English - Theses, Dissertations, and other Required Graduate Degree Essays

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Readers in the margins: Texts, paratexts, and reading audiences in Romantic-era fiction

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-10-19
Abstract: 

Readers in the Margins: Texts, Paratexts, and Reading Audiences in Romantic-era Fiction investigates how the form of the book influenced literary form in the Romantic period—not just how readers read and how publishers marketed, but how pre-existing paratextual norms shaped how writers conceived of and composed their writing. To do so, this project draws on a combination of book history and narratological strategies to explore how the material and historical realities of the Romantic-era book industry shaped fiction during the period. Contextualizing the narrative strategies of authors including Maria Edgeworth, Jane Austen, and Frances Burney within the early nineteenth-century material culture of the book reveals how Romantic-era cultural conceptions of genre, audience, and gender are encoded in the physical manifestations of their fiction. This argument builds on three critical discourses in the study of the period’s fiction: discussions of eighteenth-century and Romantic-era paratexts and the book as technology, by Janine Barchas, Christina Lupton, Andrew Piper, and Alex Watson; scholarship that engages with the commercialization of print, historical reading practices, and their relationship to the construction of Romantic-era reading audiences in the popular imagination, by Stephen Colclough, Jan Fergus, Michael Gamer, Jon Klancher, and William St. Clair; and studies of the gendering of audiences, genres, and authors, by Adriana Cracuin, Ina Ferris, and Jacqueline Pearson, among others. Bringing together these disparate strands of criticism demonstrates how the paratext is a necessary context for understanding literary innovation in the Romantic period. The first two chapters explore what kinds of explicit and implicit information paratexts conveyed to readers during the Romantic period and what kinds of implications those had for readers who had to navigate an increasingly overwhelming number of books by looking at title page design and Maria Edgeworth’s use of genre, respectively, while the third and fourth chapters take as case studies two authors, Jane Austen and Frances Burney who make use of their readers’ paratextual expectations to experiment with narrative for political ends.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Michelle Levy
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of English
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

Homo-heroic love: Male friendship on the Restoration stage

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-11-16
Abstract: 

“Homo-Heroic Love: Male Friendship on the Restoration Stage” asks why, while sodomy and homosexuality were still criminalized, did the London Restoration stage depict men in love? Scholars have resisted reading these male friendships—where men kiss, hug, and declare their constancy to each other—as exhibiting same-sex desire, an approach that overlooks these texts’ importance as historical sites of non-normative sexual expression. In order to combat the denial of same-sex desire within these tragedies, I coin the term “homo-heroic love” to describe male relationships that are physically demonstrative, emotionally intimate, and socially revered. For example, in Nathanial Lee’s The Rival Queens (1677), Hephestion hierarchizes male love above heteronormative affection, transforming homoerotic desire into something that is honourable and revered: “Such is not Womans love, / So fond a friendship, such a sacred flame, / As I must doubt to find in Breasts above.” Combining queer theory and performance studies, I demonstrate how homoeroticism was appropriated as an advantageous tool in reinforcing patriarchal power, and how the promotion of “homo-heroic” love was a response to concerns about Charles II’s newly restored, but unstable, monarchy.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Diana Solomon
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of English
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

Dispossessed indigeneity: literary excavations of internalized colonialism

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-08-01
Abstract: 

Dispossessed Indigeneity: Literary Excavations of Internalized Colonialism begins with the premise that 21st century Indigenous political movements focused on returning to our particular nations, languages, and land bases are often not accessible to urban and dispossessed Indigenous people. Further, I contend that urban and dispossessed Indigenous people embody particular subjectivities that contemporary Indigenous theory has not sufficiently recognized, understood, or theorized. To begin to fill this gap, Dispossessed Indigeneity seeks to theorize the subjectivities of Indigenous people who have been dispossessed from our ancestral communities, families, and lands, in order to articulate our political agency and potential contributions to social struggles against colonialism and capitalism. To do so, the following pages present historicized and politicized readings of three Indigenous authors in Canada: Edward Ahenakew (Cree); George Clutesi (Nuu-chah-nulth); and Jeannette Armstrong (Syilx). Through close readings of their texts, I offer Indigenous perspectives on political problems that characterize contemporary working class and urban Indigenous social movements. These problems include interweaving an anti-colonial Indigenous analysis with an anti-capitalist analysis; locating Indigenous politics of recognition and redistribution that do not rely on models of recognition and redistribution controlled by the colonial state; developing a concept of Indigenous historical consciousness as an avenue of politicization; and articulating Indigenous concepts and practices of land and value rooted in noncapitalist ecological knowledges. Woven through the four literary and theoretical chapters are interludes that extend the personal and political reflections of the introduction, showing my own stake in the critical work of the following pages, as well as practicing Indigenous storytelling alongside the authors whose works I consider.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Deanna Reder
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of English
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

