Princeton Theses

The awesome thing about Princeton requiring a senior thesis of all its students is not just that I’m really, really excited about the opportunity to write one. What’s even cooler, in a way, is that there’s a database hosted by the Mudd Manuscript Library (the library that houses Princeton’s archives) where you can look up the thesis of any Princeton alum. My colleague and I wasted some time today looking up some of the interesting ones, and here are some theses we discovered, many of which are quite entertaining:

Samuel Alito ’72: “An Introduction to the Italian Constitutional Court”
Hilary Bok ’81: “Action and Moral Courage”
Joshua Bolten ’76: “Judicial Selection in Virginia”
Ethan Coen ’79: “Two Views of Wittgenstein’s Later Philosophy”
Jonathan Safran Foer ’99: “Before Reading The Book of Anticedents: Intention, Literary Interpretation, and the Hypothesized Author”
Sally Frank ’80: “Strategies and Tactics Used by the Women’s Movement to Create Radical and Reformist Change”
Peter Hessler ’92: “Dead Man’s Shoes and Other Stories”
Katrina vanden Heuvel ’81: “American Victims: A Study of the Anti-Communist Crusade”
Elena Kagan ’81: “To the Final Conflict: Socialism in New York City, 1900-1933”
Josh Marshall ’91: “Virginia during the Nullification Crisis”
John McPhee ’53: “Skimmer Burns”
Ralph Nader ’55: “Lebanese Agriculture”
Jared Polis ’96: “Paradigm Shift: Politics in the Information Age”
David Remnick ’81: “The Sympathetic Thread: ‘Leaves of Grass’ 1855-1865”
Anthony Romero ’87: “Colombian Migration and Political Participation in the United States”
Donald Rumsfled ’54: “The Steel Seizure Case of 1952 and Its Effects on Presidential Powers”
Eric Schlosser ’81: “Academic Freedom during the McCarthy Era: Anti-Communism, Conformity and Princeton”
Brooke Shields ’87: “The Initiation: From Innocence to Experience: The Pre-Adolescent/Adolescent Journey in the Films of Louis Malle, ‘Pretty Baby’ and ‘Lacombe Lucien'”
Eliot Spitzer ’81: “Revolutions in Post-Stalin Eastern Europe: A Study of Soviet Reactions”
Paul Volcker ’49: “The Problems of Federal Reserve Policy since World War II”
Meg Whitman ’77: “The Marketing of American Consumer Products in Western Europe”

My personal favorite? Nader. What on earth inspired him to write on Lebanese agriculture?

I do think it’s interesting, though, that many of these people stuck with their thesis topic for their entire careers. I wonder whether the same will happen to me—though that certainly makes picking a topic all that much more stressful.

(UPDATE: Now that my parents, my high school teachers, and a world-famous blogger have all reminded me of Nader’s Lebanese heritage, I feel obliged to concede that his interest in Lebanese agriculture was entirely rational and justified.)

5 thoughts on “Princeton Theses

  1. Ralph Nader is Lebanese-American. Maybe he was interested in learning more about Lebanon?

  2. Is there any way to download a soft copy of one of these?

    I wanted to read Ethan Coen ’79: “Two Views of Wittgenstein’s Later Philosophy”

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