Graduate Theses & Dissertations

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Time, Being, and the Image
The three projects that make up this dissertation try to articulate an ontological idea of art; which is to say, they all approach art, or the imagination (as in project two), from the standpoint of a philosophical question concerning the sense of being. The ontological question is elaborated in terms of a theory of the spatial-temporal structure of the aesthetic or sensible realm. This kind of ontology contrasts with a more traditional metaphysical one, where the sense of being is sought within the purely intelligible realm, a realm that transcends the sensible. In projects one and two, the contrast is developed in terms of the Nietzschean/Heideggerian critique of metaphysics, and through the work of Jean-Luc Nancy, who appropriates this critique. In project three, it is developed in terms of Bergson and Deleuze’s critique of objective time, or of any attempt to define being and time in terms of what is static and unchanging. Art is central for the ontology at stake here, and the ontology is one of art, because it is a matter of questioning the spatial-temporal being of the sensible, and not the being of the purely intelligible; and because art (as I try to show) is itself essentially concerned with revealing this ontological dimension of the sensible. Author Keywords: Aesthetics, Art, Being, Fragment, Image, Time
Pedagogy of Renaturalization
This three-part dissertation will consider both theoretical and practical implications that Baruch Spinoza's (1632-1677) immanent philosophical system holds for developing a contemporary “pedagogy of renaturalization.” One of the intents of this thesis is to draw out how “intellectual slut shaming” is a naturalized part of neoliberal subjectivity. In chapter one, we will make the case that the Cartesian and neoliberal subjects share several parallel structures, including mind-body dualism. We will look at how Spinoza’s work supplies us with a powerful critique and expansion of the Cartesian subject. The intent here is to explore how we might apply a similar critique to the neoliberal subject and construct a more joyful subject that resists guilt, shame, and self-hatred. In chapter two, we will explore how Spinoza’s method of affirmation can give us a process to engage ourselves in a pedagogy of renaturalizing ourselves; in other words, to engage in the radical self-reflexivity of understanding ourselves as a part of Spinoza's Nature in order to better affect becomings of ethical joy. We will also examine the challenges and criticism of the affirmative method, and how paradoxically these criticisms serve to reinforce intellectual slut shaming. Chapter three will explore the potential of the methodology of autoethnography and the development of what we are calling “auto-ethology” as a way to put such an affirmative method into practice. By reviewing the dissertation as a whole, we will show how it has been an engagement with Spinozist radical self-reflexivity all along and a performance of auto-ethology. Author Keywords: autoethnography, Baruch Spinoza, Cartesian dualism, critical pedagogy, intellectual slut shaming, neoliberal subject
On Tilt
On Tilt: The Inheritance and Inheritors of Digital Games accepts and extends Eric Zimmerman’s contention that literacies currently being developed during video-game play will be more broadly applicable (outside games) in the next hundred years as Western work, education, entertainment, and citizenship spaces become ever more shaped like video games. To the end of better understanding both video games and the players and literacies contiguous with them, this dissertation interrogates comparisons between video games and... non-digital games, film and other fictional texts and worlds, blogs, casinos’ games of chance, and the strategies employed by face-to-face criminals, always asking about the roles and responsibilities the human participants in these systems take; that is, this dissertation investigates what video games inherit from other forms of art, including non-digital games, and what the gamers and audience of today and tomorrow inherit through their contact with video games. The dissertation examines in detail works by Jodi Dean, Bernard Suits, Bruce Sterling, T. L. Taylor, Walter Benjamin, Gavin de Becker, N. Katherine Hayles and Nicholas Gessler, and Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman, considering their work, the video game, and gamers, in terms of power gaming, genre, fiction and suspension of disbelief, audience, motivations, fungibility, the zombie vs. the robot, value vs. meaning, agency, slipstream, capitalism, and ontology. Ultimately, the dissertation suggests that there are two disparate strains of gamification building Zimmerman’s future, arguing first that the penetration of video games into culture is changing the way we behave and exist as audience and more generally, and, second, that what is at stake, in terms of the attitudes, labels, and gameplay that we accept in terms of games and gamification is significant to what it means to be human, especially within systems that are only partly human, in the next hundred years. Author Keywords: digital, gamification, genre, literacy, new media, videogame
