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

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An incomplete story: Luigi Giussani and his encounter with modernity

Author: 
Date created: 
2015-02-20
Abstract: 

Luigi Giussani (1922–2005) was an Italian Catholic philosopher and educator. He founded the lay movement Comunione e Liberazione and produced a large written body of work, including The Religious Sense. Particularly in that text, he developed a critique of contemporary culture intended to elucidate a religious attitude to reality that is natural to humanity and a range of contingent social conditions that obstruct that attitude. He presented those conditions as limiting the horizons of human possibility and rendering the Catholic proposal obscure. My concern is with Giussani as a figure in confrontation with modernity and liberalism, and this essay builds to an examination of his work as a critique of liberalism. It argues that this critique lacks the specificity and detail to be successful, and that this has serious consequences for his attempts to advance Catholicism as a liveable possibility.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Christine Jones
Department: 
Arts and Social Sciences:
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Master of Arts

A Pragmatic Examination of A Secular Age

Date created: 
2015-01-28
Abstract: 

Inspired by William James’ description of pragmatism, this thesis investigates some conceivable effects of Charles Taylor’s A Secular Age. It is argued that Taylor’s articulation of a shared pre-ontological outlook, referred to as the immanent frame, is pragmatically valuable because it exposes and invalidates a pervasive entrenchment between people of varied metaphysical outlooks. This thesis begins by recapitulating Taylor’s grand narrative explaining the origins and conditions of the immanent frame. It then analyzes selected works and social organizations created by Karen Armstrong andPaul Kurtz, which exemplify typical open and closed perspectives within the immanent frame. This analysis demonstrates how disparate agendas become appreciable as structurally opposed when recognized as typical orientations in the immanent frame, and how this recognition challenges each polemic. Finally, the Quebec Charter of Values is exposed as an attack on those who frame their lives in relation to something that transcends the immanent frame.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Eleanor Stebner
Department: 
Arts and Social Sciences:
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Master of Arts

Herodotus: The Greek Struggle for Freedom

Date created: 
2014-12-12
Abstract: 

The narrative that Herodotus offers in the Histories relates how and why Persia and Greece clashed in mighty conflicts over power. Throughout his narrative, Herodotus includes descriptions of clashes over freedom in societies in the ancient known world. Herodotus approaches the conflicts between political systems in autonomy and autocracy with a measured and objective tone. He illustrates how geography, climate, and culture affect the various political systems. The present analysis is based on M.H. Hansen’s nine principles of freedom in the classical Greek world and shows how Herodotus weaves the motif of freedom into his narrative in writing the Histories. Herodotus states that he makes a “display” of his “history” (research) to show the deeds of both Greeks and non-Greeks and to explain how they gain, maintain, and lose freedom, and why they wage war. The reason they clash turns out largely to do with their different approaches to freedom.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
David Mirhady
Paul Dutton
Department: 
Arts and Social Sciences:
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Master of Arts

Between Fantasy and Reality: Time-Travel Romance and Media Fandom in Chinese Cyberspace

Author: 
Date created: 
2014-05-01
Abstract: 

The popularity of time-travel romance genre in Chinese cyberspace has become a phenomenon in recent years. Between Fantasy and Reality examines the most-read time-travel romance texts, fans’ participation and the affective space between the texts and their fans at Jinjiang Literature City. Going beyond traditional literary studies, this thesis analyzes fans’ interpretations, responses and discussions to reveal how much this literary practice has meant for young Chinese women on communicational, cultural and social levels. I argue that there exists a motive of utopian realism behind their daily practices. Focusing on Web-based romance reading and writing, my thesis also reveals the new trends of Chinese popular literature.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Shuyu Kong
Department: 
Arts and Social Sciences: Department of Humanities
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Master of Arts

Breaking the Gaze: Ressentiment, Bad Faith, and the Struggle for Individual Freedom

Date created: 
2014-01-23
Abstract: 

Taking on a relatively unexplored topic, this thesis investigates the connection between Friedrich Nietzsche and Jean-Paul Sartre by revisiting both philosophers’ focus on individual choice and freedom. To do so, it first outlines the restraints placed on the individual by the gaze of the other. From there, it lays out the necessary steps towards liberation, emphasizing individual authenticity and responsibility, and the burden attached to the constant tasks of self-becoming and self-overcoming. This subsequently leads to an analysis of creative action and aesthetics, more specifically, of music and prose-writing’s ability to generate meaning. Through these discussions, this thesis aims to renew interest in Nietzsche’s and Sartre’s philosophies, and prove that an existential reading of their thoughts is still relevant to contemporary societies and can, therefore, offer some possible solutions to the current and ongoing issues of human rights and freedom.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Samir Gandesha
Department: 
Arts and Social Sciences: Department of Humanities
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Master of Arts

Modernity or Capitalism? Technology in Heidegger and Marx

Author: 
Date created: 
2013-11-20
Abstract: 

