisborough 2010, Bytheway 2009, Hubble 2006, Savage 2010, Sheridan 1996, 2007, Sheridan et al. 2000, Summerfield 2010, Thomas 2002, and for the history and current work of Mass Observation

6 See among others Bornat 1992, Chamberlayne et al. 2000, Perks and Thomson 2006, Sheridan 1996.

7 For recent overviews see Cummings 2010, Robinson 2006, Verschueren and Östman 2009, also background in Clark 1996, Harris 1998.

8 Notably in Bauman 1977, Bauman and Sherzer 1989, Ben-Amos and Goldstein 1975, Hymes 1975, 1977.

9 9 For example Bauman 2004, Bauman and Briggs 1990, Duranti 2001, Duranti and Goodwin 1992, Hanks 1996, Hill and Irvine 1993, Hymes 1996, Lucy 1993, Mannheim and Tedlock 1995, Schieffelin 2007, Silverstein and Urban 1996, Urban 1991.

10 See in particular Buranen and Roy 1999, Woodmansee and Jaszi 1994.

11 See for example Barber 2003, 2007, Bauman and Briggs 1990, Hanks 1989, Silverstein and Urban 1996.

12 Well exemplified in papers in the ongoing journal History and Anthropology 1984-.

13 Notable among them have been Benedict 1996, Carruthers 1990, Conte 1986, Howard 1999, Kewes 2002, Lennard 1991, Merton 1965, Minnis 1988, Moss 1996, Parkes 1992, Putnam 1894, Randall 2001, Rouse and Rouse 1979, Sherzer 1990, White 1935, Woodmansee and Jaszi 1994, Yankah 1995 – but I also owe much to the many others listed in the footnotes and References.


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