Graduate Theses & Dissertations

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
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
(un)Natural Provocation
My thesis examines anthropomorphism and many avenues in which humans represent nonhumans to evaluate their own lives. Using Isabella Rossellini's Green Porno webseries, a collection of two-minute films starring Rossellini as a multitude of nonhumans with costumes transforming her into nonhuman, I posit that a new form of anthropomorphism -- one that values the nonhuman in all his or her nonhumanity -- is emerging in contemporary media. Rossellini describes the mating, seduction, and maternal instincts of these nonhumans, regularly drawing parallels between nonhuman and human behavior and uncovering crucial intersections in femininity, masculinity, queer theory, and abjection. In more recent films, I see Rossellini performing certain nonhumans to critique particular characteristics of Western human society and incredulously addressing the human viewer as a member of a species that might not be as high in the caste system of living beings as he or she is led to believe. In turning this sense of grotesque Otherness onto the human, I identify Rossellini as engaging in counterabjection, or the reversal of extreme degradation often projected upon nonhuman bodies by humans. Author Keywords: abjection, animal studies, nonhuman, queer studies
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
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

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