Modernity or Capitalism? explores a parallelism that can be found in the work of Martin Heidegger and Karl Marx. The two share a similar ontology of labour that forms the basis of their distinct understandings of the technological world. I first outline the respective critiques of technology by Heidegger and Marx, then argue that the global system comprises both modern techno-scientific representation and capitalism. Everything must fall within the system’s self-enclosed logic. Abstraction, thus, becomes the structuring force. I argue that the system cannot account for the concrete character of human labour. Through a close reading of Heidegger and Marx I explore the possibility of concrete practical activity as a potential structuring force of the system.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Ian Angus
Department: 
Arts and Social Sciences: Department of Humanities
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Master of Arts

Restoring knowledge: John of Salisbury’s “return to the tree”

Date created: 
2013-04-24
Abstract: 

In 1159 CE, the English diplomat and ecclesiastic John of Salisbury published two books, the Policraticus and the Metalogicon, the former a treatise on the nature of good governance, and the latter a defence of classical education. Believing that political leadership should be based on moral precepts, John observed that moral judgment seemed to have been largely replaced in both church and state by personal ambition for wealth and power. Believing further that the knowledge required for moral judgment should be gained through proper education, John reasoned that knowledge itself had become fractured, and that it was necessary to return to that point and rebuild knowledge anew. Concluding that the fracture occurred with Adam’s expulsion from paradise for eating from the tree of knowledge, John reasoned that mankind must ‘return to the tree.” This thesis analyzes John’s “return to the tree” within the intellectual context of the twelfth-century renaissance.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Paul Dutton
Department: 
Arts and Social Sciences: Department of Humanities
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Master of Arts

Mirror of princes: René Girard, Aristotle, and the rebirth of tragedy

Date created: 
2005
Abstract: 

RenC Girard is a theorist who finds evidence in literature and drama for his anthropological hypothesis of human origin and the role of scapegoating in human affairs. The originary scene of human evolution is described by the generative anthropology of Eric Gans in a way that refines Girard. Generative anthropology also permits an evolutionary model of esthetic form founded on the originary scene that can account for Aristotle's insights into both esthetic and political affairs. As a comparison of Girard's postmodern analysis with the classical analysis of Aristotle's Poetics suggests, there are constants in esthetic evolution. A fivefold pattern of narrative universals can be abstracted from Aristotle and Girard as a model for tracking evolutionary progress and cultural rebirth. This model for esthetic history may also be developed to account for political form as evolved in particular cultures and mirrored in their drama (Aeschylus' Athens and Shakespeare's England). Girard's political model is impractically apocalyptic because it demands the end of the allegedly one and only earthly regime ("scapegoating"). But Aristotle's many mixed regime types in the Politics afford a better evolutionary model for how regime change is mirrored in esthetic form to commemorate real transitions between historical epochs. Such cultural change is initiated by the deliberate "firstness" of statesmanlike prudence. As generative anthropology suggests, the classical and neoclassical esthetics are distinct eras in the evolution of human experience. This evolution is visible in the transitions commemorated in Aeschylus' Oresteia and Shakespeare's Henriad. In the classical esthetic, the separation of office from person, which establishes a secure basis for territorial loyalty, is signified in Aeschy1u.s' Oresteia. This is what Athena's Eumenides represent in the new context of the Areopagus, as society evolves from Orestes, who represented requisite divine justice in the context of Agamemnon's murder. In the neoclassical esthetic, the binding of territorial loyalty to the corporate personality of the human sovereign who rules by consent is signified in Shakespeare's Henriad. This is what Henry V represents in the new context of Agincourt, as society evolves from Henry IV, who represented requisite human ceremony in the context of Richard 11's deposition.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Department: 
Special Arrangements: Humanities and English - Simon Fraser University
Thesis type: 
Thesis (Ph.D.)

(Self-)censorship and the ideologies of criticism : Latin American feminisms within and outside the Anglo-American institution

Peer reviewed: 
No, item is not peer reviewed.
Date created: 
1997
Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Antonio Gomez-Moriana
Department: 
Arts and Social Sciences: Humanities
Thesis type: 
Thesis (Ph.D.)

The experience of exile through the eyes of Czech writers

Author: 
Peer reviewed: 
No, item is not peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2006
Abstract: 

This thesis seeks to demonstrate how the experience of exile was reflected in the work of 20th century Czech writers. It does so by way of an examination of the respective responses of Jan Drabek and Jaroslav Vejvoda to two historical traumas: the 1948 Communist Coup and the failure of the "Prague Spring" in 1968. It argues that while both Drabek and Vejvoda employ typical aspects of exilic literature in their work, each of them provides a different reflection on exile according to the distinct social and political condition of his time. By analyses of these responses to historical trauma, this thesis emphasizes the transition from the external, social, and political approach of Drabek to the internal, private, and strictly non political position of Vejvoda.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Samir Gandesha
Department: 
Arts and Social Sciences: Humanities
Thesis type: 
Thesis (M.A.)