Emulous Fellowship and the Elizabethan Pastoral Eclogue

Date created: 
2017-12-05
Abstract: 

“Emulous Fellowship and the Elizabethan Pastoral Eclogue” re-conceptualizes literary composition according to ideas of competition unique to early modern England. Elizabethan terms of fellowship—including copemate, emulator, and competitor—might connote positive, reciprocal relationships while simultaneously suggesting opposition, antagonism, and envy. This “emulous” language structures much of the dialogue in Elizabethan English eclogues, a verse form modelled after ancient singing shepherds and popularized by Philip Sidney and Edmund Spenser. My dissertation starts with the eclogue’s humble beginnings in early modern schoolrooms and finishes with its usage in elegizing Elizabeth I and in praising James I. Hence, the dissertation’s arc, loosely based on the Virgilian literary career (or rota), progresses from youth until death, and from shepherds to princes. As both canonical and lesser-known poets present “composition as competition” modelled after the eclogue’s pseudo-rustic lessons, singing contests, amorous invitations, and funeral rehearsals, they showcase unstable, competitive relationships between shepherds and between shepherd-poets. This dissertation aims to restore the eclogue, long regarded as leisurely pastoral verse associated with poetic neophytes, to its Elizabethan context: a significant literary form through which shepherd-poets, engaging their fellows as copemates, emulators, and competitors, cast poetic composition as exercises in power and hierarchy.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Tiffany Jo Werth
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of English
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

Unsociable Poetry: Antagonism and Abstraction in Contemporary Feminized Poetics

Author: 
Date created: 
2017-03-28
Abstract: 

Unsociable Poetry: Antagonism and Abstraction in Contemporary Feminized Poetics argues that feminized poetry aesthetically theorizes non-conceptual and otherwise hidden dimensions of gendered and racialized experience, in order to show how such experience is form-determined by late capitalist modes of value production and the socially-binding forces of real abstractions. This “unsociable poetry” mobilizes two key dynamics—abstraction and antagonism—both of which can be thought of as concepts, categories, and processes, sometimes all at once. Theorizing the relation between aesthetic abstractions and capitalist abstractions, I demonstrate how feminized poets articulate and critique the effects of deindustrialization, and the forms of positive representation advanced by the liberal politics of recognition that serve to reproduce colonial structures of domination. I document a variety of antagonisms in their work, showing how these arise from the contradictions of social life as it is dominated—that is, form-determined—by value. To this end, I read Bernadette Mayer’s and Catherine Wagner’s work as antagonistic poetics of social reproduction, tracking forms of recalcitrance in their poetry through systematic dialectics; Marie Annharte Baker’s and Dawn Lundy Martin’s poems as modes of transformative antagonism which refuse the very ground upon which racial representation is staged; Claudia Rankine’s use of tone as an aesthetic mode uniquely suited to critique the systematic reinscription of blackness as a real abstraction; Bhanu Kapil’s mobilization of a counter-(re)productive negativity that is able to aesthetically trace the negative dialectics of the value-form itself; and Alli Warren’s poetry as an attempt to collapse the distance between essence and appearance, to abolish capitalist mediation, even if it knows the inadequacy of poetry to this task. Throughout this dissertation, I argue that dialectical reading—and specifically, systematic dialectics—is key to understanding the apparently isolated moments of an integrated totality, one in which gendered and racialized states of precarity often appear formally disconnected from the economic relations out of which they emerge. In this way, reading feminized poetry dialectically leads us to a meaningful understanding of value as the ultimate abstraction, the one that propels capital in its moving contradiction, and consequently as the real abstraction that shapes all others.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Stephen Collis
Jeff Derksen
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of English
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

