Graduate Theses & Dissertations

Nineteenth-Century Aesthetics of Murder
This dissertation examines how sex crime and serial killing became a legitimate subject of aesthetic representation and mass consumption in the nineteenth century. It also probes into the ethical implications of deriving pleasure from consuming such graphic representations of violence. Taking off from Jack the Ripper and the iconic Whitechapel murders of 1888, it argues that a new cultural paradigm – the aesthetics of murder – was invented in England and France. To study the ‘aesthetics of murder’ as countless influential critics have done is not to question whether an act of murder itself possesses beautiful or sublime qualities. Rather, it is to determine precisely how a topic as evil and abject as murder is made beautiful in a work of art. It also questions what is at stake ethically for the reader or spectator who bears witness to such incommensurable violence. In three chapters, this dissertation delves into three important tropes – the murderer, corpse, and witness – through which this aesthetics of murder is analyzed. By examining a wide intersection of visual, literary, and cultural texts from the English and French tradition, it ultimately seeks to effect a rapprochement between nineteenth-century ethics and aesthetics. The primary artists and writers under investigation are Charles Baudelaire, Thomas De Quincey, Oscar Wilde, and Walter Sickert. In bringing together their distinctive styles and aesthetic philosophies, the dissertation opts for an interdisciplinary and comparative approach. It also aims to absolve these writers and artists from a longstanding charge of immorality and degeneracy, by firmly maintaining that the aesthetics of murder does not necessarily glorify or justify the act of murder. The third chapter on the ‘witness’ in fact, elucidates how writers like De Quincey and Wilde transferred the ethical imperative from the writer to the reader. The reader is appointed in the role of a murder witness who accidentally discovered the corpse on the crime scene. As a traumatized subject, the reader thus develops an ethical obligation for justice and censorship. Author Keywords: Censorship, Jack the Ripper, Murder, Trauma, Victorian, Wilde
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
Representations of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women in Canadian Art
This thesis focuses specifically on artistic projects that address violence against indigenous women and uses an interdisciplinary approach to examine their meaning and reception. I argue that the mainstream media has negatively stereotyped missing and murdered indigenous women and that art projects have the ability to reframe their lives to the viewing public. I focus on five case studies of works, including Vigil (2002) by Rebecca Belmore, REDress (2011) by Jamie Black, The Forgotten (2011) by Pamela Masik, Walking With Our Sisters (2013) by Christi Belcourt and Shades of Our Sisters (2017), created by Ryerson University students and produced by Maggie Cywink, Alex Cywink and Joyce Carpenter. Art has the capacity to encourage activism, raise awareness and promote reconciliation between indigenous and non-indigenous people. Comparisons can be drawn between how the case studies of these art works have framed the lives of missing and murdered women and the dominant media images that have prevailed in Canadian society. Author Keywords: activism, art, Canada, indigenous, missing and murdered indigenous women, symbolism
Stop Making Sense
ABSTRACT There is a growing number of juvenile novels and picture books that mean to educate the reader about synaesthesia. The synaesthete in these texts for young readers desires to be a social agent, yet sh/e also considers synaesthesia to be a healing power and a deeply personal psychedelic form of escapism; I argue that the synaesthete in these texts `uses' their synaesthesia to dissipate emotional trauma caused by pubescent uncertainty and social isolation. In this thesis, I propose that YA and Children's texts that feature synaesthesia generally reinforce the discursive constraints of normative perception, and they also promulgate the assumption that synaesthesia is an extraordinary form of cognition instead of a legitimate subject position. Author Keywords: Authenticity, Liminality, Repesentation, Synaesthesia, Synesthesia, Zizek
Punk as Public, Punks as Texts
This thesis is an attempt to explore the role that musical texts played in the development of a public by writing a work of fiction and then applying to it a critical exegesis. Part One, the literary text Some Of This Is True, (re-)creates and remembers punk in its iteration in Regina, Saskatchewan, in the late 1970s. Part two, the critical exegesis, examines how the theories of public formation outlined in Michael Warner's Publics and Counterpublics can partially explain the creation and behaviour of publics, but not entirely. Similarly Mikhail Bahktin's theory of carnival helps explain punk, but not entirely. Some gaps can be filled partly with theory borrowed from art history that reveals useful links between punk and Continental art movements; Michel Foucault's concept of heterotopia fills other gaps. Literature fills the rest. Author Keywords: Creative Writing, Heterotopia, Michael Warner, Michel Foucault, Mikhail Bakhtin, Punk & Punks
Talking it out
The literature to date that investigates the development of social perspective taking in children primarily focuses on preschool aged children. These studies provide evidence that implicates language as being crucial for social perspective taking in young children but less is known about the importance of language to social perspective taking during middle childhood and early adolescence. The current study uses Selman's theory of socio-cognitive development to investigate the maturation of social perspective taking and the importance of language to social problem solving in 8 year olds (n = 111) and 12 year olds (n = 112). Analysis of variance and scalogram analysis shows a developmental progression of social perspective taking across the social problem solving process. Children may be able to demonstrate reciprocal perspective taking when generating strategies before they are able to demonstrate reciprocal perspective taking for other steps of social problem solving. Flexibility in interpersonal orientation is shown to be a predictor of social problem solving ability. Correlations and multiple regression analysis demonstrate that language is important to overall social problem solving but that the role of semantic and syntactic language may differ at age 8 compared to age 12. Author Keywords: interpersonal orientation, language, Selman, social cognition, social perspective taking, social problem solving
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

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