Friday, November 5, 2010

An Unravelling

One of the problems of publishing in general - and publishing online in particular - arises when no one reads what one has written. A website can keep track of how many "hits" has occurred there, but it cannot give one any idea of what happened when the "hit" occurred, if it happened in error, if anyone actually reads what is posted there, etc.

When I reported in Senses of Cinema three years ago that a two essays in a book published in 2004 had been copied, almost word for word, from an essay published more than twenty years before by another writer, nothing happened. Or so I thought.

It seems that others have noticed such resemblances involving writings published by the same author. A comment posted by William MacAdams on Richard Brody's blog at The New Yorker, "About 'Truffaut's Last Interview," reads as follows:

"Dear Richard Brody: A few years ago I was curious to see if there were any books in English on the greatly neglected Vittorio De Sica. The only study of him I knew of was Stephen Harvey's monograph (in English) published by Cin├ęcitta in 1991. I discovered there was a new book by Bert Cardullo. When I began reading Cardullo's "Vittorio De Sica: Director, Actor, Screenwriter," it seemed very familiar. I compared Stephen Harvey's and Cardullo's texts to find that they were virtually identical. Cardullo had added the occasional snippet of information, which required alterations in Harvey's text, but otherwise the two books were the same. Cardullo included Harvey's monograph in his bibliography but called it a "brochure." Stephen Harvey was dead when Cardullo published his plagiarism in 2002. I had never heard of Cardullo at that time and only knew Harvey slightly from MoMA, where he was a curator in the film department. I contacted the University of Michigan, where Cardullo was then employed, and referred them to Harvey's monograph (which hardly any libraries in the U.S. had copies of, and at that time there were none to be had from Shortly thereafter, I received several threatening e-mails from Cardullo, advising me that his lawyer had been informed and that if I continued to repeat the allegation of plagiarism he was intending to sue. He also demanded to know my home address. I didn't reply to his e-mails and never heard from him again. Months later, I was contacted by the University of Michigan to inform me Cardullo had been dismissed. For some time after that, Cardullo's publisher, McFarland, kept the book in print. A while later, a friend who was teaching at N.Y.U. told me that Cardullo had been hired to teach there! Yours, William MacAdams ps I am an admirer of your superb book on Godard."


This is an ongoing nightmare for some, including myself. Singling out a writer for, albeit qualified, praise has made me somewhat proprietary of his work. This is what happens with all great critics - they are so hard to find that following them is a kind of ritual, an act of faith in criticism and in literature (since even movie critics are writers). Such critics are what is now known as "niche domains."

So it is all the more upsetting to see the work of one such critic unravel before my eyes. I suspected that there are probably more suspect texts by Cardullo around. This is the latest.


Anonymous said...

This is indeed not the only plagiarism that Cardullo has undertaken. The introduction (which he "wrote") to Theater of the Avant Garde, a book he coedited with Robert Knopf, has whole passages in it directly out of Christopher Innes's Avant Garde Theatre. It's so disappointing to look at a career that prolific and realize it is built on theft.

Jerry White said...

I read what you wrote in Senses of Cinema, largely because I had read and enjoyed Cardullo's writing. I found what you wrote there sad; I suppose a more intense emotion was probably called for. Anyway, I wonder if you have seen this, specifically the first blurb there:

Dan Harper said...

I couldn't access the link you left. I suppose the less intense emotion you felt when you read my article is a general one, but I suspect that the cat may finally be out of the bag for Cardullo.

Jerry White said...

Well, I think you oughta see this. These are the blurbs on the publisher website for his new book, Screen Writings, published in March 2010:

'Among my contemporaries, the best film critic writing in English in America is Bert Cardullo, and 'Screen Writings' proves why.' Dan Harper, American film scholar

'A lot of what Bert Cardullo has to say about contemporary world cinema would be interesting to a very wide audience. He is someone with an impressive and stimulating command of the difficult dance of the film review.' Jerry White, University of Alberta

'Bert Cardullo's articles and reviews are invariably intelligent, original, and highly informed. I have been a sturdy admirer of his work for years; he's a solid writer and an equally solid judge.' Frederick Morgan, American poet

The full link is at

Dan Harper said...

That blurb is also on the Amazon page. Just shows you how a favorable blurb can be extracted from even a negative review (mine was as favorable as I could make it, under the circumstances).

The late Fred Morgan gave Cardullo a job at The Hudson Review in the '80s. It's a mercy that he isn't around any more to see what a mess Cardullo has made of his trust.