Moving Publics: Site-Based Dance and Urban Spatial Politics

Date created: 
2016-04-04
Abstract: 

Moving Publics develops a set of strategies for analyzing how professional site-based dances refunction and reframe the public spaces in which they are set. Using a site-specific methodology, I focus on five case studies in Vancouver (Canada) to advance a theory about the reciprocal relationship between ground and movement—a notion of “choreographic topographies” that is sensitive to the socially and politically inscribed grooves that constitute a given dance’s local emplacement. I examine an archival dance, an “urban proscenium” dance, a vertical dance, a danced walking tour, and a tactile dance to analyze how different forms of site-based dance hail audiences in their bids for curbside attention. These performances, I argue, contain important information about the relationship between a temporary public and the address (in the dual sense of salutation and location) around which that public coheres. I contend that choreographic explorations of public places bring us together to move, or in stillness to watch, in ways that challenge our atomized movement through city spaces. In doing so, these dance-based practices pose questions of aesthetics, use, access, exclusion, density, and mobility in resolutely physical terms. Framed by kinaesthetic concepts (arriving, gathering, following, turning, lifting, passing, and adjusting), Moving Publics proposes a model of choreographic thinking that takes movement as a critical lens as well as an object of study. Extending outward from my study of the choreographic object, I bring a movement interpreter’s attention to the physical arrangements of audiencing bodies in and around the dances I study. I analyze the consequences of coding as theatrical both the publics and the public spaces in which these dances are set, and I examine what dance—a form that regularly relies on directed, delegated, and aesthetic labour in the context of collaborative co-presence—can expose about how we move in and through our cities, with and past one another. The dances I study foreground how the city (a built, legislated, lived, and perpetually unsettled structure) orchestrates a set of quiet choreographies of the everyday even as they reimagine a “relational kinaesthetics” at the threshold of vicariousness.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Peter Dickinson
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of English
Thesis type: 
(Dissertation) Ph.D.

Singing the Nation: British Song Culture

Date created: 
2015-12-09
Abstract: 

This dissertation investigates articulations of nationalism and empire found within British song culture from the early eighteenth to the mid-nineteenth centuries. It seeks to expand our critical understanding of song culture, reading it as a varied, complex and multi-mediated form and suggesting that song culture needs to be situated at the centre of the culture of the Romantic period. I consider the characteristics of fluidity, mobility, dynamism, transformation, capaciousness, performativity evident in the work of four cultural producers: Allan Ramsay (1684-1758), Robert Burns (1759-1796), Charles Dibdin (1745-1814), and Thomas Moore (1779-1852). Each one was involved in the production of song culture through such practices as collecting, editing, writing, or performing songs. Chapter One examines the complicated ways in which song culture, gender, and the tropological play in the idea of “voice” figure in the construction of national identity in Allan Ramsay’s song collection The Tea-Table Miscellany (1724-1876). Chapter Two discusses the fluid form of national identity expressed in the songs of Robert Burns resulting from the interplay of history, ideas of the nation, and his activities as a producer, collector, and reviser of Scottish songs. Chapter Three suggests how the sea songs of Charles Dibdin not only posit an expansive form of national identity but reveal the capacity of song culture to effect change as well as challenge our understanding of late-eighteenth-century radicalism. Finally, Chapter Four examines the issue of context, considering how the material (con)textualization of Moore’s Irish songs affects the form of national belonging they express. These case studies provide evidence of how national song culture during this period could serve multiple, sometimes oppositional political purposes.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Leith Davis
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of English
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

The body in the room: Embodied poetics and the traces of loss

Date created: 
2015-08-13
Abstract: 