Genre Trouble and Extreme Cinema
This dissertation re-evaluates theories of genre and spectatorship in light of a critic-defined tendency in recent art cinema, coined extreme cinema. It argues that the films of Mexican director Carlos Reygadas and French director Catherine Breillat expand our generic classifications and, through the re-organization of the visual presentation of genre-specific clichés and devices, their films transform sense experience and thought. My approach loosely follows Stanley Cavell’s various assertions of film as a medium of thought or, simply, that films think. Reygadas and Breillat allow spectators to reflect on the genre-film experience; I contend that their films make it apparent that genre is not established prior to the viewing of a work but is recollected and assembled by spectators in ways that matter for them. In fostering this experience of collection, these two directors propose a kind of ethics of curatorship: spectators are tasked with collecting and recollecting their film experience to generate particular social, cultural, and political critiques. To further accomplish and foster film as thought, the directors appeal to spectators’ sense experiences. I therefore deploy contemporary film theories on the senses, both phenomenological and affect theory, and partake in close readings of the films’ forms and narratives. The Introduction outlines my intervention in genre theory, discusses the key theoretical texts, develops the phenomenological framework I employ for the chapters to follow, develops my methodology through a description of Cavell’s style, and presents the stakes of my argument. Chapter one considers the place of experimental narrative cinema in Reygadas’s Post Tenebras Lux (2012). I argue that through his realist style, this film aims at an experience for spectators “as if” in a dream and through this film experience I posit the critique I find internal to the film. The second chapter turns to Catherine Breillat’s oeuvre and the confrontation her work poses to conceptions of pornography. I bring her 2001 feature Fat Girl (À ma soeur!) to bear on what I claim to be a new style of pornographic work and its challenge to patriarchy. The final chapter brings together Reygadas’s Battle in Heaven (Batalla en el cielo, 2005) and Breillat’s Sex is Comedy (2002) to accomplish an analysis of sexual performances in otherwise dramatic films. Author Keywords: art cinema, Carlos Reygadas, Catherine Breillat, contemporary cinema, film theory, genre theory
Technology of Consent
The 1980s in the United States have come into focus as years of extensive ideological and socioeconomic fracture. A conservative movement arose to counter the progressive gains of previous decades, neoliberalism became the nation’s economic mantra, and détente was jettisoned in favour of military build-up. Such developments materialized out of a multitude of conflicts, a cultural crisis of ideas, perspectives, and words competing to maintain or rework the nation’s core structures. In this dissertation I argue that alongside these conflicts, a crisis over technology and its ramifications played a crucial role as well, with the American public grasping for ways to comprehend a nascent technoculture. Borrowing from Andrew Feenberg, I define three broad categories of popular conceptualization used to comprehend a decade of mass technical and social transformations: the instrumental view, construing technology as a range of efficient tools; the substantive view, insisting technology is an environment that determines its subjects; and a critical approach, which recognizes the capacity for technology to shape subjects, but also its potential to aid new social agendas. Using Feenberg’s categories as interpretive lenses, I foreground these epistemologies in three of the decade’s most popular formations of literary science fiction (sf), and describe the broader discourses they participated in: military sf is connected to military strategy and weapons development (instrumental), cyberpunk to postmodernism and posthumanism (substantive), and feminist sf to feminist theory and politics (critical). These were not just discursive trajectories, I claim, but vital contributors to the material construction of what Antonio Gramsci would call hegemonic and counterhegemonic formations. While the instrumental paradigm was part of the decade’s prevailing hegemonic make-up, substantive and critical discourses offered an alternative to the reality of cowboy militarism and unchecked technological expansion. By engaging with the decade’s texts—from There Will Be War to RoboCop to “A Cyborg Manifesto”—I hope to illuminate what I call the technology of consent, the significance of technological worldviews for modern technocultures, where such views are consented to by subaltern groups, and at the same time the existence of consent itself as a kind of complex social technology in the first place. Author Keywords: American History, Discourse, Hegemony, Science Fiction, Technoculture, Technology
