Gender, Sexuality and Women's Studies - Theses, Dissertations, and other Required Graduate Degree Essays

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Theorizing trans readership: Examining ways of reading trans themed young adult literature

Author: 
Date created: 
2017-01-11
Abstract: 

While there appears to be an expansion of gender and sexuality studies within the field of young adult literature criticism, the vast majority of scholarship privileges the study of gay and lesbian identities, as well as binary gender identities—either male or female. There is not much treatment of those who identify as other or in between. In the 1990s articles began to address topics of cross-dressing and responses to cross-gender behaviour—in response to changes in the field of psychology, namely the removal of homosexuality and the addition of Gender Identity Disorder (GID) in the Diagnostic and Statistics Manual of the American Psychological Association. Explicitly trans identified characters were not published by mainstream publishers until after 2004 in the wake of Julie Ann Peters’s Luna. Using a queer theory approach to children’s and young adult literature focuses more on sexuality and sexual attraction, but the addition of various trans studies approaches—research that looks to bodily transition and modification—along with reader-response theory (Rosenblatt), allows for a more complex exploration of transformation and the notion of gender as something fluid and transitional. By working to combine queer and trans theoretical approaches with literature and the transgender body and experience, I begin working in a more complex way with new and emerging issues in literature, such as intersexuality, asexuality, and two-spiritedness. This requires moving beyond rigid gender dichotomies and homonormative/transnormative identities which are presented even within queer, gay/lesbian, and feminist studies; an exclusion which could become an inclusion with the use of transgender studies in the field of children’s and young adult literature. This study will look to find commonalities or divergent purposes between what occurs in theoretical studies and what actually matters to trans and queer young adult readers. I engage in interviews with queer and trans identified teens, as well as librarians in order to gauge what teens readers want and how they read trans and queer characters within available YA fiction. In this way, children’s and young adult literature scholars will have the ability to better understand the purpose and usefulness of textual analysis and gatekeeping processes.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Helen Leung
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

Racialized migrant women: Experiences of community organizers

Date created: 
2017-03-22
Abstract: 

This research explores the experiences and identities of self-identified racialized migrant women working in community advocacy sectors. Using feminist critical race theories and approaches, I conducted three community conversations and three interviews where participants explored an array of topics including Indigeniety, self-care, sexism, homophobia and settler – migrant relationships. This research includes two themes: 1) the implication of migrant bodies in the systemic dispossession of Indigenous Nations by exploring the ways in which we (as migrants working in advocacy sectors) contribute to the solidification of colonial and neo-colonial narratives; and 2) offers a model of participatory feminist methods and approaches described in this work as a means to provide alternative ways of engaging migrant communities in research.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Jennifer Marchbank
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

A "Minor League Equivalent to the Eiffel Tower and the Empire State Building": Vancouver's Penthouse Nightclub

Author: 
Date created: 
2016-12-14
Abstract: 

The Penthouse is rumoured to be the oldest continuously operating nightclub in the land we now know as Canada and is without a doubt the oldest exotic nightclub. Owned and operated by an Italian family who emigrated to Vancouver, British Columbia, The Penthouse has survived numerous waves of moral crackdown in the city as well as many offers to buy the prime location in the face of aggressive development. A staggering number of nightclubs in Vancouver, exotic or otherwise, have not shared the same fate. Through conducting an institutional history of The Penthouse I locate it within changing local politics related to feminist activism, policing, and the sex industry as well as larger shifts in cultural attitudes towards sexual labour and sex workers’ bodies. Further I assemble a social history of the dancers, looking at their experiences in the club and their perception of the intersections between feminism, identity, performance, and sex. Feminist theory, women’s and gender history, and performance studies inform this multi-method project, which includes results and analysis from archival research and oral history interviews conducted with dancers employed at the club from 1978-2012. Overwhelmingly, the narrators reflected on their time as dancers as valuable to their lives in a myriad of ways, including helping to foster healthy relationships with their bodies and sexualities. Nevertheless most felt that the stigma they faced as sexual labourers impacted their lives in a negative way and was in conflict with the way they experienced their work themselves. This ongoing stigma was often a driving force for abandoning striptease for more ‘square’ or respectable work. Others continue to work in the sex industry. Eleven dancers shared their stories for this project, as did one member of the serving staff at The Penthouse, booking agent Randy Knowlan, and current owner/operator Danny Filippone. These stories offer a history of the Penthouse which places it as a central part of Vancouver’s history. At a time when conventional striptease seems to be in decline and other facets of the sex industry seem to be under attack by new forms of criminal regulation, the interviews with dancers, staff, and the owner/operator suggest that future possibilities for Vancouver’s contemporary striptease communities might lie in the evolving local neo-burlesque scene.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Lara Campbell
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

