Graduate Theses & Dissertations

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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
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
Motivating Policy Responses to Climate Change
This research investigates urban climate governance through a case study of climate change adaptation policy making in the Canadian municipality of Vancouver, British Columbia (BC). It investigates the context in which the City of Vancouver was motivated to develop its climate change adaptation strategy (CCAS) by exploring the motivating factors and drivers behind the formulation of this plan. The research approach involved content analysis of policy documents underlying the CCAS as well as interviews with key politicians and policy makers familiar with the strategy. I conceptualize the development of the CCAS using Kingdon's Multiple Streams Framework, leading me to conclude that the convergence of three streams, namely: 1) knowledge of local climate change impacts and their cost to city assets, 2) political leadership and 3) green policy coordination in the City of Vancouver, created an opportunity that was seized upon by policy champions to address adaptation. Author Keywords: adapting cities to climate change, climate change adaptation policy, climate change adaptation policy formulation, local climate governance, municipal adaptation plan, urban climate governance
Scientificity of Psychology and the Categorical Paradigm of Mental Illness
There is little research devoted to exploring psychology's historical and discursive development. Psychological knowledge is generally presented as the contributions of individuals, but without context. The social, political, and economic aspects of psychology's development are scarcely discussed, including how the discipline came to be considered a science. This thesis project explored the history of the development of psychology. Specifically, psychology's claim to scientificity via the appropriation of the medical model of disease, and accordingly, the instantiation of the categorical paradigm of mental illness were examined. The discontinuous events that shaped psychology and its hallmark of scientificity were explored, including extensive concept transformations, political agendas, and marketing strategies. These practices were then explored in a practical way using the conception of clinical depression and the role of antidepressants as the first-line treatment for depression in the USA. This exploration revealed psychology's socio-historical contingencies and its agenda of prediction and control. Author Keywords: Categorical Paradigm, Concept Transformations, Historicity, Knowledge Products, Psychology, Scientificity
All Things Fusible
This dissertation presents the work of the American science fiction writer Neal Stephenson as a case study of mediations between literature and science by mobilizing its resonances with contemporary science studies and media theory. Tracing the historical and thematic trajectory of his consecutively published novels Snow Crash (1992), The Diamond Age; or, A Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer (1995), Cryptonomicon (1999), Quicksilver: The Baroque Cycle I (2003), The Confusion: The Baroque Cycle II (2004), and The System of the World: The Baroque Cycle III (2004), it approaches Stephenson’s fiction as an archaeology of the deep history of science that leads from late twentieth-century cyberculture, to world-war-two cryptography, and the seventeenth-century rise of the Royal Society. Refracted through a parallel reading of Stephenson’s novels and the theoretical work of Michel Serres, Bruno Latour, Friedrich A. Kittler, Isabelle Stengers, Donna Haraway, and others, this dissertation offers a literary discussion of the relations among cybernetics, complexity theory, information theory, systems theory, Leibnizian metaphysics, and Newtonian alchemy. Recognizing these hybrid fields as central to contemporary dialogues between the natural sciences and the humanities, Stephenson’s work is shown to exhibit a consistent engagement with the feedback loops among physical, artistic, narratological, and epistemological processes of innovation and emergence. Through his portrayal of hackers, mathematicians, natural philosophers, alchemists, vagabonds, and couriers as permutations of trickster figures, this dissertation advances a generalized notion of boundary transgressions and media infrastructures to illustrate how newness emerges by way of the turbulent con-fusion of disciplines, genres, knowledge systems, historical linearities, and physical environments. Uninterested in rigid genre boundaries, Stephenson’s novels are explored through the links among artistic modes that range from cyberpunk, to hard science fiction, historiographic metafiction, the carnivalesque, and the baroque. In a metabolization of the work performed by science studies, Stephenson’s fiction foregrounds that scientific practice is always intimately entangled in narrative, politics, metaphor, myth, and the circulation of a multiplicity of human and nonhuman agents. As the first sustained analysis of this segment of Stephenson’s work, this dissertation offers a contribution to both science fiction studies and the wider field of literature and science. Author Keywords: Complexity Theory, Cyberpunk, Michel Serres, Neal Stephenson, Science Fiction, Science Studies
Visions of the Sedantary “I”/eye
