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

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Conscience, the other and the moral community: A study in meta-ethics and tragedy

Author: 
Date created: 
2006
Abstract: 

How do we make moral decisions aboul: how to treat other people? Cllassic conscience theories suggest one set of answers, founded in the interplay between external moral authority and personal factors involving reason, emotion and instinct. This paper applies such concepts to three iconic Greek tragedies and the genocidal history of the early Spanish Caribbean - interesting applications of, respectively, Hellenic ideas about the role of reason in moral decision-making and a complex theology of Indian nature with roots in Aristotelian philosophy and scriptural interpretation. A common thread emerges. A moral agent may conceive the object of action as Other - subhuman or even nonhuman - entirely circumventing operations of conscience and moral decision-making. Fortunately, recent studies suggest that the instinctual inclination to view others as Other is considerably mediated by our capacity for abstract thought and by the influence of culture.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Department: 
Liberal Studies Program - Simon Fraser University
Thesis type: 
Project (M.A.)

Public art | private views: Exploring art in public spaces in Vancouver

Date created: 
2012-04-12
Abstract: 

The project is a personal exploration of public art in Vancouver consisting of an essay and a DVD comprising three documentaries. Each episode refers to a different question in the paper: What is public art? What is its relationship to where it is situated? What is the process by which it is commissioned in a civic public art program? Artists, curators, and bureaucrats involved in the commission and installation of public art in Vancouver are interviewed; one project’s construction is followed to completion. Public art, whether civic or private-sector funded, can be defined as much by its relationship to a site as by its various categorizations, e.g. place-specific, site-specific. Offering local identity, opportunities for dialogue, and creative interpretations of a city’s history and culture, Vancouver’s public art contends with several challenges, e.g. available land, the value placed on views. Temporary installations and ephemeral art events can resolve some contentious issues.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Copyright Notice
Title
PA1. Kobberling and Kaltwasser build nothing to last
PA2. Responding to Site
PA3. Vancouver's Public Art Program
Supervisor(s): 
Jerald Zaslove
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Liberal Studies Program
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.A.L.S.

Political sortition for an evolving world

Date created: 
2012-12-13
Abstract: 

Our Western political systems are straining to prove their legitimacy partly because the internet generation demands both open information and a role in the decision making. Yet, electoral democracy may be incapable of evolving to meet those requirements. This paper looks at sortition, or the selection of decision makers by lottery, to supplement or to replace current representative democracy. Empowering a cross-section of society to make policy decisions would more directly address the interests and concerns of the populace, and would result in an egalitarian and inclusive body, more transparent and resistant to corruption than are current policy makers. Furthermore, diverse assemblies possess greater ability in solving difficult problems and in making accurate forecasts than do the more homogenous groups that currently comprise governing parties. Consensus building increases this innovative potential. With the proper application of sortition and deliberation, therefore, advancement in the common good can be accelerated.

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

And they played tennis in Hell: a screenplay

Date created: 
2012-09-20
Abstract: 

In 1955, a young Jewish Canadian sociologist named Erving Goffman began a year of fieldwork at St. Elizabeths, a federal institution for the insane. Goffman’s time at St. Elizabeths would eventually lead to the publication of Asylums, a text highly critical of institutions and psychiatry, which became a key text in many areas of academia. At the same time, Ezra Pound, an American poet was well into his tenth year of confinement at St. Elizabeths, having been found of unsound mind and thus incapable of defending the charges of treason leveled against him by the United States Government. This is the imagined story of the circumstances surrounding their meeting, and the subsequent development of an unlikely friendship forged on a tennis court in “hell”. It is also the telling of a tale in the form of a screenplay that encompasses the multiple layers of madness, genius and beauty captured within the confines of St. Elizabeths. It is a work of fictional truth that has carefully woven together allusions to many of the works that influenced Pound’s writing of The Cantos, such as the Odyssey and the Divine Comedy. In the end, it is also a story of how life’s circumstances can propel one in a direction that may not have seemed likely at the time.

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

The Gates: liminality and grief tourism in New York city, post 9/11 — and — The Lives of Animals: A play based on the novella by J. M. Coetzee

Author: 
Date created: 
2012-05-15
Abstract: 

The simple act of walking Central Park, Ground Zero, and the city streets between in February, 2005, links the public spaces both discursively and performatively during the sixteen days that Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s installation The Gates held sway over New York City. The nature of public space, public art, the public sphere and the politics of mourning are examined through various theoretical lenses, and through the ways we perform and are performed for in public. “The Lives of Animals” is a script for a performance based on a Tanners Lecture given at Princeton University in 1997 by J.M. Coetzee on the subject of animal rights. The theatrical form, like the allegorical content of the lecture itself, problematizes the divide between man and animal, reason and passion

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Peter Dickinson
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Liberal Studies Program
Thesis type: 
(Extended Essays) M.A.L.S.

