Graduate Theses & Dissertations

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Ludic Fictions, Lucid Games
This thesis elucidates the role of play and games—the ludic—in Julio Cortázar’s novel Hopscotch (1966; translation of Rayuela, 1963) through a range of resonant theories. Literary gameplay dominates the formal, linguistic, affective, reflexive, and thematic dimensions of Hopscotch, which are analyzed through concepts borrowed from play theorist Roger Caillois, among others, and literary theorists including Mikhail Bakhtin and Wolfgang Iser, whose ludic theories of fiction begin to map the field of ludic fiction. The analysis positions Hopscotch as an exemplar of the ludic counter-tradition within the novel, a perennial tendency from Don Quixote to postmodernism and beyond. Hopscotch, like other ludic fictions, enacts a complex convergence of the ludic and the lucid. It provokes active reading over passive consumption, diminishes the hegemonic function of serious mimesis to elevate other forms of gameplay, notably chance, competition, vertigo, and enigma, to dominant positions, and ultimately demonstrates a profound affinity between play and critical consciousness. Author Keywords: Bakhtin, Cortazar, Iser, Ludic, Novel, Play
Agony of Writing Or Ambivalent Reversal In Baudrillard's Stylistic Metamorphoses
Following Baudrillard's conceptual and stylistic shift of the mid-70s, this thesis argues that said shift is accounted for by understanding the ontological quandary Baudrillard found himself in after developing a theoretical agonism impossible to divorce from the practice of writing. By tracing the conceptual metamorphoses of key terms including semiotic ambivalence, symbolic exchange and theoretical writing itself as a total agonistic process, this thesis demonstrates that theory is not reducible to epistemic production but is rather the contentious site of challenge and aesthetic (dis)appearance. Each chapter examines a conceptual tension revealing insoluble, conflicting social forms. These forms reveal the reversibility Baudrillard finds at work in all social phenomena. These culminate in a chapter that tackles Baudrillard's writing itself as a social form that endeavours to embody the agonistic theoretical concept as a process rather than remaining a representation, or commentary on, ambivalent social conflict. Author Keywords: agonist, ambivalence, Baudrillard, reversibility, style, writing
Mythopoeia Sylvatica
Since British colonization of North America and the beginning of Anglo-speaking Euro-Canada and the United States, myth-making or representations of the forests have witnessed degradation and loss of old-growth forest ecosystems or intact sylvan landscapes. Canadian and American versions of the story of the North American Forests shared the same trajectory: forests as ‘wasted-land’ or the sylvan wilderness (terra nullius) divided into properties and cleared to “improve” the land for settlement/agriculture, forests as storehouses for timber and imperial expansion, forest landscapes and specific forest trees as identity politics and sources of industrial and economic power. While forests are recognized according to various stakeholders’ values today, what is commonly accepted as a forest varies widely. The meaning given to “forest” determines related terms and concepts, such as “sustainable forestry” and “reforestation.” This thesis addresses the issue of social-bioecological degradation, loss, and dis(re)membering of old-growth forests and problematizes traditional Western relationships with old wildwoods shaped by notions of space, politics, and economy. In the forest topos, the core question becomes which forest(s) are being imagined, represented, and remembered? Whose environmental imagination is shaping the landscape? As a critical topographical exploration of the North American forests through six witness trees, this thesis demonstrates how the meanings imbued in trees and wild woods come to determine the fate of the forests. It reveals how colonial values and trends persist in our societies still, and calls for an ethical social-ecological reimagining of the forests through traditions of ethical storytelling and environmental witnessing. Author Keywords: critical topography, environmental generational amnesia, environmental witnessing, forests, social-ecological systems, witness trees
the sex killer drives a panel pin into his ear-hole
I have two goals. One, to offer new insights into Vienna Actionism (VA) and their notorious performances, through Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari’s notion of the body without organs (BwO); and two, not simply to provide descriptions of the Vienna Actionists’ performances, but also to write what I am calling a thesis without organs. Documents from the Vienna Actionists, specifically Muehl’s Leda and the Swan (1964), Brus’ Vienna Walk (1965) and Nitsch’s O.M. Theatre (1960-present), become documents without organs; they are documents that do not simply document original performances, but re-perform original performances while acting as performances themselves. Challenging the notion of live performance as fundamentally separate from its documentation (as performance theorist Peggy Phelan argues) through what Philip Auslander calls the document’s performativity and what Christopher Bedford calls a viral ontology of performance, my thesis becomes a performance in and of itself. A thesis without organs. Keywords: performance, performativity, viral ontology of performance, body without organs, rhizome, dirt, metaphor, metonymy, Vienna Actionism, Gilles Deleuze, Félix Guattari, Peggy Phelan, Philip Auslander, Christopher Bedford, Mary Douglas. Author Keywords: Body without Organs, Performance, Performativity, Vienna Actionism