This thesis explores the seemingly innocuous call to “grow up,” which is never simply a biological imperative. It is also a moral one. Demanding that one should “grow up” is not demanding that one grow older, but that one transform into a specific kind of subject – the “grown up.” In the reading advanced here, The Little Prince thermalizes the suppleness of the figure of the grown up through a series of fantastic encounters. In particular, perception and corporeality will be taken up as the two interlocking ways we are often pushed towards an understanding of adulthood that is coextensive with an Enlightenment conception of subjectivity. Perception, having emerged from a sedimented economy of looking, produces norms and practices of attentiveness where much of our perceptual field is consigned to infrastructural obliviousness. This intensification of attention, in turn, coincides with a broader project of corporeal discipline that began with the body’s sedation through the chair. The chair is itself an element of the disciplinary machine that regulates attention, where the pedagogical injunction to “pay attention” is often accompanied by the postural injunction to “settle down” and “sit up straight.” The chair, then, not only individuates and renders those individuated bodies docile, but also readies them for an entry into the world of grown-ups. Author Keywords: Attention, Enlightenment, Maturation, Saint-Exupery, Sedantariness, Subjectivation
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
Transcendental Turn
This dissertation traces the concept of transcendentalism from Kant's Critique of Pure Reason (1781) to Michel Foucault's historical a priori and Pierre Bourdieu's field and habitus, with implicit reference to Deleuze's `transcendental empiricism,' and the influence this trajectory has had on contemporary theory and culture. This general conceptual framework is used as the basis for a critical analysis of a series of examples taken from popular culture to highlight their transcendental conditions of possibility and the influence this conceptual paradigm has had on today's theory. The examples include the NFL `concussion crisis,' South Park's problematization of the discourse surrounding it, as well as the literature of Charles Bukowski, as an exemplification of an immanent writer-written situation. It is further suggested that, not only is transcendentalism an epistemological framework for thought, but it also doubles as an ontological principle for the emergence of a constitutively incomplete and unfinished reality. Author Keywords: Bukowski, Concussion, Foucault, Kant, South Park, transcendental
Art of the Sustainable Street
ABSTRACT The Art of the Sustainable Street Miriam L. R. Mutton The street influences our sense of community every day. It is argued that getting the street right communicates a collective vision for action leading to sustainable community. This investigation continues conversations for community repair and resilient change, especially for small town Ontario. The researcher is informed by ways of seeing inspired by Walter Benjamin’s literary montage, The Arcades Project. By method of collecting and connecting information from literature sources spanning several decades and recent interviews, this thesis demonstrates in narrative form the value to community of everyday street details of human scale. Recurrent themes are adopted as technique in validation. Findings are presented from various perspectives including those of the design professional and the politician. The sustainable street enables communication. Research outcomes indicate knowledge transferred through the art of storytelling supports place-making and connection to community. Fragments of information connect into themes defining safe streets which foster trust among strangers, and facilitate citizenship and good governance. Key words: sustainable community, citizenship, safe streets, Benjamin, governance Author Keywords: Benjamin, citizenship, governance, safe streets, sustainable community
While the Lonely Mingle with Circumstance
Emmanuel Levinas’ philosophy focuses on the idea that no human subject exists outside of their relationship to other people. Each of us holds a profound degree of responsibility to and for all others. Since responsibility is fundamental to human (co)existence, it does not impede on freedom but proves that the sovereign individual is a dangerous myth: any philosophical, political or economic system which places us in antagonism is inherently violent and arguably fallacious. Many instances of injustice and violence can be attributed to advances in technological rationality and other forces of modern egoism with historical roots. By forwarding a somewhat politicized interpretation of Totality and Infinity and drawing on Jacques Derrida’s landmark reading of Levinas, this thesis explores the implications of Levinas’ thought for modern politics and the potential of Levinasian ethics as a remedy for both the alienation of the modern subject and the continued justification of oppression. Author Keywords: Ethics, Levinas, Other, Relation, Responsibility, Subjectivity
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
THE ETHICS OF BEING-WITH
ABSTRACT The Ethics of Being-With: Exploring Ethics in Heidegger's Being and Time Adam Rejak Martin Heidegger is perhaps best known for his work Being and Time, in which he tries to re-discover what he deems to be a forgotten question; the meaning of being. However, what many have missed in this work is the ethical potential it presents, particularly through his notion of Mitsein. This thesis will discuss how the history of philosophy has misunderstood the question of intersubjectivity. Throughout the history of philosophy, there has been a tendency to focus on detachment of the subject, rather than an engaged existence. Heidegger overcomes this by introducing the concept of Mitsein and allowing us to think of being-with one another as something which is integral to our very being, rather than something which comes to us through detached reflection. The consequences of this re-interpretation are significant for ethics because our starting point is always-already with others, rather than isolated and alone. Author Keywords: Being-with, Ethics, Heidegger, Intersubjectivity, Mitsein

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