Negotiating Physical Activity - Afro Immigrant Women in Canada Tackle Cardiovascular Disease

Date created: 
2016-07-28
Abstract: 

Epidemiological research suggest that regular physical activity is beneficial for overall physical, psychological and mental health but more specifically, as a modifiable risk factor for cardiovascular disease, physical activity, done a regular basis, has been shown to be positively associated with lowered risk of cardiovascular disease (Pate et al. 1995; Tremblay et al. 2011). Unfortunately, research on physical activity participation rates suggests that a significant percentage of Black women are not sufficiently active (Bryan et al 2006 and Chiu 2010). However, since much of the existing research places emphasis on the barriers to physical activity for ‘inactive’ Black women, less is known about the experiences of the women who are physically active. Using a feminist cultural studies framework that integrates the critical insights of anti-racist feminism, Black feminist theory and postcolonial feminist studies, this study seeks to understand and explore the behaviour patterns, and their associated meanings, for a small group of highly active Black women. Fifteen women participated in the study; three of whom are non-Black women. The women’s narratives suggest that their perceptions and experiences of their body was a major determinant in how they participated in physical activity. The women received, processed, and interpreted messages about the benefits of physical activity in the maintenance of healthier lives in ways that motivated them to be physically active. The implication is that Black women are paying attention to their bodies and to health messages about their bodies. The challenges that the women experienced, related to issues of race/racism and ideas around Blackness as well as disparities in cultural expectations. The extent to which the women were physically active had a bearing on how well they had learned to work around issues of Blackness, evidenced in how they chose to strategize and negotiate around possibilities to be active. This study has served as a starting point for dialogue around the participation of ‘ordinary’ Black Canadian women in physical activity. It has established that the diversity that exists among Black people/women as well as the complexities around ideas of a Black community require strategies that are sensitive of these issues.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Cynthia Patton
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

Sexual Artifice Through “Transgression”: The Revival of Cross-Gender Performance in Jingju

Author: 
Date created: 
2015-05-11
Abstract: 

This study is about—and beyond—the unprecedented revival of cross-gender performance in theatre, especially the male-to-female cross-gender performance of jingju (Beijing Opera), known as nandan. Through years long pre-investigations of the scene, archival work of its history, and case studies of individuals, this project examines the specificity and universality of the (in)coherences between sense of gender, sexuality, gender identities, gender mannerisms, transgressive desires and cross-gender performance behind the advocate of “historical authenticity” and “the return to the social and cultural norm.” Over twenty informants have contributed to the research with their narratives and observations in the scene. The project ends up with the observation that the transgressive potential of performing out of one’s biological sex is peculiar not only to one individual or one theatrical form, but to humankind in general. The conclusions drawn from the qualitative analysis may subvert some of the prevailing epistemologies of gender and sex. Firstly, there is no singular gendered subject. Gender discourse only exists in a “signifier-and-signified” relation to the subject’s perception of other gendered bodies. Secondly, it is not precise to claim that gender is socially or culturally constructed. Gender is reconstructed or amplified out of its ontological attributes based on biological differences, whose existence should be acknowledged. Reiteration does not precisely “do” gender, but may affect it to some extent, as there is a core sense of gendered self, albeit unsettled oftentimes, which is “inalienable” and “inseperatable.” Thirdly, gender may be performable, as in jingju, while gender performance and gender performativity are interchangeable only when they are not placed in a context to discuss their association with identity. In this sense, incoherence does not only exist between gender, sexuality and desires, but also between gender identities, gender mannerisms and gender behaviours. It may be concluded that gender transgression should not be understood on its own terms, but in a context of all social and cultural regulation and institutionalization that regard the interchangeability of signifiers of maleness and of femaleness as a threat to mainstream perception.

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

“A jewel of mine”: The murder of Maple Batalia and Gendered Violence in the Mainstream News Media

Date created: 
2015-01-16
Abstract: 

This thesis interrogates the ways in which Intimate Partner Homicide is represented by mainstream news media in Vancouver, British Columbia. By conducting a close reading of articles related to the murder of Maple Batalia between September 2011 and December 31 2012, this thesis examines how ethnicity, citizenship, and immigrant status inform news media coverage of violence, and asks whether these representations challenge or reify the dominant gendered narratives surrounding Intimate Partner Homicide. In particular, the thesis explores how South Asian masculinities are constructed by the mainstream news media via the representations of Batalia's father and her accused killer.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Lara Campbell
Catherine Murray
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Moving Beyond the Citizen's Shadow: South Asian Canadian Women's Agency