Hiya 'aa ma pichas 'ope ma hammako he ma pap'oyyisko (Let Us Understand Again our Grandmothers and our Grandfathers)
The Tamalko (Coast Miwok) North Central California Indigenous people have lived in their homelands since their beginnings. California Indigenous people have suffered violent and uncompromising colonial assaults since European contact began in the 16th century. However, many contemporary Indigenous Californians are thriving today as they reclaim their Native American sovereign rights, cultural renewal, and well-being. Culture Bearers are working diligently as advocates and teachers to re-cultivate Indigenous consciousness and knowledge systems. The Tamalko author offers Indigenous perspectives for hinak towis hennak (to make a good a life) through an ethno-autobiographical account based on narratives by Culture Bearers from four Indigenous North Central California Penutian-speaking communities and the author’s personal experiences. A Tamalko view of finding and speaking truth hinti wuskin ʼona (what the heart says) has been the foundational principle of the research method used to illuminate and illustrate Indigenous North Central California consciousness. Author Keywords: Consciousness, Culture Bearers, Indigenous, North Central California, Penutian, re-cultivation
Colonialism, Capitalism, and the Rise of State Schooling in British Columbia, 1849-1900
This dissertation examines the historical relationship between settler colonialism, capitalism, and the rise of state schooling in what is now known as British Columbia between 1849 and 1900. It aims to “unsettle” conventional views of Canadian schooling history by bringing accounts of Indigenous and non-Indigenous education into one analytical frame, and it shows how the state used different forms of schooling for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous children—company, common, public, mission, day, boarding, and industrial schools—to assist colonial-capitalist social formation in the Pacific Northwest. In combining interdisciplinary insights from Indigenous studies, historical materialism, political economy, and critical pedagogy, the dissertation highlights the ways in which state-supported schooling facilitated capitalist accumulation by colonial dispossession. The central argument of the dissertation is that between 1849 and 1900, colonial, provincial, and federal governments strategically took on greater responsibility for schooling as a way of legitimizing the state and supporting the emergence of a capitalist settler society. Author Keywords: Capitalism, Education, Indian Residential Schools, Indigenous Peoples, Settler Colonialism, Violence
Union Organizing in the Canadian Banking Industry, 1940–1980
In this dissertation, I examine union organizing in the Canadian banking industry between 1940 and 1980. By demonstrating that bank workers consistently sought to unionize throughout the twentieth century, I challenge claims that bank employees and other private sector white-collar workers have low rates of unionization because they are not interested in unions or suffer from false consciousness. This research also suggests, however, that many bank workers saw themselves as different from blue-collar industrial workers; the lived reality of bank work as precarious, poorly paid, and rife with gender inequality intersected with ideas about professionalism and aspirations of advancing up the career ladder. Banks, unions, and workers drew on these ideas and experiences in their arguments for and against unionization. I also look at why previous organizing efforts did not establish a strong union presence in the banking industry. Most of these attempts failed, I argue, due to several key issues, including the banks’ anti-union activity, federal and provincial labour board decisions, and labour movement disputes over ideology, jurisdiction, and strategy. The banks consistently opposed unionization and used a variety of tactics to thwart union organizing, both overtly and covertly. The state, in the form of labour legislation and labour boards, provided unions and workers with some means by which to compel the banks to recognize unions, negotiate contracts, and deal with employee grievances; however, state action and inaction more often worked to undermine union organizing. The attitudes and