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Research & Creative

"One thing that really stuck with me from my time in ComCult is the invitation to "follow the question" (in the words of Jacqui Alexander) when conducting social research. I found it liberating, and think I did better work, as a result of being encouraged to cross disciplinary boundaries in order to draw on the tools most effective in my line of inquiry, rather than being constrained from the start by a particular set of disciplinary assumptions and methodologies."

James Cairns , PhD Graduate

ComCult Scholarship: Examples of Recent Research Abstracts

We are proud of the quality of our student scholarship and academic achievements; Below is a sampling of recent student project abstracts. Many of the theses and dissertations are available through Library and Archives Canada>Theses Canada (external link) .

The Influence of Culture on Relationship Value in Social Media Platform Partnerships

Leonardo Amado Godoy; PhD 2024; Co-supervisord: Charles Davis and Donna Smith

Social media platforms benefit from organizational and technological partnerships that make them significant and impactful. The way business partners and the platform infrastructure they build impact and drive the process of platformization, as well as the implications for platform power, are made clear by these partnership exchanges. Platformization appears to be a disruptive force progressively transforming the world, its institutions, and people's lives. Culture exists in the collectives of people and institutions. Hofstede's concept of culture as the "mental programming or software of the mind" suggests that culture can be regarded as an individual's social identity. The primary objective of this project is to investigate how culture affects the value of relationships in B2B (business-to-business) partnerships. More precisely, partnerships with social media platforms from the perspective of partners. Two models are proposed: the first is based on Geert Hofstede's seminal work, while the second is based on Michael Minkov's revision of Hofstede's cultural scales. PLS-SEM is used to test hypotheses, and the outcomes show strong similarities between the two models. In both situations, trust and innovation mediate the influence of culture on relationship value rather than a direct effect. The most critical factors that impact this indirect influence are the platform's trustworthiness, availability of cost-reducing processes, access to new markets, and innovation acceleration. Culture; relationship value; trust; innovation; social media platforms; digital platform ecosystems.

The Virtual Capriccio: The Semiotics of Architecture in Digital Games

Gabriele Aroni; PhD 2020; Supervisor: Bruno Lessard

Digital games are among the most popular media on the planet, and billions of people inhabit such virtual worlds daily. Most of these worlds are made of virtual buildings, roads, and cities that players travel through. This dissertation aims to fill a gap in the game studies literature regarding the architecture of digital games, in terms of both its aesthetic aspect and its symbolic role as they relate to gameplay. It strives to answer the following questions: how does the design of virtual architecture influence gameplay and storytelling through its communicative aspect? How does digital architecture relate to real architecture? Where does the inspiration for digital games architecture come from? In order to answer these questions, this dissertation examines how architecture is used in digital games, how players interact with it, and what it communicates. The dissertation thus analyses the architecture of digital games through the lenses of semiotics and architecture theory, mainly the research pursued by Umberto Eco as regards the semiotics of architecture and by Brian Upton with his theory of “anticipatory play.” It presents case studies of digital games grouped in three categories: reconstructive, fantastic, and visionary. Reconstructive virtual architecture, as evidenced in Assassin’s Creed II (2009), aims to recreate existing locales, be they from the present or the past, with the intent to immerse the player in a simulated environment that is as close as possible to reality. Fantastic virtual architecture, represented by the Japanese game Final Fantasy XV (2016), is the category that arguably encompasses the vastest number of digital games, as it comprises the type of architecture designed to appear, if not realistic, at least plausible, and bears resemblance to real-world architecture. Finally, the category of visionary virtual architecture, as found in the independent game NaissanceE (2014), while still representing plausible and not completely abstract features, is meant to be perceived as an “impossible” construct. Through these case studies, the dissertation outlines how architecture plays a central role in digital games design, and proposes a semiotic framework for the analysis of virtual architecture that can be applied to the vast majority of digital games.