Author: 
Date created: 
2014-06-27
Abstract: 

Citizenship is more than a set of legal rights and includes social and cultural components that are actively negotiated; yet such negotiations often take place within a range of limited options. Without denying the individuality of immigrant experiences, it is important to observe the patterns that have emerged in South Asian women’s encounters with Canadian citizenship and immigration policies. Most South Asian women migrated to Canada as dependents and faced similar forms of subordination after moving to Canada. Mainstream society marginalized South Asians for their skin colour and ‘foreign’ accents, superficial indicators that were undergirded by a profound perception of racial difference. This study will explore how the meaning of citizenship has changed for South Asian Canadian women by focusing on two periods: 1919-1949 and 1967-1997. This thesis will argue that various legal, social, and cultural factors have constrained South Asian Canadian women’s citizenship experience but they have utilized their agency and autonomy to overcome the secondary status that these barriers have imposed on them.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Inderjeet's Oral History Interview
Simran's Oral History Interview
Pooja's Oral History Interview
Kel's Oral History Interview
Senior supervisor: 
Habiba Zaman
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Lesbian and Queer Generations in Vancouver: An Intergenerational Oral History Project

Date created: 
2014-06-20
Abstract: 

This thesis explores the possibilities of cross-generational oral history interviewing as a pedagogical tool for intergenerational conversation and broader historical understanding in queer communities. Through an analysis of the experiences of five younger queer women ages 19-30 who interviewed 15 older lesbians active in the lesbian feminist community in Vancouver during the 1970s and 80s, this research examines differences in identity formation and community building between these two ‘generational cohorts’. While lesbians in the 1970s and 80s created a vibrant and unprecedented culture and historical presence, few younger queer women are familiar with this history. This thesis argues that linear historical and generational thinking coupled with dominant heteronormative notions of kinship impacts queer communities, which tend to be uni-generational. These factors prevent or serve as barriers to cross-generational queer community building; prevent youth from knowing their connections to a shared queer history; and leave important legacies- such as lesbian feminism- in the forgotten past. This project disrupts these barriers to intergenerational connection and historical understanding and argues for the importance of re-examining the lesbian-feminist past.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Elise Chenier
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

The Women’s Poverty–Empowerment Nexus: Engendering Microfinance in the Global Political Economy

Author: 
Date created: 
2014-06-06
Abstract: 

The creation of the women’s poverty-empowerment nexus in development discourses has legitimized the widespread use of microfinance. Despite the success of microfinance in supplying credit, the evidence to suggest it has substantially reduced poverty and increased women’s empowerment is mixed. This thesis examines the link between trends in the global political economy, microfinance, and gender. To reveal this link, a critical discourse analysis of development discourses and a content analysis of impact studies of the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh and BancoSol in Bolivia are employed to assess the gap between rhetoric and impacts of microfinance. Insights gained from Tanzania provide a deeper understanding as to why, despite the success of microfinance in delivering credit, poverty and gender inequality persist. This research reveals that far from addressing economic and social inequality, microfinance exists and functions within gendered power structures and relationships rather than resolving them.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Habiba Zaman
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Pretty, Witty and Femme: Negotiations of Gender and Sex in Sartorial Representations on Tumblr - and - Smoking Hot Dykes: Smoking Imagery and Lesbian Style on Tumblr

Author: 
Date created: 
2013-01-30
Abstract: 

1. Pretty, Witty and Femme: Negotiations of Gender and Sex in Sartorial Representations on Tumblr. This paper addresses the primacy of visual representations of queer femme-ininity on the microblogging platform, Tumblr. Three femme styles are analyzed using a qualitative queer and feminist intersectional theoretical framework. The analysis revealed that sartorial expressions of femme-ininity on Tumblr reflect a postmodern approach to conscious gender presentation that re-defines. Sartorial negotiations of femme gender and sexual desire are complex and varied, and visibility as a sole sartorial strategy for subversion is restraining. 2. Smoking Hot Dykes: Smoking Imagery and Lesbian Style on Tumblr. This paper discusses the role of the cigarette as a component to a lesbian sartorial style on the website Tumblr, called pomo dyke style. The investigation examines how the cigarette fashions the pomo dyke in a qualitative analysis of images depicting this style. Findings revealed themes in imagery depicting the pomo dyke style, including melancholy, whiteness, thinness, and class rebellion. Fashionable deviance materializes on the queer who values wilfulness in self-presentation while disregarding factors influencing her privilege.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Mary Lynn Stewart
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies
Thesis type: 
(Extended Essays) M.A.