strategies of high-ranking labour movement officials also shaped the outcome of union drives in the banks. Between 1940 and 1980, the mostly male labour leadership repeatedly used top-down organizing strategies and appointed male organizers with no experience of bank work to oversee union drives in a sector with an increasingly feminized workforce; labour leaders’ inability or unwillingness to reflect on this approach and to support grassroots campaigns and alternative strategies hindered bank union organizing. I thus highlight the intersection of gender and class and reveal how these factors have historically shaped the labour movement bureaucracy, union organizing, and the relationship between labour and the state. Author Keywords: banks, gender, labour bureaucracy, trade unions, union organizing, white-collar workers
Fungi and Cytokinins
Cytokinin biosynthesis in organisms aside from plant species has often been viewed as a byproduct of tRNA degradation. Recent evidence suggests that these tRNA degradation products may actually have a role in the development of these organisms, particularly fungi. This thesis examines the importance of cytokinins, a group of phytohormones involved in plant cell division and differentiation as well as the phytohormone abscisic acid, involved in plant response to environmental factors, and their presence and role in fungi. An initial survey was conducted on 20 temperate forest fungi of differing nutritional modes. Using HPLC-ESI MS/MS, cytokinin and abscisic acid were detected in all fungi regardless of their mode of nutrition or phylogeny. The detection of the same seven CKs across all fungi suggested the existence of a common CK biosynthetic pathway and dominance of the tRNA pathway in fungi. Further, the corn smut fungus Ustilago maydis is capable of producing CKs separate from its host and different U. maydis strains induce disease symptoms of differing severity. To determine if CK production during infection alters disease development a disease time course was conducted on cob tissue infected with U. maydis dikaryotic and solopathogenic strains. Dramatic changes in phytohormones including an increase in ABA followed by increases in cisZCKs were detected in tumour tissue particularity in the more virulent dikaryon infection, suggesting a role for CKs in strain virulence. Mining of the U. maydis genome identified a sole tRNA-isopentenyltransferase, a key enzyme in CK biosynthesis. Targeted gene deletion mutants were created in U. maydis which halted U. maydis CK production and decreased pathogenesis and virulence in seedling and cob infections. CK and ABA profiling carried out during disease development found that key changes in these hormones were not found in deletion mutant infections and cob tumour development was severely impaired. These findings suggested that U. maydis CK production is necessary for tumour development in this pathosystem. The research presented in this thesis highlights the importance of fungal CKs, outlines the dominant CK pathway in fungi, identifies a key enzyme in U. maydis CK biosynthesis and reveals the necessity of CK production by U. maydis in the development of cob tumours. Author Keywords: abscisic acid, cytokinins, high performance liquid chromatography-electrospray ionization tandem mass spectrometry, tRNA degradation pathway, Ustilago maydis, Zea mays
Re-Living the Residential School Experience
The residential school legacy is one of the darkest chapters in Canadian history. From the mid-1850s to 1996, thousands of Aboriginal children were taken from their homelands and placed in residential schools. Taken against their will, many dreaded attending these schools. Some attended for as long as ten to fifteen years, only to be strangers in their own communities upon their return. In the past thirty years, survivors began disclosing the loneliness, confusion, fear, punishment and humiliation they suffered within these institutions, and also reported traumatic incidents of sexual, physical or emotional abuse. These childhood traumas still haunt them today. This dissertation examines the four compensation processes (Litigation, Alternative Dispute Resolution, Independent Assessment Process and the Common Experience Process) used by survivors to determine whether the compensation payments made to them assisted in reconciliation of their residential school experience. To complete an analysis of the processes, twenty-four residential school survivors from Ontario, Manitoba and British Columbia were interviewed about their experiences with one or more of the compensation processes. The study begins with a historical overview of the residential school legacy and continues with the residential school healing movement that initiated and finalized a negotiated settlement agreement for all living survivors. This dissertation provides a unique perspective to the