Liberal Studies - Theses, Dissertations, and other Required Graduate Degree Essays

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Honour and individualism: Reawakening Aristotle's virtues in the modern era

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-05-29
Abstract: 

This project asks whether the Aristotelian virtues have diminished as a result of a modern emphasis on the individual in place of the good of civilization. The idea of honour is addressed, suggesting that there is a place for a redefined concept of honour in modern society which could offer value to the individual while concurrently benefitting the larger community. Part I discusses the Aristotelian virtues, his concept of “the good” and the notion of human flourishing. An examination of the past and present ideas and definitions of honour follows. Charles Taylor’s Malaise of Modernity serves as evidence to support the notion that the virtues are in decline. Part II examines a case study of an honour code within an honour group, focusing on the US Department of Justice and a controversial decision. The relationship of honour to shame is examined in addition to honour’s shortcomings. Part III involves an examination of honour as a personal set of ethics. Paths toward utilizing a redefined concept of honour which allow the individual to flourish while enhancing the community are explored.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Stephen Duguid
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Liberal Studies Program
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.A.L.S.

Disease & desire: Sexuality, disability, screen-based media

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-05-15
Abstract: 

Within the discourse about increased diversity in entertainment media, the need for more representation of diverse ability on screen is beginning to penetrate social awareness. Beyond quotas in relation to non-disabled characters, I am interested in the quality of characters with disabilities, particularly inclusion of their sexuality. The films and videos discussed in this thesis comprise examples of sexuality that appear progressive, but upon examination actually affirm heteronormative and ableist hegemony regarding sexuality and gender; and examples of innovative sexuality on screen and use of cinematic techniques that immerse the audience in the reality of traditionally othered characters to produce a new protagonism. Central analyses include the feature films The Fundamentals of Caring, and Margarita With a Straw, whose primary characters live with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and Cerebral Palsy respectively; and the documentaries Picture This and Sexual Healing: Inside the World of Medically Assisted Sex, which illuminate sex and disability as authored from within the disability community. Insights gained from these analyses will be applied to the process of adapting Kim Clark’s book, A One-Handed Novel, into a new web-series featuring a protagonist who lives with Multiple Sclerosis and receives the news that her body can only produce six more orgasms.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Helen Hok-Sze Leung
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Liberal Studies Program
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.A.L.S.

Opening the black box: Examining the "micro-physics" of power in teacher/student co-evaluation of academic achievement

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-03-08
Abstract: 

This project is a mixed methodology self-study of the power dynamics inherent in the teacher/student collaborative evaluation of academic achievement. This grading practice consisted of an evaluation phase following a period of instruction where the teacher collaborated with students to collect and evaluate assessment evidence in light of standards. Teacher and student then shared their results in a conference and collaboratively determined the letter grade. The power dynamics of the conferences were examined through a Foucauldian power use and parrhesia framework to identify three types of power used by teacher and student: invitational, resistant, and neutral. Teacher use of power dominated the conferences, yet some students were able to resist the teacher’s use of power sufficiently to have their voice heard. Results of this study are encouraging and have proven useful in developing further iterations of this evaluation methodology.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Allan MacKinnon
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Liberal Studies Program
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.A.L.S.

Climate Change And The Many Faces Of Denial

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-07-16
Abstract: 

Despite growing evidence, there seems a general reluctance to accept the seriousness of climate change or that human activities are a prime cause. While there needs to be a substantial change in humanity’s relationship with the Earth, evidence confirms that we have done very little about it. For many, this reluctance manifests itself as a kind of denial. For others, their reluctance is embedded in cultural, religious, or tribal beliefs. This human ability to ignore those things that conflict with one’s values and beliefs, or that are so unimaginable that one can’t deal with them, as they can often increase our anxiety. This project explores the inaction around climate change, as well as the impact of that inaction on people and communities. It explores why some people are in varying degrees of denial about climate change, and how climate change relates to social., political and economic issues. While it may not be hopeless as some experts suggest, it is deadly serious. This is a narrative-based inquiry that considers the narrative or storytelling format as a non-neutral, rhetorical account that aims at “illocutionary intentions.” This approach follows a recursive, reflexive process of storytelling that subsumes a group of approaches that in turn rely on the written or spoken words or visual representation of individuals. This approach utilises field texts, stories, journals, interviews of over seventy experts, and personal observation and experience as the sources to understand this complex topic better.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Eleanore Stebner
Stephen Duguid
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Liberal Studies Program
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.A.L.S.

Cinema and Marxist aesthetics : Lukács, Benjamin and Adorno

Author: 
Peer reviewed: 
No, item is not peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2009
Abstract: 

The aim of this project is to provide an historical and philosophical interpretation of the significance of the cinema as an important medium in creating our social reality. This interpretation will use as its foundation the Marxist aesthetics of Georg Lukács, which then leads to the different assessments of popular culture found in the writings of Walter Benjamin and Theodor W. Adorno. At the same time, we will provide historical context by considering various key or paradigmatic episodes in the history of cinematic culture. My argument is that the cinema is the medium most evocative of the 20th century in terms of its social dimension as a mass art form and in its contribution to the reification of our consciousness. Yet it also retains a certain potential as an emancipatory cultural form, one that can change the modern social reality that is has itself played a significant role in creating.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Samir Gandesha
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Liberal Studies Program
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.A.L.S.

