Graduate Theses & Dissertations

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Remembering the "Home" through YouTube Cooking Videos
This thesis examines how food, culture and identity are linked to the idea of "home." Through a reading of oral narratives produced on the YouTube channel "ShowMetheCurry," I investigate how presenters Anuja and Hetal "write back" from a diasporic space in Texas, to the YouTube global public, and how food and cuisine, even in the age of globalization can be problematic in terms of representation of identities, work and space. I explore how the YouTube videos operate as a heterotopia, as what is presented to the audience in this medium is an embedding of spaces. The space that is projected through "ShowMetheCurry," that of Anuja and Hetal's own home kitchen, is then projected and viewed within the audiences' own spaces, in various locations around the world. What connects these spaces is an interest in cooking, and a longing to satiate culinary nostalgia. Author Keywords: Affect, Culinary nostalgia, Discourse analysis, Food culture, South Asian Diaspora, YouTube
Engaging the Unwritten Text
This study is an attempt to look at how orality plays a role in modern society to move people to action in a social engineering process. By examining the theories for the formation of publics as outlined by Jurgen Habermas and Michael Warner, I argue for the existence of an oral public and further show that it can be engineered with some of the tools provided. This theoretical foundation provides a pathway for a thorough examination of orality as a tool for social engineering and shows how the practices moved the people in the past. In this study, I posit that the oral traditions are still alive and well in modern times and still function as a tool for moving people to social action. To achieve this, orality makes use of popular culture. This study examines elements of popular culture with a view to unearthing the presence of oral modes and how they are still carrying on the same function of social engineering in a modern society. This study concludes by positioning orality as a relevant tool for social engineering in modern Nigerian society and affirms that it is still relevant in the areas of politics, literature and cultural productions with possibilities yet untapped in the area of digital technology. Author Keywords: Nigeria, Orality, Popular culture, Publics, Public Sphere, Social Engineering
Robert Bringhurst and Polyphonic Poetry
Robert Bringhurst states that polyphonic art is a faithful, artistic reflection of the multiplicity of the world’s ecosystems. This ecocritical perspective recognizes that human art informs our understandings of the world, and therefore artists have a moral obligation towards that world. In Chapter One I argue that mimesis should be reclaimed as a useful literary category since all art, regardless of intentions, has an effect on both culture and the natural world. In Chapter Two I argue that by reconnecting publishing craft and philosophy, our books can serve to bring us more in tune with the structures of the natural world. I conclude in Chapter Three by asking how a counterpublic consciousness can be cultivated, and how Bringhurst’s mission of transforming culture might be fully realized. Altogether, this view of literature offers an antidote to Western culture’s destructive tendencies towards the natural world. Author Keywords: Bringhurst, ecocriticism, mimesis, poetry, polyphony, typography
All I've Found is Pain and Terror
This thesis is concerned with how specific aesthetic elements function in various contemporary texts to distort, obscure, or illuminate the immoral actions and behaviours being represented. This thesis applies the moral status philosophy of Mary Anne Warren, along with the moral philosophy of Emmanuel Lévinas and Zygmunt Bauman. Close reading and critical analysis are supported by Michele Aaron’s theory of spectatorship. The sublime is explored in Dexter (2006) and Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (1986), the uncanny in Battlestar Galactica (2003) and Westworld (2016), and the abject in The Walking Dead (2003) and World War Z (2006). The intentions of this project are to conduct a formal examination of the relationship between audience and text as it is filtered through aesthetic representation and moral frameworks. This thesis argues that aesthetic effects must be understood in connection to morality for active consumers to engage with these texts as sites for ethical consideration. Author Keywords: aesthetic theory, moral status philosophy, Popular fiction, spectatorship, The Walking Dead, Westworld
From Reading to Reality
This thesis explores post-millennial girl fiction, or young adult works published for girls since the turn of the millennium. Writing for girls has been traditionally placed beneath `more serious' literature, within a hierarchal model, while modern works enjoy an iconic status that is the product of cross-media popularity and a wide readership. Criticism has focused on post-millennial girl fiction being unwholesome, poorly written or anti-feminist, examination of the texts reveals personas which girls may use to explore, rebel against and critically examine societal expectations and fears about girlhood. To explore the publishing phenomenon surrounding current girls' fiction I use two sample series: Gossip Girl by Cecily Von Ziegesar and Twilight by Stephanie Meyer. Chapter One contrasts current girl's fiction with texts written about girlhood, followed with an analysis of the good-girl and bad-girl archetypes which are developed within the two groups of texts. I then consider the stylistic and structural elements presented within the fiction and the impact such elements may have on the girl public. In the conclusion, I consider the wider societal impacts of post-millennial girl fiction through social media, extended readership, cross-media influence and the responses of girl readers. Author Keywords: Feminist Criticism, girlhood, Gossip Girl series, public theory, Twilight series, young adult fiction
Flesh Made Real
This thesis examines what the term "transgender narrative" represents at this particular time and location. I do this by examining various methods of transgender storytelling through different forms of media production, including autobiography, film, novels, and online platforms such as Tumblr and YouTube. In chapter one, I look at the production of novels and the value system by which they are judged ("gender capital") in transgender publics and counterpublics. In chapter two, I examine the history of the autobiography, along with the medical history closely associated with transgender identity and bodily transformation. The third chapter examines notions of violence and memorial behind the deaths of transgender people and the ways in which certain political revolutions are formed within a counterpublic. I deconstruct varying notions of identity, authorship, and cultural production and critically examine what it means to be transgender and what it means to tell stories about transgender people. I will conclude with how these stories are being shaped through social media to become more innovative and move away from the rigid value system of gender capital previously mentioned. Author Keywords: autobiography, gender, sex, social media, transgender, transsexual
