Graduate Theses & Dissertations


Reshaping the Terms of Debate
The Reagan era instigated a fundamentally conservative shift in the political, economic and discursive climate of America. As Ronald Reagan is a highly divisive symbolic figure in American politics, much of the historiography of his presidency has been characterized by polarized interpretations. Over the past decade there has been a noticeable shift towards more favourable and triumphal interpretations of the Reagan era. This thesis seeks to analyze the ideological shifts that have characterized the trajectory of historical writings on the Reagan era. Through employing a careful textual analysis of key works by Michael Schaller, Gil Troy and Sean Wilentz, amongst others, this study demonstrates how historiography serves us less as an objective means of understanding the past and more so as an expanding collective historical artifact that illustrates the changing currents of intellectual and political discourse. In doing so, the notion of scholarly objectivity itself is thrown into question. Author Keywords: Cold War, Conservatism, Historiography, Neoliberalism, Reagan Doctrine, Ronald Reagan
Why do landowners restore wetlands? A case study from east central Ontario
Wetlands were once widespread in southern Ontario, but many have been drained through land use changes. Using a case study of twelve landowners in the Kawartha region, I explored motivations for restoring wetlands. Psychological research suggests that people who are more connected to nature and attached to place are more likely to behave sustainably. Results showed that having land available and receiving funding were necessary preconditions. Connectedness to nature and place attachment were motivations, as were personal benefits and having a supportive social community. Challenges included: the Permit to Take Water, paperwork and bureaucracy, delays and timing, and economic restrictions. Positive outcomes were: increased property value and crop productivity; personal enjoyment of wetlands; and improved wildlife habitat and water quality. Negative outcomes were: `nuisance' wildlife, trespassing, and a lack or excess of water. This is a novel study exploring nature connectedness, place attachment and wetland restoration qualitatively in southern Ontario. Author Keywords: agriculture, connection to nature, motivation, southern Ontario, stewardship, wetland restoration
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
Commonality of Enemies
Carlism and anarchism were revolutionary social movements that acquired significant popular support during the most intensive period of modernization in Spain (mid 19th to mid 20th centuries). It was noted but not well explored by contemporaries and historians that these enemies were similar in their hostility towards modernization and in their intense idealism. This thesis compares the two movements in order to determine the nature of their commonality and what this suggests about ideological enemies. A range of sources were consulted, including scholarship on modern Spain, biographical information on individuals who converted from Carlism to anarchism and contemporary print media. It was concluded that they were produced by the same destabilizing processes of disentailment and industrialization, which drew the working classes towards proposals that would have otherwise seemed implausibly utopian. The thesis further suggests that they were uniquely idealistic, in that they put moral integrity before the success of their cause. Author Keywords: anarchism, Carlism, enemy other, modernization, Modern Spain, social movements
Songs We Share (and the Records We Steal)
This thesis explores the rhetoric of theft imposed on online music by comparing file sharing to shoplifting. Since the litigation between the music industry and Napster, file sharing has been perceived, both by the entertainment industry and by a music listening public, as a criminal act. However, file sharing has more in common with home taping and music archives than it does with music shoplifting. It differs from theft in terms of law, motivation and publicness. In reviewing three histories -- a history of petty theft, a history of policing online music, and a history of shoplifting narratives in popular music culture -- the implications for the cultural production of popular music and popular music identity become apparent. In the end, file sharing links itself more to parody and the concept of fairness than it does to youth rebellion and therefore is unsuitable for sustaining a traditional music industry and the values it has formed with its public. Author Keywords: copyright, cultural production, file sharing, mp3, popular music, shoplifting
An Emprirical Investigation into the Relationship Between Education and Health
Health literature has long noted a positive correlation between health and levels of education. Two competing theories have been advanced to explain this phenomenon: (1) education "causes" health by allowing individuals to process complex information and act on it; and, (2) education and health are merely correlated through some third underlying characteristic. Determining which of these two theories is correct is of importance to public policy. But that task is empirically difficult because, from the standard, static perspective, the theories are observationally equivalent. We exploit a way in which the two theories have different implications regarding the sort of behaviour we should observe over time. We use smoking as a measure of health behaviour and find that smoking rates between "high" and "low" educated individuals expand when information is hard to process, and then contract as it becomes more easily processable. This approach is then repeated using physical activity as a measure of health-related behaviour to address limitations of the smoking model. Our novel approach to estimating the differences in the behavioural responses to changes in the processability of health-related information, across education groups, provides strong evidence in support of the view that education and health are causally linked. Author Keywords: applied statistics, education, health economics, public health, public policy, smoking
Dimensions of socio-cultural sustainability
Social and cultural sustainability is increasingly discussed in a variety of disciplines and in the growing body of sustainability literature. However there is a lack of clarity in how the concept is defined and poor understanding as to how it relates to other aspects of sustainability. To address this issue, this research explored current definitions and representations of socio-cultural sustainability in the literature and community perspectives on this topic through a case study in Hopedale, Nunatsiavut, Labrador. This research identifies gaps in current understandings of this concept, as well as differences between community and academic perspectives. Case study results emphasized the importance of strong social relationships, cultural identity, and connection to place as central elements of socio-cultural sustainability in a northern, Indigenous context. These findings are valuable for policy and decision makers, regarding approaches to community planning and supporting the social and cultural aspects of sustainability. Author Keywords: cultural sustainability, Hopedale, Inuit, Nunatsiavut, social sustainability, socio-cultural sustainability
Unexpected Journeys
The last two decades have seen thousands of Canadian university graduates go to teach English in places such as China, South Korea, and Japan. In this thesis, drawing on Clandinin and Connelly's concept of narrative inquiry, I situate the stories I heard about the experiences of 15 teachers who taught English as a Second Language in South Korea between 2003 and 2012. While my interviewees expressed intrinsically personal reasons for taking on such temporary professional employment, they also acknowledged that they felt somewhat forced to do so by an increasingly bleak job market at home. I position their decisions in the neoliberal employment context in Canada over the past two decades, highlighting the personal and socioeconomic factors that influenced them to take up such opportunities. Additionally, I examine how these experiences shifted their views of Canada and what it meant to be Canadian, both while they were away and upon their return home by revealing the contradictions between expectation and the lived realities of young Canadians. These contradictions unmask the deceptive nature of dominant narratives in Canadian society. Author Keywords: Canadian Identity, Canadian Job Market, Narrative, Neoliberalism, Teaching Abroad
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
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
(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
American Acropolis, American Ruins
Since 1979, photographer and sociologist Camilo José Vergara has taken repeat photographs of American cities in decline, focusing on evolving landscapes of postindustrial decay. Vergara's images subscribe to an aesthetic of ruin while providing a record of America's crumbling ghettos rooted in social documentary concerns. Vergara's work diverges from the ahistorical tendencies of contemporary ruin porn photography: by challenging the photograph's temporal stasis Vergara bears witness to the ongoing reality of disenfranchisement, assembling an archive that takes up the Benjaminian task of doing history in images. Vergara's photographs challenge standard photojournalistic portrayals of violence, particularly the ways in which `violent' African American and Hispanic inner city populations have been erroneously cast as the cause of their own economic misfortune. The Invincible Cities website assists Vergara in drawing attention to forgotten places but also complicates his mandate to engage outside viewers by distancing them from the real-­world environments his photographs portray. Author Keywords: Camilo José Vergara, imagistic history, postindustrial decline, repeat photography, ruin porn, Walter Benjamin


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Format: 2023/12/04