On (Digital) Photographic Image-Objects
On the first page of the much read, Camera Lucida, Roland Barthes reveals his motive: “I was overcome by an “ontological” desire: I wanted to learn at all costs what Photography was “in itself,” by what essential feature it was to be distinguished from the community of images.” The impetus of this thesis might be called a Barthesian desire to learn what distinguishes digital photographic images from all other photographic images. Throughout, I ask: what is a digital image? The first exploratory turn reflects upon photographs and touch. While photographs are objects that are both touched and touching, digital images are inscrutable data assemblages that resist touch and are predisposed to speed. Digital images cannot be touched, yet are responsive to touch. Through the mediating magic of touch sensitive glass, we command digital images to move. Chapter two considers prevailing late twentieth century theory on the digital photograph that claims the eclipse of film by digital imaging will render [digital] photographs totally unreliable documents. The results have been surprising; although suspicion about digital image bodies has crept into the cultural psychological fabric, I argue that we still believe in the basic veracity of [digital] photographic images. Finally, I turn my attention to the objecthood of digital imageobjects in a discussion of the widely unacknowledged materiality of data. Digital image-objects—those speedy, untouchable, dubious, things—are heavy. The weight of their bodies moving in the vast—unseen—global technological infrastructure is the burden of my final reflection. Author Keywords: death of film, digital materiality, digital photographic realism, ontology of the image, philosophy of photography, photography after photography
Dennis Lee's Testament
The future-poetry of Dennis Lee published in Testament (2012) is the culmination of four cycles of creativity in his lifetime, each seeking a Real beyond the nihilism of technological modernity. Ultimately, Lee wagers the role of the poet and the future of poetic language on Earth on a non-modern that risks entangling the poet who enters void and embodies its meaninglessness. CHAPTER ONE: To approach this wager, the thesis first identifies the sources in philosophy of a Canadian Romantic modernism embraced by George Grant in collegial exchanges with Dennis Lee during the period of Civil Elegies (1972). Grant elicits a politics out of Nietzsche; Lee extends a poetics out of classical experimental modernism, made intelligible in this thesis by Mallarmé’s “cadence” or “rhythm” of things in nothingness and by Beckett’s word-play at the impasse of naming. CHAPTER TWO: To think beyond the mastery of the world by technique is to encounter a choice between silence as assumed by Grant and nonsense as explored by Lee during the period of Alligator Pie (1974) and The Gods (1979). CHAPTER THREE: The example of Paul Celan and his revisiting of Hölderlin provokes Lee to attend upon cadence at the level of the discrete word, an experiment with the dissolution of language and selfhood anticipated in the period of Riffs (1993) and Nightwatch (1996). Here, the undermusic felt to belong to the life-world (Lebenswelt) impacts as affect, in contrast to Celan’s alienated death-walk. CHAPTER FOUR: In the spirit of “post-internet poetry,” and by means of the spontaneous polyphonic scoring of cadence, Lee transforms the modernist impasse at the void into a further contradiction, the living of which may allow the poet access to a non-modern, but at a cost: the loss of poetry to incomprehension and insignificance, the reduction of the poet to a medium of the void, the dissolving of structure into materialities colliding in chance. Author Keywords: Dennis Lee, George Grant, Nonsense, Paul Celan, Technological Modernity, Void
Denizens of Virtual Worlds
This thesis studies a subset of players of video games called “power-gamers” who play games in a way that mirrors labour as opposed to leisure. Through ethnographic fieldwork and exploration this thesis examines what constitutes “power-gaming” and seeks to unpack the differences between skill, fun, and labour. Chapter One analyzes how ethnographic fieldwork is performed in virtual worlds, and the necessary frameworks inherent to this. Chapter Two explores facets of technical hobbies, masculinity, skill, and how they relate to power-gaming. Chapter Three explores how different cultures globally choose to play-games, and the forms of sociability involved in this play. Chapter Four examines reality in relation to virtual worlds, and how players in virtual worlds explore and unpack their surroundings, which mirrors many scientific practices in the real world. Chapter Five explores narrative structure in games, and their relation to power-gaming practices. Chapter Six concludes with a discussion of power-gamers as a neo-liberal workforce. Author Keywords: game design, neo-liberalism, playbour, power-gamer, sociability, virtual-ethnography
Shaman Detective
This thesis examines a specific figure that appears throughout contemporary Japanese detective fiction (across different media), which I have termed the Shaman detective. A liminal figure that combines Japanese folk cosmologies with contemporary detective work, the Shaman detective is at once similar to, yet separate from, western postmodernist detective fiction. Invested in narratives of enchantment the Shaman detective is marked by his rejection of the epistemological ties of the modern and classical detectives that cause his counterparts to fail in the face of postmodern subjectivism. Committed to il-logic, dreaming, play, and intuition, the Shaman detective exists in the realm of the Fantastic, bridging the gap between mundane and marvellous realities. This thesis reads Shaman detective texts using western postmodernist theory with Todorov’s theory of the Fantastic and Jane Bennett’s New Materialism. This is synthesized with Japanese thought traditions, cosmologies and philosophies, in order to draw out the Shaman detective. Author Keywords: Enchantment, Japanese Fiction, New Materialism, Postmodern Fiction, Shamanism, the Fantastic
