Privacy, Technology and the Law - Fall 2018
Essay on 1984
Paper due: Wednesday, October 17 at 5pm
Read 1984 by George Orwell.
Suggested: Watch one or both of the films The Lives of Others written
and directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck and The Conversation written
and directed by Francis Ford Coppola. You are then welcome to
draw on one or the films in your essay for comparison or
Write an essay
that relates the novel (and possibly one of the films) to some of
what we have been studying in class this semester.
Choose one of the following topics:
Technology and the surveillance state.
How important is technology, particularly cutting-edge
technology, to the establishment and maintenance of a
surveillance state? Is combating the repression of such
a state better done through the use of technology
(including cryptology), by political protest, or other
Surveillance v. voyeurism. What is the difference between
surveillance and voyeurism? How does this distinction
manifest itself in the novel (and the film, if you are
- Perceptions of privacy and anonymity. In what ways do
characters in the novel (and film, if you are considering one)
try to act anonymously? Do they succeed? How does the
presumption of privacy put characters at risk?
Something different. Choose your
own topic. If you want to take this path, you need to
propose the topic with me by no later than
October 5; the sooner the better.
You need to inform me (via email) on which topic you plan on
writing by no later than October 10.
- Submit your essay by replying to the email formally announcing the assignment and attaching the
document as a .docx file (i.e., as a Word or Google document). If
you need to use a different format, clear it with me first. (If
using Google Docs, download your document to your own computer
as in the .docx format and then email it to me; do not submit via sharing.)
- Your essay should be between 1500 and 2000
words. Remember: quality, not quantity.
- Make specific references, citing page numbers (or scenes)
where necessary. Choose appropriate quotes to support your arguments
(but keep them brief). If you use sources aside from the novel (or
the two suggested films), you should a) clear them with me first; b)
make appropriate citations to them in your paper; and c) include
their full reference in a bibliography at the back of the
paper. (A bibliography does not apply toward a word count.)
- As indicated previously, a short paper does not mean
that it should take you a short time to write; it means that it
should take me a short time to read! You may well want to write more
first, then trim your essay down. Please do not forget to both
proofread (which means more than using spell-checking and
grammar-checking software) and to edit - meaning rewrite portions of
your essay that are unclear or can be expressed more succinctly. The
edit-rewrite process is an effective way to take a longer essay and
make it a better, shorter essay.
- If you are having trouble choosing a topic, getting started on
your paper, or formulating your thoughts into coherent arguments, do
not hesitate to discuss with me (and sooner rather than later).