Graduate Theses & Dissertations


This study demonstrates that the New Brunswick government rationalized the 2011 elimination of the New Brunswick Advisory Council on the Status of Women (NBACSW) by discursively framing it as a duplication of services and as a non-essential service. The study relies on interviews with women who had been involved with the NBACSW, as well as literature about the use of neoliberal and anti-feminist discourses at the national level. I argue that the two rationalizations offered by the New Brunswick government rely on similar neoliberal and anti-feminist discourses to those used at the national level to eliminate women's institutional machinery and thus diminish women's capacities for advocacy and political representation. I argue that this discursive move positioned the province's largest women's advocacy group as an impediment to the common good of the province and as a threat to "Ordinary New Brunswickers," signalling a negative step for women in the province. Author Keywords: Anti-feminist backlash, Canadian Feminism, Canadian Women's Movements, Discourse Analysis, Neoliberalism, New Brunswick
(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
Agony of Writing Or Ambivalent Reversal In Baudrillard's Stylistic Metamorphoses
Following Baudrillard's conceptual and stylistic shift of the mid-70s, this thesis argues that said shift is accounted for by understanding the ontological quandary Baudrillard found himself in after developing a theoretical agonism impossible to divorce from the practice of writing. By tracing the conceptual metamorphoses of key terms including semiotic ambivalence, symbolic exchange and theoretical writing itself as a total agonistic process, this thesis demonstrates that theory is not reducible to epistemic production but is rather the contentious site of challenge and aesthetic (dis)appearance. Each chapter examines a conceptual tension revealing insoluble, conflicting social forms. These forms reveal the reversibility Baudrillard finds at work in all social phenomena. These culminate in a chapter that tackles Baudrillard's writing itself as a social form that endeavours to embody the agonistic theoretical concept as a process rather than remaining a representation, or commentary on, ambivalent social conflict. Author Keywords: agonist, ambivalence, Baudrillard, reversibility, style, writing
This project is a Heideggerian critique of the subject/object metaphysic presupposed in the Representationalist claim that the world is made intelligible solely in virtue of internal states that bear representations. It is comprised of two sections. The first is a critique of the ontological primacy of representational-intentionality/action in which I argue that where Brentano, Husserl, and Searle have erred is not in their model of intentionality/action, but in assigning a priori status to a derivative mode of being. The second is a critique of representation-driven artificial intelligence whereby I argue that belief-fixation and action selection that is context-dependent produces an insurmountable problem that prevents the parsing of context-specifying relevance; the corollary being that the world is not disclosed despite that system having a structurally isomorphic internal constitution to that which is purported by the Representationalist to obtain in human beings. With the issue thus framed, I conclude by arguing that this problem is dissolved within a Heideggerian phenomenological framework. Author Keywords: Artificial Intelligence, Heidegger, Phenomenology, Representationalism, Skillful Coping, The Frame Problem
Becoming Hybrid
Institutional military strategists are developing theories of asymmetric and unconventional warfare that complicate the notion of strategic agency, the idea that military action emanates from a coherent agential source or subjectivity. This thesis attempts to push the conceptual trajectories of the theories of Hybrid War, Unrestricted War and Onto-power towards an even more radical complication of the notion of strategy - towards an ecological understanding of war as an unwinnable, self-perpetuating process. Recent geopolitical events are meticulously examined, as are institutional doctrinal and theoretical frameworks that stop just short of imploding the conventional agential notion of strategy. Insights from the work of Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, as well as Brian Massumi, particularly the concepts of multiplicity, assemblage, and ontopower, are employed in the thesis, which is itself a “heterogeneous assemblage” of elements ranging from Israeli war theory and Chinese military doctrine to etymology and post-structuralist philosophy. Author Keywords: Agency, Assemblage, Deleuze, Hybrid warfare, Multiplicity, Strategy
Becoming and Destiny in Deleuze and Guattari
This thesis is an investigation of the theme of freedom in the work of Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari. Chapter One investigates Deleuze and Guattari’s concept of becoming as it is articulated in their book A Thousand Plateaus, and seeks to resolve a problem related to their shifting descriptions of the role of agency in the process of becoming, at times described as voluntary, and at other times described as involuntary. We conclude that chapter with a defense of the claim that their shifting descriptions are unproblematic and are, in fact, attempts to illustrate the paradoxical experience of becoming. Chapter Two investigates Deleuze’s earlier text, The Logic of Sense, and attempts to make sense of his use of the term destiny. Our conclusion in that chapter is that destiny is neither necessity, pure self-authorship, nor passive resignation, but rather consists of a mixture of activity and passivity, willfulness and chance. Author Keywords: Agency, Becoming, Counter-actualization, Deleuze and Guattari, Destiny, Freedom
Control, Surveillance and Subjective Commodification on Facebook