"Learning to Be Mad, In a Dream"
The Beat Generation shaped, and was shaped by, the post-WWII containment culture that arose in 1950s America. This so-called cultural containment reflected the social, political, and economic factors that were unique to the post-WWII period and are often considered concurrent to post-war McCarthyism, which promoted a national ideology of exclusionism that was foremost opposed to the threat of Communism. I propose in my thesis that containment was a major influence in the rhetoric of resistance that is found within the most prominent works of the Generation. My thesis also looks at the how Beat literature shifted from the counterculture to the mainstream and the impact that celebrity had on the Generation. When the Beats achieved literary fame their counterculture represented the forefront of the New Left and was synonymous with succeeding protest cultures of the 1960s. Author Keywords: Beat Generation, Cold War, Containment Culture, McCarthyism, Postmodernism, Second Wave Feminism
Educating the Passions
My thesis proposes to uncover what I term an Emilian Philosophy in the reading of Emily Brontë’s only novel, and suggests that Wuthering Heights reflects Brontë’s vision of a society progressing toward social and spiritual reform. Through this journey, Brontë seeks to conciliate the two contrasting sides of humanity – natural and social – by offering a middle state that willingly incorporates social law without perverting human nature by forcing it to mold itself into an unnatural social system, which in turn leads to a “wholesome” (Gesunde) humanity. While Heathcliff embodies Bronte’s view of a primitive stage of humanity, Hareton reincarnates the wholesome state of humanity that balances human natural creativity and cravings with Victorian unrelenting reason. Brontë treats Heathcliff’s death as a point in life, in which mankind is emancipated from social constraints and is able to achieve ultimate happiness. This view of death is reassuring as it displaces the anxiety associated with death and separation. My study will highlight the influence of Friedrich Schiller’s, Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Philosophical writings and literary works, as well as the influence of the Franciscan Order in Catholicism and its founder St Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals and environment, in framing Bronte’s philosophy to propose a social and religious reform anchored in nature. Author Keywords: Friedrich Schiller, Jean-Jacque Rousseau, Natural Education, Reincarnation and Reformation, St Francis of Assisi, wholesome (Gesunde) humanity, Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë
Authenticity, Authority and Control
This three-part history explores Web 2.0’s ability to make music products a collaborative, ongoing creative process that is reflective of early twentieth century live-music publics, where the realization of a performance was actualized by performers together with their audience in a shared physical space. By extension, I follow the changing dynamic of the producer/consumer relationship as they transitioned through different media and formats that altered their respective roles in music making. This study considers the role that rock ideology, specifically that of the ‘indie-rock’ habitus, plays in shaping both a rock artist’s desired image and a fan-base’s expectations. How rock musicians use the internet reveals their own views on authenticity in recorded music and the extent to which they are willing to participate in a public with their audience. Primary case studies used are: Neil Young, Dave Bidini, Beck Hansen and Joel Plaskett. Keywords: popular music; indie-rock; Web 2.0; rock music collaboration; fan participation; publics; authenticity; habitus; Neil Young; Dave Bidini; Beck Hansen; Joel Plaskett; Song Reader; Scrappy Happiness; Canadian music Author Keywords: authenticity, fan participation, indie-rock habitus, popular music, rock music collaboration, Web 2.0
Return to "The Child"
Despite - or perhaps because of - her popularity as a best-selling poet, the work of Mary Oliver has been minimized and marginalized within the academy. Nevertheless, Oliver's readership is an expansive and devout one made up of a wired yet insular North American public in search of reconnecting with the natural world. I propose that through Oliver's poetry readers access the affective, sensory responses to nature first encountered during childhood. This return to "the child" is deliberately used by various publics to share communal goals. Drawing from such frameworks as ecocritical and trauma theory, I explore environmental memory, ecstatic places, and the sensuousness of nature and language to consider ways in which diverse publics claim and use Oliver's work. I provide a close reading of selections of Oliver's poems to argue that her work's appeal speaks to a revived perception of the necessity of nature to the human spirit Author Keywords: Attentiveness, Childhood, Language, Mary Oliver, Nature Poetry, Senses
“A City is Not a Place of Origins”
This thesis explores the work of Black queer authors who write and reproduce cities in their texts. James Baldwin and Dionne Brand create knowable and readable spaces of the cities in which they write. By studying the work of these two authors, this thesis seeks to understand how Black queer people navigate city spaces, and how Black queer authors create a literary imaginary about the cities in which their novels are set. Thus, the cities of New York and Toronto become knowable sites through the novels of Dionne Brand and James Baldwin. Using Black queer theory, Black diaspora theory, and Black literary theory, this thesis engages with the novels, essays, and interviews of James Baldwin and Dionne Brand to determine that urban spaces are both liberatory and traumatic for Black queer people. Author Keywords: Baldwin, Black Queer Studies, Black Women, Brand, Diaspora Studies, Lesbian
Songs We Share (and the Records We Steal)
This thesis explores the rhetoric of theft imposed on online music by comparing file sharing to shoplifting. Since the litigation between the music industry and Napster, file sharing has been perceived, both by the entertainment industry and by a music listening public, as a criminal act. However, file sharing has more in common with home taping and music archives than it does with music shoplifting. It differs from theft in terms of law, motivation and publicness. In reviewing three histories -- a history of petty theft, a history of policing online music, and a history of shoplifting narratives in popular music culture -- the implications for the cultural production of popular music and popular music identity become apparent. In the end, file sharing links itself more to parody and the concept of fairness than it does to youth rebellion and therefore is unsuitable for sustaining a traditional music industry and the values it has formed with its public. Author Keywords: copyright, cultural production, file sharing, mp3, popular music, shoplifting

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