Then, and only then: Long sleeves and endless dreams

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-11-27
Abstract: 

A two-part personal narrative as an attempt to provide a memoir in letter form, written from my current self to my future self, after time and age have potentially ravaged my body and mind. Part One offers the purpose behind the letters: why they are important and what they purport to do for the intended reader. It also uses authors who have played with the life-writing and memoir/narrative genre and how they influenced my own ideas of remembering. Part Two is a series of poems, followed by letters that detail and chronicle various memories through different points in place and time; an effort to remind myself how I was formed by my past, and inevitably, what I may become in the future. The narrative unfolds while consciously trying to avoid certain moments and accentuating others. It is an interplay between familiar memories, reminiscences constructed over time, and dream-like representations.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Stephen Duguid
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Liberal Studies Program
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.A.L.S.

O Dio Che Bella: A novella project

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-11-20
Abstract: 

The question—what happens to emotionally repressed, distracted, detached, freedom-loving Anglo-North American visitors who come to Italy and actually encounter the alleged freedom that Italy offers?—is examined by means of research-creation—fiction writing: in the form of a novella, a synthesis of major GLS themes—combining artistic expression and scholarly investigation using a bricolage method of constructing objects from everyday materials by quoting from and alluding to texts: including the Prometheus Myth, Freud, and Mudford, and seventy others from GLS course syllabi. Part one shows the disorienting influence of Italian culture on the tourist; part two shows the effect of this on the visitor’s memory—seeking refuge in the everyday in thought and action can’t prevent the assault of the past on the present, and by the end the visitor’s interior world is radically changed. Theoretical influences on the novella are discussed in the preceding Statement of Intent.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Sasha Colby
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Liberal Studies Program
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.A.L.S.

Climate Change and the Many Faces of Denial

Author: 
Peer reviewed: 
No, item is not peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2018-07-16
Abstract: 

Despite growing evidence, there seems a general reluctance to accept the seriousness of climate change or that human activities are a prime cause. While there needs to be a substantial change in humanity’s relationship with the Earth, evidence confirms that we have done very little about it. For many, this reluctance manifests itself as a kind of denial. For others, their reluctance is embedded in cultural, religious, or tribal beliefs. This human ability to ignore those things that conflict with one’s values and beliefs, or that are so unimaginable that one can’t deal with them, as they can often increase our anxiety.

This project explores the inaction around climate change, as well as the impact of that inaction on people and communities. It explores why some people are in varying degrees of denial about climate change, and how climate change relates to social., political and economic issues. While it may not be hopeless as some experts suggest, it is deadly serious.

This is a narrative-based inquiry that considers the narrative or storytelling format as a non-neutral, rhetorical account that aims at “illocutionary intentions.” This approach follows a recursive, reflexive process of storytelling that subsumes a group of approaches that in turn rely on the written or spoken words or visual representation of individuals. This approach utilises field texts, stories, journals, interviews of over seventy experts, and personal observation and experience as the sources to understand this complex topic better.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Elenore Stebner
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Liberal Studies Program
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.A.L.S.

Reveries of a Solitary Biker

Date created: 
2017-02-22
Abstract: 

“Reveries of a Solitary Biker” is a two-part response to Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Reveries of the Solitary Walker, in the form of poems printed on a deck of cards and set to music, with an accompanying essay. Both essay and poems consider the difficulties of living an anti-capitalist life, the continued invisibility of much of women’s labour, the paradoxes of daily life, the nature and implications of calculations of value, and the difficulties of sustainability. The piece is intended for performance: audience members will be asked to draw cards from the deck, and the cards drawn will be performed. Each performance will thus be unique, incomplete, and inconclusive.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Stephen Duguid
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Liberal Studies Program
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.A.L.S.

An exploration on the Topoi: How our conceptual frameworks create our world

Author: 
Date created: 
2017-08-17
Abstract: 

These extended essays introduce the topoi, a conceptual framework that structures, mediates, and organizes our experience of the world. To develop my argument I describe the topoisitic perspective, a way of seeing the social and cultural world according to the affordances and limitations of specific frames of reference. I also explain how topoi change over time as new perspectives and points of view come to be accepted. The argument is illustrated with texts and ideas ranging from Darwinian evolution, to Achilles and The Iliad, Thomas Kuhn’s paradigm shifts, Karin Knorr-Cetina’s epistemic cultures, Anthony Wallace’s revitalization movements, and N.R. Hanson’s work on the conceptual foundations of science.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Gary McCarron
Jerry Zaslove
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Liberal Studies Program
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.A.L.S.