Mary Magdalene: Her image and relationship to Jesus

Date created: 
2011-12-14
Abstract: 

The ambiguous figure of Mary Magdalene first appears in the Christian Gospels—most importantly as a witness to the Resurrection—and subsequently in mystical writings of Gnostic origins. Her true relationship to Jesus, and to other women in the Gospels, has sparked controversy since the early days. This project examines these controversies in light of present-day debates about the role of women in the church. To that end I consider her role in contemporary popular culture, such as in Dan Brown’s novel The Da Vinci Code, and films such as Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ. I then outline the early canonical and non-canonical writings in which she appears, and finally examine how contestants within the various faith traditions have framed her nature and role. Was she a reformed prostitute, or Jesus’s lover, or a female aspect of the Saviour himself, as the Gnostics seemed to claim? It emerges that the multifaceted image of the Magdalene has been used to send a variety of messages concerning gender, power, and the nature of redemption. I conclude that she is best considered as the female counterpart of Christ, and as such provides an inspiring example for women of our own day because of her simultaneous embrace of both worldly love and spiritual transcendence.

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

Tulipped

Author: 
Date created: 
2011-11-15
Abstract: 

Tulipped is a semi-autobiographical play that revolves around a young woman who is trapped in her fantasies and stuck in unfulfilling relationships. Her best friend intervenes and interrupts her life by staging a weekend intervention; hoping to knock some sense into her friend. The end result is an emotionally driven journey where the issues of choice vs. fate, nature vs. nurture, and forgiveness are discussed between the characters. The essay that follows offers a more in-depth discussion of the roots of maturation and healthy decision making skills and pays particular attention to the needs of children as they grow up. Connection to one’s past and the role of hindsight and reflection are also highlighted in great detail with regard to how they aid in integrating the pieces of oneself and assist in one’s ability to see the present world clearly in order to navigate the future successfully.

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

Looking with a just and loving gaze: the concept of attention in the writings of Simone Weil and Iris Murdoch

Date created: 
2011-10-28
Abstract: 

The central and unifying concept of this project is attention, which as defined by Simone Weil and Iris Murdoch, is a quotidian ethical practice. Both theorists are influenced by Platonic thought, a shared sense of the human condition and a common view of an active relationship between theory and practice. Their writings reflect their unique historical and biographical situations, including Weil’s mysticism and Murdoch’s work as a practicing novelist. The second part of the project is an active, personal investigation of the practice of attention to both other people and the natural world. Through the lens of my daily bicycle commute, I explore several themes including intrinsic or non-instrumental value, environmental ethics, and the cultivation of a qualitative ethical vocabulary through the practice of attention. I conclude with a brief analysis of Weil and Murdoch’s theory of attention as an ethical and contemporary re-imagining of Platonic thought.

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

Home: Will a house make it all okay? & The power of idealized images

Date created: 
2011-06-08
Abstract: 

“Will a house make it all okay?” is a personal reflection essay of how I construct a definition of home. Through sensory memories of home, I reconstruct my childhood definition of home and then look at how my childhood is reflected in my adult understanding of home. “The Power of Idealized Images” uses Margaret Atwood’s novel, Cat’s Eye to address the power that idealized images have in shaping our understanding of home. By tracing the protagonist’s, Elaine Risley, understanding of two distinctly different childhood home environments, I show her understanding of home is reflected in her artwork as an adult.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
June Sturrock
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Liberal Studies Program
Thesis type: 
(Extended Essays) M.A.L.S.

Chasing the lions: An autobiographical exploration into cultural translation, cultural transfer and identity formation

Author: 
Date created: 
2011-04-18
Abstract: 

This project examines the two notions of cultural translation and cultural transfer and their impact on identity formation. In it, I use my family history as a case study to investigate how identity formation is constructed through the experience of two cultures: one being Canadian, therefore more public and mainstream; with the other as Chinese, perhaps more private and embedded in past history. Using the Chinese schema of Wu Xing as a framing device, I attribute a personal characteristic to a family member by connecting it to my memories. In doing so, I wish to reveal how that person’s cultural background affected me as a child growing up in a Canadian setting. In looking at the people that have shaped my life, I posit that my identity has been, to much extent, constructed by my Chinese experience, my Canadian experience, or more likely, the combination of the two experiences.

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