Q&A with Senior Thesis Writer: Quincy Cason

March 20, 2017
quincy cason

What is the subject of your thesis?

My thesis is about plagiarism, ownership, and copyrights in music. It overlaps between epistemology and ethics.

How did you decide on this topic?

I'm a joint concentrator with music as my primary field, and I struggled for a while with finding a topic that really interested me. Then one morning last summer I woke up with the idea to do something involving copyright law in music. The process of narrowing down my topic involved me going through various high-profile cases and figuring out which ones I disagreed with, most notably the one involving "Blurred Lines"; ultimately, I decided to write about what justifies ownership in music to begin with, what artists can legitimately claim rights to, and why some common conceptions of musical plagiarism don't always amount to infringements of rights.

Who on the faculty are you working with and what has it been like?

I have been working with John Bengson, which has been a ton of fun. Sometimes I think myself into a rut when getting into some of the details of my argument; he often encourages me to take a step back and think about how principles that apply to other non-musical situations can clarify some of my points.

What have been the most rewarding aspects of writing your thesis?

Having a long-term project that I've completed and can point to as a product of deliberate and sustained effort is immensely gratifying. The chance to work with faculty one-on-one as I was working on my thesis was also an extraordinary experience.

Do you have any advice for concentrators who are approaching the thesis writing stage?

Starting some time midway through the fall, make time to write at least once a day, even if you don't think you have anything new to say. Always be farther ahead than you think you need to be. Also, be sure to give your advisor plenty of time if you send them something that you want them to look at—professors are people with limited time, just like students. Overall, don't freak out—everything will (probably) turn out all right in the end.