Due October 18, 2004
Vaidhyanathan, who we are now reading, picks a fight with
Goldstein, who we read previously. He does so on pages 156.2-158.2.
Since this is only two pages of text, you need not wait for us
to reach that point in the syllabus to get started on this essay
assignment. You can just go ahead and read those two pages early.
Vaidhyanathan based his criticism on the first edition of
Goldstein's book, whereas we have read the revised edition.
Therefore, if you think Vaidhyanathan misrepresents Goldstein's
position, there are two possibilities. One is that he genuinely
disagrees with you on how to interpret Goldstein's work, and the other
is that Goldstein has modified his position in the meantime, perhaps
even in response to Vaidhyanathan's criticism. Without comparing the
two editions, you can't know. For the purpose of this essay, you
don't need to know, either.
Write an essay in which you defend either one of two positions:
- Vaidhyanathan's criticism is valid when applied to Goldstein's
revised edition. (Presumably it was valid in the first place, and
Goldstein's position didn't change enough to matter.)
- Vaidhyanathan's criticism is not valid when applied to Goldstein's
revised edition. (Presumably either it wasn't valid in the first place, or
Goldstein responded effectively to it.)
Aim your essay at an audience that understands the basics of
copyright law (as you and your classmates do), but that is not
familiar with the books by Goldstein and Vaidhyanathan.
Please rewrite your essay until you are convinced that the answer to
each of the following questions is "yes." I urge you to ask a
peer to give you feedback as well on whether he or she agrees that all
the answers are "yes." When I grade your
essay, I will again use these questions, both to give you feedback
and to come up with your letter grade. Specifically, I will start
with an A and take off one grade "notch" (e.g., from A to A-, or from
A- to B+) for each question where the answer is "no". Be warned that
some of the questions are so critical that if the answer is "no," then
one or more additional answers are necessarily also "no." For
example, if the answer to question 1a is "no," you are doomed for 1b
through 1e as well.
Does the essay has some specific point it tries to make, discernible
to the reader after reading the full essay?
Is that point within the parameters specified by the assignment?
Does the essay stick to that single point?
Is it immediately clear to the reader what point the essay is going to
make, without needing to read beyond the first few sentences?
Is the language used to state the thesis clear, straightforward, even
Is the essay consistent in the assumptions it makes about the
audience's background knowledge and vocabulary?
Are those assumptions within the parameters specified by the
Is the general style, tone, or voice of the essay appropriate to a
general academic audience, or if a different audience is explicitly
stated in the assignment, to that audience?
Does the essay have an introduction that lets the reader know what to
expect from the essay?
Does the essay have a conclusion that leaves the reader with a
satisfied feeling that the matter has been neatly wrapped up?
Does the body of the essay (between the introduction and conclusion)
have a discernible organizing principle?
Does each paragraph and each larger organizational unit start with a
clear statement of topic, except where there is a good reason to do
Are there smooth, sensible transitions from each topic to the next?
- Supporting evidence
Is each claim you make backed up by specific supporting evidence?
Have you properly documented the sources of all your evidence, even
when that evidence is not directly quoted?
Do you comment upon each quotation or other piece of evidence and work
it into the flow of your essay?
Do you provide evidence that could on its face be taken as counter to
your thesis, and explain how it fits into your understanding of the
- Is the grammar, spelling, diction (word choice), and typography all
good enough to not distract the reader?
- Is the writing clear, crisp and direct?