Mediated Landscapes: Technology and Environment in Recent Canadian Cinema

Daniel Browne; PhD 2020; Supervisor: Monique Tshofen

A central defining feature of the contemporary era is an environmental crisis that has been triggered by the relationship of human-developed technologies to the natural world, which is leading us towards conditions of increasing collapse that will impact all future understandings of our era’s cultural production and experience. This crisis has led many to propose that the planet has entered a new geologic epoch, the “Anthropocene,” in which boundaries between humanity, nature, and technology have become blurred and no longer viable. In this dissertation, I explore this ecological crisis as a manifestation of mythological and perceptual frameworks that structure contemporary modes of experience, by examining how Canadian filmmakers are responding to such conditions through their artworks. Drawing on Marshall McLuhan’s notion of art as a “counter-environment” that, in its most potent capacity, acts as a “liaison between biology and technology” ([1973] 2003a, 207) or “Distant Early Warning system,” I explore how many recent Canadian films prioritize process, hybridity, decay, and transmutation to reveal the environmental status of media, developing new myths and metaphors that address the crisis of imagination that I argue is at the root of the environmental crisis. Through these approaches, the binaries between humanity, technology, and nature are revealed as false dualisms that have always been united within a greater ecological matrix—an insight that reflects the holistic study of media developed by the Toronto School of Communication. The environmental crisis cannot be resolved through any singular response, but rather necessitates a proliferation of new forms of critical thought, empathy, and modes of experience. Accordingly, in this study I explore a range of aesthetic approaches to interrogate forms of critical visuality in cinema that articulate the environmental invisibility of media, including narrative, documentary, and experimental works. These examples are united by a framework that seeks to cultivate perceptual sensitivities through revelatory forms over discursive approaches. By revealing the strong affinities between Canadian art and critical theory, I demonstrate how cinema can provide a fertile terrain for critiquing technological environments and their influence upon notions of embodiment, the natural world, and the shaping force of language.

Dangerous Images: Photography, History, And Kashmir’s Insurgency

Nathaniel Brunt; PhD 2023; Supervisor: Arne Kislenko and Sarah Parsons

In India’s Kashmir Valley, formal institutional photographic archives centralizing and preserving historical visual material do not exist, and local archival and memorial efforts have been, and continue to be, routinely suppressed due to ongoing political issues in the region. In addition, negligence, fear, and the active destruction of material by agents on various sides of the over 30- year-long armed conflict have led to a large gap in the visual record of this history and the decentralization of material across various private holdings. Due to the traumatic rupture of daily life during the war and this lack of access to the past, local organizations, families, and individuals in Kashmir have often filled the evidential void by collecting diverse forms of historical material and preserving and disseminating it clandestinely through a variety of public and private means. Often stored in Kashmiris’ homes, ‘conflict’ images are a rare and valuable resource for history-making, individual and collective political expression, and a strategically critical cultural front within the competitive ecosystem of the insurgency. This dissertation examines the ‘archive’ of images that have emerged from this conflict and the ways Kashmiris, have navigated, constructed, memorialized, and mediated their experiences of the war through the medium of photography. This work emerges holistically from my own time engaging with, and sometimes participating in, these processes as a photojournalist, researcher, and archivist for over a decade. Organized as an analysis of photography’s role in the war’s information space and of two case studies focused on both Kashmiri combatants and non- combatants, this dissertation explores two generational phases of the insurgency, local political culture, and photographic practices in the region. With suppressed political agency and limited access to historical information about the conflict in Kashmir, photography provides a rich form of cultural material for Kashmiris to shape the representation of the history and temporality of the war in coherent material, visual, and mnemonic forms. Kashmir; documentary; photography; insurgency; history; memory

Queer Soccer Players: A Cross-Cultural Study of Soccer Cultures, Attitudes, Experiences, and Policies