residential school legacy by using a cultural framework, Anishinabe teachings and concepts to share the voices of residential school survivors. The pivotal Anishinabe teaching within this study comes from The Seventh Fire Prophecy. This prophecy states that: “If the New People will remain strong in their quest, the Waterdrum of the Midewiwin Lodge will again sound its voice.” In this dissertation the residential school survivors are the New People. As the dissertation unfolds the author utilizes various Anishinabe concepts to illustrate how the compensation processes failed to assist the New People to reconcile with their residential school experience. This study presents a medicine wheel understanding of reconciliation and the Residential School Legacy. It concludes with an important message to the second and third generation survivors to continue the reconciliatory efforts that the New People introduced. It is crucial that the children and grandchildren of the New People begin the reconciliation process not only for themselves but for the next seven generations. Author Keywords: Anishinabe, compensation, Indian residential schools, reconciliation, survivors
Synthesis of Lipid Based Polyols from 1-butene Metathesized Palm Oil for Use in Polyurethane Foam Applications
This thesis explores the use of 1-butene cross metathesized palm oil (PMTAG) as a feedstock for preparation of polyols which can be used to prepare rigid and flexible polyurethane foams. PMTAG is advantageous over its precursor feedstock, palm oil, for synthesizing polyols, especially for the preparation of rigid foams, because of the reduction of dangling chain effects associated with the omega unsaturated fatty acids. 1-butene cross metathesis results in shortening of the unsaturated fatty acid moieties, with approximately half of the unsaturated fatty acids assuming terminal double bonds. It was shown that the associated terminal OH groups introduced through epoxidation and hydroxylation result in rigid foams with a compressive strength approximately 2.5 times higher than that of rigid foams from palm and soybean oil polyols. Up to 1.5 times improvement in the compressive strength value of the rigid foams from the PMTAG polyol was further obtained following dry and/or solvent assisted fractionation of PMTAG in order to reduce the dangling chain effects associated with the saturated components of the PMTAG. Flexible foams with excellent recovery was achieved from the polyols of PMTAG and the high olein fraction of PMTAG indicating that these bio-derived polyurethane foams may be suitable for flexible foam applications. PMTAG polyols with controlled OH values prepared via an optimized green solvent free synthetic strategy provided flexible foams with lower compressive strength and higher recovery; i.e., better flexible foam potential compared to the PMTAG derived foams with non-controlled OH values. Overall, this study has revealed that the dangling chain issues of vegetable oils can be addressed in part using appropriate chemical and physical modification techniques such as cross metathesis and fractionation, respectively. In fact, the rigidity and the compressive strength of the polyurethane foams were in very close agreement with the percentage of terminal hydroxyl and OH value of the polyol. The results obtained from the study can be used to convert PMTAG like materials into industrially valuable materials. Author Keywords: Compressive Strength, Cross Metathesis, Fractionation, Polyols, Polyurethane Foams, Vegetable Oils
Novel Aliphatic Lipid-Based Diesters for use in Lubricant Formulations
Structure-property relationships are increasingly valued for the identification of specifically engineered materials with properties optimized for targeted application(s). In this work, linear and branched diesters for use in lubricant formulations are prepared from lipid-based oleochemicals and their structure-property relationships reported. It is shown that the branched diesters possess exceptional physical property profiles, including suppression of crystallization, and are superior alternatives for use in lubricant formulations. For the linear aliphatic diesters, both high and low temperature properties were predictable functions of total chain length, and both were differently influenced by the fatty acid versus diol chain length. Symmetry did not influence either, although thermal stability decreased and thermal transition temperatures increased with increasing saturation. All of the linear diesters demonstrated Newtonian flow behaviour. Viscosity was also predictable as a function of total chain length; any microstructural features due to structural effects were superseded by mass effects. Author Keywords: Crystallization, Phase behaviour, Rheology, Structure-Function, Thermogravimetric analysis, Vegetable Oils

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