Graduate Theses & Dissertations

Socioloegal Mediation of Rave Sound System Technologies
The central scholarly contribution of this dissertation develops through bringing the theories of Michel Foucault to bear in a sociolegal study of rave culture's criminalization by the United Kingdom's 1994 Criminal Justice and Public Order Act. My methodology develops rave as a cultural keyword. This keyword navigates through a quasi-materialist definition of rave as a cultural codification of sound system technologies. I theorize the way in which sociocultural discourse indexes aestheticized representations and the cultural mythologies that rave sound system's technical mediation generate. These ideas trace the facticity of the legal documentation of rave’s criminalization. I inform this sociolegal history by situating Foucault's work on the genealogy of liberalism as a practical toolkit for associating the legal discourse on rave culture with the genealogy of festival. This opens up a dialogue with the work of Mikhail Bakhtin's theorizing of the festival’s ambivalent political climate. Such ideas are useful in documenting rave as an enduring mimicry of the tension between State and civil society. Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s 1559 painting, “The Fight Between Carnival and Lent”, captures this tension beautifully. The aptness of reading rave's criminalization in relation to Bruegel’s portrayal of landscape is accomplished by returning to Foucault, who defines liberalism's political technologies in relation to Judaeo-Christian precedents. I explore how these political technologies, pastoral power in particular, are helpful in tracing rave's genealogical relation to the festival's sociotechnical cartography. Author Keywords: Bakhtin, Carnival, Christianity, Festival, Liberalism, Materialism
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
Uncovering the Barriers to Sustainable Music Consumption
The study sought to uncover the motivations influencing collectors when they buy recorded music. These motivations were analyzed through the lenses of environmental, economic, and cultural sustainability. Trent Radio Programmers were interviewed because of their frequent use of recorded music, sizable collections, and active participation in the local music scene. The study identified disconnects between artist, industry, and consumer motivations that hinder the achievement of a sustainable system. Environmental sustainability was not considered, while the artists’ economic and cultural sustainability were. This finding translates to the idea that in the music industry, to strengthen cultural sustainability, economics must be supported, which requires environmental impact. This research has the potential to catalyze critical conversations about digital media, artist welfare, and the state of the music industry. Author Keywords: College Radio, Cultural Sustainability, Economic Sustainability, Environmental Sustainability, Music Collecting
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
Thin Line Between Hell and Here
The end of the Cold War and the global triumph of neoliberalism were accompanied by the evolution of certain themes in dystopian fiction. According to some of its advocates, such as Francis Fukuyama, neoliberalism’s success signified the “end of history,” understood as ideological evolution, since the decline of communism left Western liberal democracies without any major opposition in terms of global governing and discursive practices. This thesis critically compares neoliberal rhetoric concerning invisible power, the end of history, technology, freedom of consumption and the commodification of human relationships with the ideologies represented in four neoliberal dystopian works of fiction, namely Black Mirror, Feed, The Circle, and The Fat Years. These examples create a “one-dimensional” dystopian subject who is rendered incapable of possessing the utopian imagination necessary to organize political resistance, precisely as a result of the governance and discourse of neoliberalism. Author Keywords: dystopia, dystopian fiction, dystopian subjectivity, neoliberalism, post cold war fiction, subjectivity
On Tilt
On Tilt: The Inheritance and Inheritors of Digital Games accepts and extends Eric Zimmerman’s contention that literacies currently being developed during video-game play will be more broadly applicable (outside games) in the next hundred years as Western work, education, entertainment, and citizenship spaces become ever more shaped like video games. To the end of better understanding both video games and the players and literacies contiguous with them, this dissertation interrogates comparisons between video games and... non-digital games, film and other fictional texts and worlds, blogs, casinos’ games of chance, and the strategies employed by face-to-face criminals, always asking about the roles and responsibilities the human participants in these systems take; that is, this dissertation investigates what video games inherit from other forms of art, including non-digital games, and what the gamers and audience of today and tomorrow inherit through their contact with video games. The dissertation examines in detail works by Jodi Dean, Bernard Suits, Bruce Sterling, T. L. Taylor, Walter Benjamin, Gavin de Becker, N. Katherine Hayles and Nicholas Gessler, and Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman, considering their work, the video game, and gamers, in terms of power gaming, genre, fiction and suspension of disbelief, audience, motivations, fungibility, the zombie vs. the robot, value vs. meaning, agency, slipstream, capitalism, and ontology. Ultimately, the dissertation suggests that there are two disparate strains of gamification building Zimmerman’s future, arguing first that the penetration of video games into culture is changing the way we behave and exist as audience and more generally, and, second, that what is at stake, in terms of the attitudes, labels, and gameplay that we accept in terms of games and gamification is significant to what it means to be human, especially within systems that are only partly human, in the next hundred years. Author Keywords: digital, gamification, genre, literacy, new media, videogame
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
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
On the Cyberflaneur
This thesis is a critical response to Evgeny Morozov’s article proclaiming the death of the cyberflâneur. Suspicious of the superficiality of his argument, I developed a practico-theoretical project to prove that the cyberflâneur is not dead but alive – or, if it were dead, to rescue it from its grave and bring it back to life. In the course of my response to Morozov, I develop a theoretical foundation that allows me to continue thinking about the concept and practice of the cyberflâneur in the context of the Internet. In doing so, I rely on Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari’s “Treatise on Nomadology: The War Machine” (2011), in combination with a history of the tradition of wandering. We are living in a postmodern-posthuman era driven by the chaotic and confusing forces that are manifested through the Internet. As such, it is no longer enough to be concerned with opening the space where we live, move and think; we cannot retreat to nature, we can’t escape society. However, I see potential in the Internet. The Internet, as a physical and material network, can be actualized as an apparatus of capture. It operates as a medium for accelerating or limiting speed, or as an apparatus for the control of the transmission of information. I develop the cyberflâneur as an aesthetic figure that reveals the Internet’s potential. If these revelations happen to be transmitted, then everyday life can again become an object of dispute, rather than unmeditated habituation. Author Keywords: Cyberflâneur, Everyday Life, Internet, Nomadology, Research-creation, Wandering
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
Learning From One Another
Biomaterial technology and utilizing bioproducts can contribute to Canada's economic growth while moving towards sustainable development. Canadian bioproducts are commonly developed within universities but Canada's record of transferring university technology to market has been less than optimal. In an attempt to offer new ideas for improvement, qualitative data analysis from comparing stakeholder interviews in Canada and Brazil regarding university technology transfer through biomaterial spin-off development identifies the enablers and barriers to success. This thesis offers modality changes that if implemented will contribute to increasing university spin-off development in Canada to achieve economic growth and sustainable development. These modality changes include: 1) Create research network alliances; 2) Incorporate university commercialization activities into faculty performance measurement; 3) Implement a general business class as a pre-requisite to all degree requirements; 4) Restructure funding programs from one time sums to phase based implementation; 5) Establish a pre-incubation program in addition to the traditional incubator. Author Keywords: biomaterials, Brazil, Canada, policy, university spin-off, university technology transfer
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

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