"The Body in the Room: Embodied Poetics and the Traces of Loss" investigates poetic and artistic practices that seek to foreground the materiality of art and of the body, and examines the ways in which the products of these practices are preserved. Taking as its starting point the Charles Olson archives at Simon Fraser University, this project focuses on three twentieth-century figures: a poet, Charles Olson; a pianist, Sergei Rachmaninoff; and, finally, a painter, Carolee Schneemann. Each offer in turn a model of artistic embodiment and a method of material production. The spaces, both institutional and private, in which these bodies find their preservation, form, beyond a linkage between my examinations of separate artists, a call to further inquiry: while this project chiefly examines bodies, their rooms, too, bear exploring. These rooms are sites for a manner of reproduction facilitated by the material traces of embodied art – a process of reincarnation that is at odds with the alleged embodiment of these artists.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Stephen Collis
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of English
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Framing the Photographer: Discourse and Performance in Portrait Photography

Date created: 
2015-05-15
Abstract: 

Framing the Photographer: Discourse and Performance in Portrait Photography reconsiders photographic criticism, theory, and history in terms of the photographic event. I argue that discursive frames—whether formed through art history, juridical language, technological format, or otherwise—inform and interact with the formal composition of photographs, the channels through which photography circulates, and the attitudes and performances of the photographers themselves. Rather than representing a moment, fixed in time, I argue that photography is an event characterized largely by contingency and the relationships between players; these include the photographer, subject, viewer, and critic. This project expands the parameters of the discursive definitions of portraiture to allow for what might be considered the portrait’s opposite – indecorous representations, photography used as a tool for violence or torture, and the act of hiding one’s face before a camera. I therefore consider photographic performances that clash against, or overlap with, conventions of portraiture, a genre defined largely through its ability to confer some form of personhood through the act of looking. In drawing a more inclusive discursive frame, I create space to consider the value of critical models that pay attention to the way viewers experience photography throughout their bodies, rather than simply emphasizing vision. My study of portraiture not only considers faces, then, but also bodies and body language, tears, textured surfaces of skin, memory, haptic qualities of touching or feeling, and the relationship between sound and vision. Each chapter is organized around a central term that reappears across various discursive frames: “Invisibility,” “Intimacy,” “Circulation,” and “Sharing.” Built around these terms, my project establishes the ways in which the various discourses overlap and interact. As a whole, this project combines the study of rhetoric and theory with analysis of the visual and material properties of photographs in order to parse out the histories, theories, rituals, and beliefs that frame body, word, and image.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Clint Burnham
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: English
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

A Polar Projection: The Northern Dimension in Modern Scottish Literature

Date created: 
2015-04-08
Abstract: 

Drawing on a transnational turn in recent Scottish literary criticism, this dissertation examines a transnational northern dimension in modern Scottish literature. Following a ‘No’ vote in an historic referendum on independence in 2014, the question of what Scotland and ‘Scottishness’ is in a post-referendum twenty-first century world is once again being debated and reimagined. Literature, as always in Scotland, will play a major role in this process. While the nation and national identity remain important subjects of critical focus and investigation, the writers examined within this dissertation offer ways of reorienting and reconsidering the conceptual, cultural, and creative boundaries of Scotland and Scottish literature, moving northwards into an awareness of as well as engagement with a Nordic and broader circumpolar world. For these writers, the North is both a physical as well as conceptual space, and it is articulated in a number of ways: as an aspirational identity; a metaphysical space, theological as well as philosophical; as the cultural, historical and geographical world of the Norse sagas; and a larger cartographic and physical space of being in the natural world, or more geographically, ecologically, and topographically defined, being in the North. By looking North, the writers I consider in this dissertation have complicated essential notions of Scotland and transcended proscriptive conceptions of Scottishness through a reorientation of their imaginative and creative perspectives. At a time when the North is becoming an important transnational subject of critical study, these writers provide an opportunity for Scottish studies to expand its critical scope into a broader global context. From James Macpherson’s transnational northern epic Ossian (1765) to the northern ecophilosophical writing of Hugh MacDiarmid, Kenneth White, Kathleen Jamie and John Burnside, and from the creative engagement with the Icelandic sagas in the Norse novels of George Mackay Brown and Margaret Elphinstone to the transnational northern imaginative and discursive space in the contemporary Shetlandic poetry of Robert Alan Jamieson and Christine De Luca, there has been and continues to be a strong transnational northern dimension in modern Scottish literature. I will conclude by suggesting new critical directions in Scottish northern studies.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Leith Davis
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences:
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.