Graduate Theses & Dissertations

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Agriculture as Niche Construction
The Neolithic Period (c. 6200 – 4900 BC) in the Struma River Valley led to numerous episodes of cultural diversification. When compared with the neighbouring regions, the ecological characteristics of the Struma River Valley are particularly heterogeneous and the Neolithic populations must have adapted to this distinctive and localized ecological setting. It then becomes reasonable to ask if the evolution of cultural variability in the Struma River Valley was at least partially driven by the ecological setting and differentiation in the evolution of the early agricultural niche. In this thesis, I apply an approach based on niche construction theory and Maxent species distribution modeling in order to characterize the relationship between culture and ecology during each stage of the Neolithic Period and to assess diachronic change. An interpretation of the results demonstrates that the continuous reconstruction of the early agricultural niche allowed for settlement expansion into new eco-cultural niches presenting different natural selection pressures and that cultural change followed. I also found that cultural and historical contingencies played an equally important role on the evolution of populations and that ecological factors alone cannot account for the numerous episodes of cultural diversification that occurred throughout the region. Author Keywords: Agriculture, Bulgaria, Eco-cultural Niche Modeling, Greece, Neolithic, Niche Construction
Agro-Ecological Zoning (AEZ) of Southern Ontario and the Projected Shifts Caused by Climate Change in the Long-term Future
This thesis proposes an agro-ecological zoning (AEZ) methodology of southern Ontario for the characterization and mapping of agro-ecological zones during the historical term (1981-2010), and their shifts into the long-term (2041-2070) projected climate period. Agro-ecological zones are homogenous areas with a unique combination of climate, soil, and landscape features that are important for crop growth. Future climate variables were derived from Earth System Models (EMSs) using a high emission climate forcing scenario from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 5th Assessment Report. The spatiotemporal shifts in agro-ecological zones with projected climate change are analyzed using the changes to the length of growing period (LGP) and crop heat units (CHU), and their manifestation in agro-climatic zones (ACZ). There are significant increases to the LGP and CHU into the long-term future. Two historical ACZs exist in the long-term future, and have decreased in area and shifted northward from their historical locations. Author Keywords: Agro-climatic Zones, Agro-ecological Zones, Agro-ecological Zoning, Climate Change, Crop Heat Units, Length of Growing Period
Alien Imaginaries
This dissertation offers a cultural analysis of UFOs and extraterrestrials in the United States. In it I look at what I call real aliens — extraterrestrials believed to be real and interacting with humans on Earth. Beliefs in real aliens are often denigrated and dismissed in official discourse, yet they continue to not only persist, but thrive, in American society. Hence, this dissertation asks: Why do so many people believe that extraterrestrials are visiting our planet? Part One begins by tracing the invasion of real aliens in the United States using Orson Welles’s 1938 radio broadcast “The War of the Worlds” as a starting point. Here, I look at how and why the broadcast registered with listeners’ anxieties and created a fantastic and uncanny effect that made it possible for some to conceive of aliens invading the United States. In Part Two, I trace the rise of ufology, which involves the study of extraterrestrials currently interacting with humans on Earth, and I consider how the social and political climate of the Cold War, as well as the cultural environment of postmodernity, provided the necessary conditions for stories about aliens to be made believable. Part Three explores the case study of the Roswell Incident, a conspiracy theory about the origins of an alleged flying saucer crash and government cover-up. I look at the reasons for why many individuals have come to believe in this conspiracy theory and I reflect on the tensions between “official” and “unofficial” discourses surrounding this case. I also consider how and why Roswell has become such an important site for ufology, and I examine the performances given by ufologists at the annual Roswell International UFO Festival to appreciate how ufologists offers seductive explanations of why things are the way they are; for many, their stories offer a better version of events than the purely rational and positivist explanations offered by official sources, especially since they tap into the disillusionment and mistrust that many Americans feel about contemporary politics. Author Keywords: aliens/extraterrestrials, America, conspiracy, official and unofficial, storytelling, ufology
All I've Found is Pain and Terror
This thesis is concerned with how specific aesthetic elements function in various contemporary texts to distort, obscure, or illuminate the immoral actions and behaviours being represented. This thesis applies the moral status philosophy of Mary Anne Warren, along with the moral philosophy of Emmanuel Lévinas and Zygmunt Bauman. Close reading and critical analysis are supported by Michele Aaron’s theory of spectatorship. The sublime is explored in Dexter (2006) and Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (1986), the uncanny in Battlestar Galactica (2003) and Westworld (2016), and the abject in The Walking Dead (2003) and World War Z (2006). The intentions of this project are to conduct a formal examination of the relationship between audience and text as it is filtered through aesthetic representation and moral frameworks. This thesis argues that aesthetic effects must be understood in connection to morality for active consumers to engage with these texts as sites for ethical consideration. Author Keywords: aesthetic theory, moral status philosophy, Popular fiction, spectatorship, The Walking Dead, Westworld
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
Alone in Power