Francesco Collura; PhD 2023; Supervisor: Nicole Neverson

This dissertation examines the cultural differences amongst and experiences of LGBTQ+ athletes in soccer and how exclusionary attitudes existing in the sport impact policy on LGBTQ+ athletes. The study compares and contrasts the cultural experiences of LGBTQ+ soccer players from a macro (global) and micro (local) lens, with a specific focus on soccer cultures in Italy, England, Canada, and the United States. The different levels of soccer (amateur, semi- professional, and professional) in these four locales, and the impact that policies have on LGBTQ+ inclusion, are analyzed. Queer theory, intersectionality, Gramsci’s theory of ideology and cultural hegemony, and Butler’s concept of gender performativity provide the framework for the examination of the lived realities of queer athletes across different sporting environments. Through an in-depth analysis of literature on queer athleticism, the dissertation considers the associated relationships between masculinity, homophobia, transphobia, intersectionality, cultural, social, and political views, media representation of LGBTQ+ athletes, athlete voices, and social change. A mixed methods explanatory sequential design was employed to analyze 19 policy documents, conduct seven informal phone calls about anti-discrimination and trans eligibility policies, administer 40 surveys with athletes who have played soccer around the world, and conduct 11 semi-structured interviews with soccer players at the amateur or semi- professional level in Ontario and the United States. A critical content analysis was then engaged to explore meaning and patterns that emerged from the different sets of data. Results suggest that education and policy reform are necessary to create an inclusive soccer environment. To uphold inclusive policy, sport governing bodies need to be held accountable and consider diverse and intersectional perspectives during the policy creation and development phase. Overall, this analysis is beneficial to soccer culture because it provides critically needed scholarly research that informs how soccer organizations, athletes, and leaders in the sport can remedy practices that hinder LGBTQ+ participation in soccer. LGBTQ+; Intersectionality; Policy; Culture; Soccer; Sports

Reading Fashion in the Corporate Archive: The Communication, Promotion and Collection of Dress at Eaton's

Myriam Couturier; PhD 2021; Supervisor: Alison Matthews David

The T. Eaton Co. (Eaton’s) department store operated in Canada between 1869 and 1999. A leading retailer for much of the twentieth century, it played a crucial role in the translation and dissemination of styles from abroad. This project investigates Canada’s early- to mid-twentieth- century fashion history using a selection of objects and media from the Eaton’s corporate archive, now held at the Archives of Ontario and the City of Toronto Museum Services. Through an interdisciplinary examination of these artifacts, this dissertation positions the corporate archive as a fashion collection with its own historical value: one that reveals the multiple processes of documentation, promotion, and interpretation that are central to fashion production. Based on a material analysis of garments and accessories, and a close reading of fashion documents and images produced and assembled by Eaton’s, it highlights various intersections of fashion, commerce, and communication within the department store. These corporate artifacts offer concrete evidence of how a prominent Canadian retailer shaped consumption in the country and attempted to define itself as a fashion authority and resource. The garments and accessories collected by Eaton’s—which range from the high-end to the ordinary—contain traces of their often-anonymous former owners and point to everyday forms of fashion consumption that have not been the subject of detailed academic study. A hybrid journal and catalogue published by the company in the 1920s and 30s borrowed the language of middlebrow fashion magazines to sell high-end European designs and their more affordable adaptations, while also deliberately positioning Eaton’s as a cosmopolitan destination in Toronto. Various office files, reports, and clippings illustrate how fashion was promoted and defined by the store, a process that involved multiple behind-the-scenes agents both within and outside the company. Fashion films produced by Eaton’s in the 1950s and 60s employed a visual style that combined the languages of high fashion photography and the department store display window, using specific selling narratives to train its staff and appeal to middle-class female consumers. Studied together, these archival fragments offer a unique perspective on historical fashion production and consumption in a Canadian context—located between the material and the discursive, the aspirational and the everyday. T. Eaton Co.; Canadian fashion; corporate archives; fashion communication; department stores; everyday dress; fashion film; fashion ephemera