On the Cyberflaneur
This thesis is a critical response to Evgeny Morozov’s article proclaiming the death of the cyberflâneur. Suspicious of the superficiality of his argument, I developed a practico-theoretical project to prove that the cyberflâneur is not dead but alive – or, if it were dead, to rescue it from its grave and bring it back to life. In the course of my response to Morozov, I develop a theoretical foundation that allows me to continue thinking about the concept and practice of the cyberflâneur in the context of the Internet. In doing so, I rely on Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari’s “Treatise on Nomadology: The War Machine” (2011), in combination with a history of the tradition of wandering. We are living in a postmodern-posthuman era driven by the chaotic and confusing forces that are manifested through the Internet. As such, it is no longer enough to be concerned with opening the space where we live, move and think; we cannot retreat to nature, we can’t escape society. However, I see potential in the Internet. The Internet, as a physical and material network, can be actualized as an apparatus of capture. It operates as a medium for accelerating or limiting speed, or as an apparatus for the control of the transmission of information. I develop the cyberflâneur as an aesthetic figure that reveals the Internet’s potential. If these revelations happen to be transmitted, then everyday life can again become an object of dispute, rather than unmeditated habituation. Author Keywords: Cyberflâneur, Everyday Life, Internet, Nomadology, Research-creation, Wandering
Control, Surveillance and Subjective Commodification on Facebook
This thesis is a theoretical study of Facebook's surveillance project. It begins by taking one of the predominant organizational forms of modern surveillance, Foucaultian panopticism, and examining the ways in which its form, along with Foucault's broader model of the disciplinary society, is realized, remixed and extended by Facebook's virtual form. Following this evaluation, the remainder of the thesis proposes a model to augment this panoptical analysis. The first part of this model uses Deleuze and Guattari's philosophy of the rhizome to explain the structural design and advantages of Facebook's network, while the second part deploys Zygmunt Bauman and David Lyon's concept of "liquid surveillance" as a means to explain how Facebook fosters seductive conditions of self-surveillance. The thesis concludes that older forms of control, new forms of seduction and the utility of advanced technologies are responsible in tandem for the undeniably widespread success of Facebook's surveillance project. Author Keywords: Bauman, Deleuze, Facebook, Foucault, post-panopticism, surveillance
RE-IMAGINING THE LAW OF DISPUTE RESOLUTION
This project examines the development and deployment of mediation frameworks in Canada with the goal of advocating for the restoration of dispute resolution as the site of democratic politics. In doing so we enlist the work of Petyr Kropotkin's theory of Mutual Aid and a brief history of Alternative Dispute Resolution in Canada to identify procedural differences in mediation processes that separate interest mediation, rights mediation and litigation. We then turn to two separate analyses of these differences. The first utilizes the theoretical framework of Jacques Rancière. The second examines the work of Hannah Arendt. Despite the significant differences in their approaches, the work of Rancière and Arendt, in admittedly different ways, show that interest mediation holds the greatest potential for approaching dispute resolution as an exercise in democratic politics. As a result the project advocates for the expansion or further empowerment of interest mediation as a way of securing and ensuring the continued development of Canada as a democratic community. Author Keywords: Alternative Dispute Resolution, Hannah Arendt, Jacques Rancière, Mediation, Mutual Aid, Petyr Kropotkin
"TOUGH BUT NECESSARY"? AN ANALYSIS OF NEOLIBERAL AND ANTI-FEMINIST DISCOURSES USED IN THE ELIMINATION OF THE NEW BRUNSWICK ADVISORY COUNCIL ON THE STATUS OF WOMEN
This study demonstrates that the New Brunswick government rationalized the 2011 elimination of the New Brunswick Advisory Council on the Status of Women (NBACSW) by discursively framing it as a duplication of services and as a non-essential service. The study relies on interviews with women who had been involved with the NBACSW, as well as literature about the use of neoliberal and anti-feminist discourses at the national level. I argue that the two rationalizations offered by the New Brunswick government rely on similar neoliberal and anti-feminist discourses to those used at the national level to eliminate women's institutional machinery and thus diminish women's capacities for advocacy and political representation. I argue that this discursive move positioned the province's largest women's advocacy group as an impediment to the common good of the province and as a threat to "Ordinary New Brunswickers," signalling a negative step for women in the province. Author Keywords: Anti-feminist backlash, Canadian Feminism, Canadian Women's Movements, Discourse Analysis, Neoliberalism, New Brunswick

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