In the Seminar on Ancient Forgery at Rice University a few days ago, I made a presentation in which I urged (all of us) scholars to decide on which terms we use to describe different kinds of literary phenomena associated in one way or another with literary deceit.

My view is that since there are different phenomena (even if these can overlap), we ought to have distinct terms to refer to them – otherwise it just gets confusing.  It can be confusing to have so many different terms as well, but if we don’t differentiate the phenomena from one another, it makes matters only worse.  And so if we have not only distinct phenomena but also distinct terms for referring to each of them, that should provide clarity to what it is we’re doing (at least in theory).  It certainly does not help to call an act of plagiarism also a falsification, if by falsification we mean something other than plagiarism.

The following are the terms that I have proposed we use for the various forms of literary deceit, with a brief explanation of what each term stands for:



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