Graduate Theses & Dissertations

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"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
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
Alpha and Omega
Game texts present unique and dynamic opportunities for lability: how readers can make choices while reading that alter the narrative's nature or outcome. Labile decisions are neither simply correct nor incorrect--the reader renders judgement to produce a desired outcome. When encountering labile challenges, players employ an interpretive strategy to resolve them. Many game texts tell stories. Games anticipate readers' interpretive strategies to orchestrate a desired result in labile narratives and manipulate players into inhabiting an identity in a variety of different ways. This thesis examines how Fallout 3 does so with periodically opposable intentions, mainly applying an inconsistent moral orthodoxy via the player character's father, but occasionally exhibiting the series' nihilistic philosophy that disdains American exceptionalism, undermining the orthodoxy. This isolates and breaks down the interpretive communities the player inhabits to play the game. Author Keywords: Exceptionalism, Identity, Lability, Morality, Narrative, Video Games
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
Autobiographical Graphics
This thesis examines the work of queer women who author graphic autobiographical texts. Alison Bechdel, Sarah Leavitt, and Elizabeth Beier all employ the graphic medium to narrate their personal experiences with coming out, growing up, and navigating heteronormative spaces as lesbian or bisexual women. By studying the work of these three authors in tandem, this thesis functions to expand the archive of queer life by demonstrating that, even as queer life is made tangible in autobiographical writings, the ephemerality that marks the archives of queer life persists. Using feminist and queer theories, the study of abjection, archival studies, genre studies, and post-structuralist approaches to comics literatures, this thesis examines the body of the text, the body of the archive, and the bodies of the women that are contained within these structures to determine that queer women are creating a new tradition in graphic life writing. Author Keywords: archive, genre, graphic text, lesbian, queer, women
Battle of Maldon
The Battle of Maldon: A Medieval Screenplay History and Heroism in the Cinematic Adaptation of an Old English Poem The Battle of Maldon is an artistic representation of a historical event whose style lends itself to being adapted into a screenplay. This project examines how the poem presents a recent event in an epic heroic style, mixing history with legend, and how the heroism of the men in the poem is celebrated. These explorations lead to the creation of a screenplay which imitates the ways that the poet combines fact and fiction and situates the screenplay within the larger realm of medieval film. Author Keywords: Anglo-Saxon history, Byrhtnoth, film, heroism, Maldon, The Battle of Maldon
Composite Frankenstein
This thesis explores Frankenstein’s popular culture narrative, contrasting recent Frankenstein texts with the content of Mary Shelley’s classic novel and James Whale’s iconic films Frankenstein (1931) and The Bride of Frankenstein (1935). The research investigates how Frankenstein’s legacy of adaptations function intertextually to influence both the production and the consumption of Frankenstein texts, referring to this complicated and contradictory intertextual web as “the Composite Frankenstein.” This thesis present the Composite Frankenstein as a hermeneutic by which to view Frankenstein’s collaborative and cumulative identity in popular culture, drawing on the work of other scholars on adaptation and intertextuality. Sarah Milner investigates the context of the key Frankenstein texts, the novel and the 1931 film; this research’s goal is to destabilize the perception of authorship as an individual’s mode of production and to investigate the various social processes that influence text creation and consumption. Author Keywords: adaptation, authorship, Frankenstein, intertextuality, James Whale, Mary Shelley
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
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
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
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
Phantoms of Mars
My analysis of twentieth century Mars science and fiction outlines how the ongoing dialogic between Mars science and fiction publics influences the American frontier dialectic and how Mars serves as the arena where this debate comes to life. It examines connections between myth, science, and fiction by tracing the evolution of historical and literary representations of the American frontier and understandings of Mars spanning the twentieth century. To illustrate these findings, I investigate the fictional visions of the planet in the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Ray Bradbury, and Kim Stanley Robinson. Ultimately, Mars is revealed as a fictional frontier where a better way of living may be achievable by transforming the planet and ourselves. Finally, the planet’s physical site holds a haunting potential value that inspires further research and new narratives, which informs the future use of Mars in American culture. Author Keywords: Bradbury, Burroughs, Frontier, Mars, Myth, Robinson

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