Archive | May, 2010

Kagan’s Senior Thesis

14 May

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I don’t normally post about political topics, but given the fact that I’m in DC and inspired by all things historical, topical and political, I had to comment about an article on that linked to Red State, which published a copy of Supreme Court Justice nominee Elena Kagan’s Princeton senior thesis online. A letter from Princeton’s Mudd Manuscript Library requested that Red State take down the thesis since the online publication violated copyright law:


From: Daniel J. Linke
Subject: Kagan senior thesis copyright violation
Date: May 14, 2010 3:04:42 PM EDT

Dear Sir or Madam:

It has been brought to my attention that you have posted Elena Kagan’s senior thesis online. (See: Copies provided by the Princeton University Archives are governed by U.S. Copyright Law and are for private individual use only. Any electronic distribution is prohibited, as noted on the first page of the copy that is on your website. Therefore I request that you remove it immediately before further action is taken.

Please notify me as soon as possible that you have removed it from your web site.

Sincerely yours,
Daniel J. Linke

University Archivist and Curator of Public Policy Papers
Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library
Princeton University


Commenters at Red State are up in arms, claiming that it’s their right to view Kagan’s thesis. Her thesis title is: “To the Final Conflict: Socialism in New York City, 1900-1933” (1981). So of course, people on Red State believe that this paper defines Kagan as a socialist.

As a Princeton alum, I understand Princeton’s policy towards fair use and copyright law in regards to senior theses. I wrote a senior thesis and it is protected under the same rules and regulations as Kagan’s, as is any other thesis written by Princeton students. This isn’t some mass conspiracy to hide her thesis or views; it is simply protecting her work as a student. All theses are available to view at Princeton’s Mudd Library. This was a student paper. Do people demand that all student papers ever written by Supreme Court nominees be available to view? How does fair use translate to online publications? (I’m looking forward to our class about Internet Law to learn more about this topic). It’s fascinating to watch political debates unfold over social media. Just because it can’t be published online does not define Princeton’s – or Kagan’s – political views. If conservatives feel that her senior thesis is a definitive reflection of her views as a potential Supreme Court judge, take a trip to Princeton and read the thesis to judge for yourself. You can read mine too. It’s about censorship.

Here is the link to Princeton’s senior theses database.

Some other interesting titles to view from prominent Princeton alums:

Shields, Brooke (1987), actor: The Initiation: From Innocence to Experience: The Pre-Adolescent/Adolescent Journey in the Films of Louis Malle, “Pretty Baby” and “Lacombe Lucien”

Duchovny, David (1982), actor: The Schizophrenic Critique of Pure Reason in Beckett’s Early Novels

Cain, Dean (1988), actor: The History and Development of the Functions of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

Kelley, David (1979), writer/producer: Making Amends

Halaby, Lisa (Queen Noor of Jordan, 1974): 96th Street and Second Avenue

Bradley, Bill (NBA player & US Senator, 1965): “On That Record I Stand” – Harry S. Truman’s Fight for the Senatorship in 1940.

Spitzer, Eliot (1981), NY governor: Revolutions in Post-Stalin Eastern Europe: A Study of Soviet Reactions

Alito, Samuel (1972), Supreme Court Justice: An Introduction to the Italian Constitutional Court

Baker, James (1952), Secretary of State: Two Sides of the Conflict: Bevin vs. Beva

Whitman, Meg (1977), CEO of eBay and California gubernatorial candidate: The Marketing of American Consumer Products in Western Europe.

Remnick, David (1981), editor-in-chief of The New Yorker and Pulitzer Prize winner: The Sympathetic Thread: ‘Leaves of Grass’ 1855-1865

Coen, Ethan (1979), director and Academy Award winner, No Country for Old Men: Two Views of Wittgenstein’s Later Philosophy

Kemper, Ellie (2002), actor, The Office: Isn’t It Ironic?

Epstein, Julie (2002): The Presence and Principles of the Motion Picture Production Code

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Procrastination…what I’m doing now that I shouldn’t be doing now

3 May

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A stream of consciousness image blog post by Julie. I save the best for last, I think. I’m not really focusing.

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