The thesis uses three case studies of President Nixon’s foreign policy in South-east Asia to analyze presidential domestic-making. The theoretical concept of personality politics is used to analyze the Nixon administration and foreign policy. Nixon’s secretive nature combined with his mistrust of the press and bureaucracy to create an office structure that restricted the involvement and notification of others of his foreign policy. This thesis also takes into account the domestic climate that Nixon was operating within, including significant antiwar opposition, an adversarial media, and an ideologically opposed bureaucracy. Nixon’s foreign policy was ultimately the result of a perfect storm of factors. The president’s natural penchant for secrecy, along with his mistrust of the press and bureaucracy, combined with the American political environment that was in many instances ideologically set against him, also helped shape his foreign policy. Author Keywords: American Presidency, China, National Security Council, Richard Nixon, US Foreign Policy, 1969-1973, Vietnam War
Along the Path
This thesis is written in three parts and supported throughout by feminist critical pedagogical analysis and a narrative methodological approach. In Part I I lay a theoretical groundwork that weaves the Freirean roots of critical pedagogy with its more contemporary theories in application to K-12 schooling, and with feminist thinking, most notably Sara Ahmed whose work has moved me both as a human and a teacher. In Part II, I take a deep dive into autoethnography (Bochner, (2017), Ellis, 1999). In Part III, I offer a memoir of my experience as a classroom teacher over a nearly 20 year period. The story of my work as an activist elementary school teacher oscillates between phases of hope and despair around the potential for forwarding a broad range of social and ecological justice ends through teaching and learning in the Ontario public school system. Finally, in Part IV, I return to conceptual analysis to reflect on the key themes of my memoir including teacher burnout, teacher efficacy, teacher resilience, and the ways in which these interact with teacher learning communities, school cultures and the relationships that underpin the work of teachers and educators. Author Keywords: Activist, Autoethnography, Critical Pedagogy, Resilience, Social-Change, Teaching
Alpha and Omega
Game texts present unique and dynamic opportunities for lability: how readers can make choices while reading that alter the narrative's nature or outcome. Labile decisions are neither simply correct nor incorrect--the reader renders judgement to produce a desired outcome. When encountering labile challenges, players employ an interpretive strategy to resolve them. Many game texts tell stories. Games anticipate readers' interpretive strategies to orchestrate a desired result in labile narratives and manipulate players into inhabiting an identity in a variety of different ways. This thesis examines how Fallout 3 does so with periodically opposable intentions, mainly applying an inconsistent moral orthodoxy via the player character's father, but occasionally exhibiting the series' nihilistic philosophy that disdains American exceptionalism, undermining the orthodoxy. This isolates and breaks down the interpretive communities the player inhabits to play the game. Author Keywords: Exceptionalism, Identity, Lability, Morality, Narrative, Video Games
Altered Hippocampal Regulation of Immediate Early Genes after Pentylenetetrazol-Induced Seizures
Seizures induce long-term changes in gene expression in the hippocampus. Experimental evidence has demonstrated a significant effect of epileptic activity on the activity of neurons that participate in complex cognitive and behavioural processes. The present series of experiments involving kindling with subconvulsive doses of PTZ demonstrates a link between seizures and altered immediate early gene expression within the hippocampus and dentate gyrus. In addition, newborn hippocampal neurons were shown to have decreased induction of plasticity-related genes, suggesting deficits in activity-dependent recruitment. These findings may shed light on the mechanisms underlying epileptogenesis and epilepsy-related hippocampal dysfunction in human patients. Author Keywords: hippocampus, IEGs, kindling, neurogenesis, seizures
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
An Analysis of Hafted Biface Variability in the Kawartha Lakes and Trent River Drainage Region
The objective of this thesis is to evaluate the temporal sensitivity of morphological variability in hafted bifaces in the Kawartha Lakes and Trent River drainage region. This provides a base of information that will enable future analyses that address the possible sources of this variability and to test the robustness of existing typological categories of hafted bifaces for relative dating. This base of information is established via the use of a principal component analysis of shape, raw material, and use-life data from a large sample of hafted bifaces in the region, using a new geometric morphometrics method designed to improve the accuracy of shape representation. The results of the analysis indicate that while certain typological categories may represent distinct morphotypes that are temporally sensitive, the majority of typological categories in the sample show high, overlapping morphological variability that cannot be confidently correlated temporally based on shape alone. Author Keywords: Geometric Morphometrics, Morphological Variability, Ontario Archaeology, Principal Component Analysis, Project Point Morphology, Projectile Point Typology
An Analysis of Zoning By-laws and Urban Agriculture in the City of Peterborough, Ontario
Urban agriculture (UA) is becoming increasingly prevalent in Canadian cities. Despite this municipal zoning by-laws often do not address UA explicitly. Using eleven interviews of urban agricultural participants a case study of the City of Peterborough’s zoning by-laws and the barriers they might present to UA was conducted. Research suggests that UA can provide many benefits to urban areas. The analysis found that the City of Peterborough’s zoning by-laws do not directly address UA. In order to enable the development of UA in the City of Peterborough its zoning by-laws will need to be redesigned to address and regulate UA directly. Author Keywords: By-laws, food systems, land use, municipal planning, urban agriculture, zoning

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Format: 2023/12/08