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

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Narrative syncope: Affect, ethics, and fainting men in late-Victorian novels

Date created: 
2020-12-11
Abstract: 

This project investigates the significance of fainting men in late-Victorian novels. While fainting is supposedly a female phenomenon related to women’s fragility and emotional vulnerability, a large number of men swoon in Victorian novels. Fainting's form in these novels at the end of the century, I argue, reflects the emergence of materialist ideas about the brain and the nervous system’s importance to human consciousness and subjectivity. Fainting is a physiologically affective response, one that reveals the nonconscious, automatist, and animal part of every human—including men. Swooning in novels creates what I am calling narrative syncope. As a term, syncope is used across multiple discourses. In medicine, it refers to a loss of consciousness, and in grammar and music, it defines a gap, bridge, elision, or dysrhythmia. Through narrative syncope, late-Victorian novels engage not just the representation of fainting but also its novel form. That is, fainting’s affective and nonhuman character mirrors what we might call the affect of narrative form, including temporal disjunctions, shifting narrative perspectives, and gaps in linguistic meaning. While fainting men appear across Victorian literary genres and beyond, my focus in this dissertation is on three late-century novels: Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890), H. G. Wells’s The Time Machine (1895), and Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897). Each of the fainting men (and sometimes women) in these novels is struggling with the (im)possibilities of self-representation, as novelistic form turns from realist narration and towards an alienated and fragmented literary style. These men are, as Jacques Derrida would call them, autobiographical animals, whose nonhuman bodies and narratives both subvert and create the conditions for their subjectivity. Furthermore, as the nineteenth century struggled with the moral implications of materialism and Darwinism, these late-century novels offer a way to understand ethics as an embodied imperative. That is, affectively nonhuman bodies and narratives challenge the moral status of humans, while at the same time suggesting a greater ethical demand that emerges from the uncertain species status of the body. In exploring affective ethics in these novels, I follow Derrida’s conception of ethics as an impossible demand.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Margaret Linley
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of English
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

Repertoires for supporting sovereignty: The protocols for Native American archival materials and dance information in Vancouver

Author: 
Peer reviewed: 
No, item is not peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2020-07-27
Abstract: 

Repertoires for Supporting Sovereignty responds to the calls to action presented in the Protocols for Native American Archival Materials (PNAAM), which seeks to guide settler information communities towards building respectful relationships with Indigenous communities in order to enable Indigenous sovereignty over culture. My research focuses on how dance information, comprised of both archives and repertoires, is stewarded in Vancouver, and how such practices of stewardship can be transformed in order to respect PNAAM. To demonstrate how PNAAM might serve to inspire respectful information stewardship in Vancouver, I present two case studies that describe the transformative process I undertook with Vancouver-based collecting institutions. My research also engages with scholarly discussions at the cross-section of Information, Performance and Dance Studies. In particular, I draw upon these three fields of study to analyze the relationship of archives and repertoires, and I consider how this relationship continues to inform colonial cultural practices in Canada. I propose that PNAAM helps choreograph new affects, or emotions and embodied positions, that will help transform the stewardship of dance information in Vancouver. Although just a small action, PNAAM's influence will help counteract the impact of genocide in Canada and bring about new repertoires in support of Indigenous sovereignty.

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

NISHGA

Author: 
Peer reviewed: 
No, item is not peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2019-03-08
Abstract: 

NISHGA is a deeply personal and autobiographical book that attempts to address the complications of contemporary Indigenous existence. As a Nisga’a writer, I often find myself in a position where I am asked to explain my relationship to Nisga’a language, Nisga’a community, and Nisga’a cultural knowledge. However, as an intergenerational survivor of residential school—both my grandparents attended the same residential school in Chilliwack, British Columbia—my relationship to Indigenous identity is complicated to say the least. NISHGA explores those complications and is invested in understanding how the colonial violence originating at the Coqualeetza Indian Residential School impacted my grandparent’s generation, my father’s generation, and ultimately my own generation. The project is rooted in a desire to illuminate the realities of intergenerational survivors of residential school, but sheds light on Indigenous experiences that may not seem to be immediately (or inherently) Indigenous. Drawing on autobiography, a series of interconnected documents (including pieces of memoir, transcriptions of talks, and photography), NISHGA is a book about confronting difficult truths. NISHGA is also about how both Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples engage with a history of colonial violence that is quite often rendered invisible.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Stephen Collis
Sophie McCall
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of English
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.