This thesis is a theoretical study of Facebook's surveillance project. It begins by taking one of the predominant organizational forms of modern surveillance, Foucaultian panopticism, and examining the ways in which its form, along with Foucault's broader model of the disciplinary society, is realized, remixed and extended by Facebook's virtual form. Following this evaluation, the remainder of the thesis proposes a model to augment this panoptical analysis. The first part of this model uses Deleuze and Guattari's philosophy of the rhizome to explain the structural design and advantages of Facebook's network, while the second part deploys Zygmunt Bauman and David Lyon's concept of "liquid surveillance" as a means to explain how Facebook fosters seductive conditions of self-surveillance. The thesis concludes that older forms of control, new forms of seduction and the utility of advanced technologies are responsible in tandem for the undeniably widespread success of Facebook's surveillance project. Author Keywords: Bauman, Deleuze, Facebook, Foucault, post-panopticism, surveillance
Critical Topographies of two films
The following thesis is a work in Critical Topography that choses as its site of study two documentary films. The films being studied are El Sol del Membrillo by Victor Erice and Rivers and Tides by Thomas Riedelsheimer. My approach to critical topography in the thesis is twofold: first, I have traced the topical motifs that have appeared to me as I looked at the two films; second, I have translated the films into writing –with the purpose of creating a sourcebook for my analysis- thus bounding the visual content of the films into the delineated space of the written word. I have sought in my analysis to make visible the numerous conceptual, aesthetic, and philosophical notions that are repeated in each film. These notions include materiality, formal operations, temporality, memory, and failure. All of which are ideas that find expression - despite their significant differences - in both documentary films. Author Keywords: Art, Critical Topography, Film Studies, Land Art, Painting, Time
Denizens of Virtual Worlds
This thesis studies a subset of players of video games called “power-gamers” who play games in a way that mirrors labour as opposed to leisure. Through ethnographic fieldwork and exploration this thesis examines what constitutes “power-gaming” and seeks to unpack the differences between skill, fun, and labour. Chapter One analyzes how ethnographic fieldwork is performed in virtual worlds, and the necessary frameworks inherent to this. Chapter Two explores facets of technical hobbies, masculinity, skill, and how they relate to power-gaming. Chapter Three explores how different cultures globally choose to play-games, and the forms of sociability involved in this play. Chapter Four examines reality in relation to virtual worlds, and how players in virtual worlds explore and unpack their surroundings, which mirrors many scientific practices in the real world. Chapter Five explores narrative structure in games, and their relation to power-gaming practices. Chapter Six concludes with a discussion of power-gamers as a neo-liberal workforce. Author Keywords: game design, neo-liberalism, playbour, power-gamer, sociability, virtual-ethnography
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
Ludic Fictions, Lucid Games
This thesis elucidates the role of play and games—the ludic—in Julio Cortázar’s novel Hopscotch (1966; translation of Rayuela, 1963) through a range of resonant theories. Literary gameplay dominates the formal, linguistic, affective, reflexive, and thematic dimensions of Hopscotch, which are analyzed through concepts borrowed from play theorist Roger Caillois, among others, and literary theorists including Mikhail Bakhtin and Wolfgang Iser, whose ludic theories of fiction begin to map the field of ludic fiction. The analysis positions Hopscotch as an exemplar of the ludic counter-tradition within the novel, a perennial tendency from Don Quixote to postmodernism and beyond. Hopscotch, like other ludic fictions, enacts a complex convergence of the ludic and the lucid. It provokes active reading over passive consumption, diminishes the hegemonic function of serious mimesis to elevate other forms of gameplay, notably chance, competition, vertigo, and enigma, to dominant positions, and ultimately demonstrates a profound affinity between play and critical consciousness. Author Keywords: Bakhtin, Cortazar, Iser, Ludic, Novel, Play
Materiality and Ontology of Digital Subjectivity
New conditions of materiality are emerging from fundamental changes in our ontological order. Digital subjectivity represents an emergent mode of subjectivity that is the effect of a more profound ontological drift that has taken place, and this bears significant repercussions for the practice and understanding of the political. This thesis pivots around mathematician Grigori ‘Grisha’ Perelman, most famous for his refusal to accept numerous prestigious prizes resulting from his proof of the Poincaré conjecture. The thesis shows the Perelman affair to be a fascinating instance of the rise of digital subjectivity as it strives to actualize a new hegemonic order. By tracing first the production of aesthetic works that represent Grigori Perelman in legacy media, the thesis demonstrates that there is a cultural imperative to represent Perelman as an abject figure. Additionally, his peculiar abjection is seen to arise from a challenge to the order of materiality defended by those with a vested interest in maintaining the stability of a hegemony identified with the normative regulatory power of the heteronormative matrix sustaining social relations in late capitalism. The first chapter analyses the formal aesthetics of legacy media representations of Perelman. The second chapter focuses on new media aesthetic productions pertaining to Perelman and the political ontology of digital media. The third chapter interrogates the political ontology of the materials utilized in Perelman’s work and seeks to clarify the status of the conditions of the challenge of a digital hegemony. Author Keywords: abjection, archive, autistic reason, digital subjectivity, Grigori Perelman, ontological drift


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