But I'm beginning to believe that Cardullo would have to commit murder before anyone else would notice how much "borrowing" (I'm in a generous mood) he's been doing over the years.

Thanks for the link.

Anonymous said...

Pages 70-72 and pages 85-86 of Cardullo's "Vittorio De Sica" are plagiarized from Stanley Kauffmann's reviews of "Two Women" and "A Brief Vacation" in "The New Republic" (May 22, 1961 and March 8, 1975 issues). Several sentences are lifted verbatim; Kauffmann's reviews are not quoted, cited, or acknowledged as sources.

Pages 56-58 and page 195 of Cardullo's book "Waves from the East" are lifted directly from Kauffmann's "New Republic" reviews of "Turtles Can Fly" and "What Time is it There?" (March 7, 2005 and February 4, 2002 issues).

Cardullo's two-volume "Screen Writings" is replete with plagiarisms from Kauffmann's old reviews. In Volume 1: pages 94-98 are stolen from the reviews of Olmi's films "The Sound of Trumpets" and "The Fiances" in the August 17, 1963 and February 15, 1964 issues of "The New Republic"; and pages 198-199 are taken almost vebatim from Kauffmann's review of "The Last Picture Show" in the October 16, 1971 issue of "The New Republic". In Volume 2: large portions of pages 16-21 are stolen from Kauffmann's reviews of "The Goodbye Girl" and "Manhattan" in the December 17, 1977 and May 19, 1979 issues of "The New Republic"; and pages 36-46 include several paragraphs Cardullo lifted from Kauffmann's reviews of "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" and "Me You and Everyone We Know" (April 5, 2005 and July 11/18, 2005 issues of "The New Republic").

Cardullo's "The Films of Robert Bresson" includes an essay ("Dostoyevskian Surge, Bressonian Spirit") in which he plagiarizes virtually all of Kauffmann's review of "L'Argent" (April 16, 1984 issue of "The New Republic").

Cardullo's "Screening the Stage" is filled with plagiarisms: pages 47-49 are taken from Kauffmann's review of "Betrayal" (February 28, 1983 issue of "The New Republic"); and a large portion of the essay "The Sounds (and Sights) of Silence: 'Way Down East' as Play and Film" (pages 91-99) have been stolen from Kauffmann's essay "D.W. Griffith's 'Way Down East'" in the journal "Horizon" (Spring, 1972).

In the January, 2011 issue of "Notes on Contemporay Literature" the following notice was published:

"This is to inform the readership of 'Notes' that 'Marguerite Ida-Helena Annabel in Gertrude Stein's Doctor Faustus Lights the Lights,' Vol. 40.4:4-6, by Bert Cardullo, is largely plagiarized from pages 82 through 85 of Professor Sarah Bey-Cheng's book 'Mama Dada: Gertrude Stein's Avant-Garde Theater' (Routledge, 2004; reprinted in paper 2005). We condemn Bert Cardullo's dishonesty and apologize to Professor Bey-Cheng and our readers that it escaped our editorial scrutiny."

Cardullo is not a scholar, but, rather, a charlatan and thief who has ransacked the work of critics he professes to respect and admire.

Dan Harper said...

Your pains-taking (!) is appreciated. There is an interview of Mr. Kauffmann conducted by Cardullo online. I wonder if Kauffmann was even there? My chief reaction is surprise that all this has gone unnoticed for so long.

Anonymous said...

Do you know what's disturbing? As a professor, Cardullo had a history of being extremely strict about plagiarism, warning of expulsion and other consequences for those who plagiarized.

Also disturbing? Sarah Bay-Cheng, from whom he stole material as listed above in the comments, was once his student.

Gary Morris said...

We recently deleted all Bert Cardullo material from our website, Bright Lights - a fair number of translations and interviews. His continued theft of other people's work - and refusal to own up to it - is really dispiriting; obviously he lacks any ethical grounding and cannot be trusted. I notice other journals have been scrubbing his work, including the prestigious Oxford Journals website. There's more to come on this story from other quarters, I suspect.

Anonymous said...

It doesn't speak well of the Turkish university where Cardullo now teaches that they hired him even after evidence of his serial academic fraud has become impossible to ignore. (For instance, if you Google "Bert Cardullo," the first page to show up is an article about one of his instances of plagiarism.)

I wonder what would turn up if we looked at Cardullo's Yale dissertation. Anyone who steals with such abandon is likely to have started early.