Productive Discomfort: Canadian Hooked Rugs and the Pedagogy of Unwelcome Mats

Lauren Cullen; PhD 2022; Supervisor: Miranda Campbell

If the function of a welcome mat is to greet guests with niceties, what can an unwelcome mat offer? Common greetings like “welcome” and “home sweet home” can be found on the hooked rug objects placed on opposite sides of a doorway. However, anti-racist, anti-colonial and feminist queer crip perspectives remind us that objects and spaces are never truly welcoming to all. Spaces are not neutral and objects are not as benign as they may seem. Hooked rugs are commonly understood as a Canadian folk art medium, a cultural product and a process of making that emerged with the settlement of British colonisers and European immigrants beginning in the 18th century in Maine and Nova Scotia. This dissertation establishes how the material culture of rug hooking pedagogically contributes towards settler colonial logic and narratives. In addition to exploring how rug hooking maintains settler colonial values and myths, I examine how arts-based research methods and specifically research-creation uniquely respond to and interrogate the colonial conventions found in rug hooking cultures. Through the development and facilitation of a rug hooking exhibition featuring seven “unwelcome” rugs, this dissertation considers the potential of textile-based craft in drawing attention to how settler societies operate, and what confrontation and discomfort look like within the feminised and informal space of craft. I posit the practice of socially based craft within a larger conversation of research-creation in the social sciences and humanities, and contribute to the theorization of artistic ways of knowing. The project also includes a zine intended to be circulated amongst rug hooking communities and shares critical reflections about Canadian rug hooking. Through the research process two key findings emerged: providing resources and paying people to learn craft is critical, and additionally the social space of craft is a place for critical learning informed by collaboration and co-making. A central argument this dissertation posits is that the culture and social practice of rug hooking can reflect and circulate myths and doctrines related to the settlement of Canada and simultaneously operates as a site of resistance against colonial power and logic. Rug hooking, critical craft theory, social craft, research-creation, pedagogy

Never Grow Up: The Queerness Of Immaturity In American Film

Lauren Davine; PhD 2018; Supervisor: John McCullough

This dissertation examines the contradictory status of immaturity in our culture. While immaturity’s otherness to heteronormative adulthood is a source of fear and anxiety, this otherness is also what makes it desirable–that is, immaturity represents an escape from the pressures and standards of adulthood, signifying an oppositional subjectivity reminiscent of youthful rebellion. Indeed, the oppositional nature of immaturity is ultimately what gives it power as a source of political agency. Rather than seeing immaturity as something to be ashamed of, or as something to be avoided or defeated, this dissertation, following Judith/Jack Halberstam, views immaturity as a powerful form of resistance as well as a queer “way of being.” In fact, these two latter elements–resistance and queerness–go hand-in-hand; queerness within this project is primarily understood as an uncompromising “resistance to regimes of the normal,” specifically those pertaining to maturity and success. Beginning with a focus on male immaturity, I establish the fear/desire dynamic characterizing the immature male through close readings of the 1950s male-centered melodrama, combined with an historically-oriented analysis of postwar American culture. Next, I examine how comedy and dramedy films about childish men from the 1980s to the present day are also structured by this contradictory dynamic, as they both resist and reinforce heteronormative adulthood. My textual analysis of these films are grounded in theories of queer temporality. Finally, I focus on the female counterpart to the immature male, examining various constructions of female immaturity in recent cinema. Here, I utilize a broader range of queer temporal theories to demonstrate the political potential of immature womanhood, where “immature” gains agency through its queer and feminist resistance to the tyranny of heteronormative adulthood. While this dissertation ultimately seeks to demonstrate how immaturity functions as a site of resistance to (hetero)normativity, it also acknowledges how it can (specifically in the context of male homosociality), reinforce and reproduce oppressive structures, further underlining immaturity’s incongruous status.

Mind the Gap: Exploring the Experiences of Diasporic Media Producers and Representations of Cultural Diversity in Canada

Paul De Silva; PhD 2018; Supervisor: Lila Pine

Prime-time narrative is the most watched and influential genre of television. It creates a sense of belonging and contributes to identity formation. It also receives the largest amount of publicly mandated funding in the form of investment, subsidies, and tax incentives in Canada. Anecdotal and empirical evidence suggests that despite legislation requiring equitable representation in all aspects of screen media, and over thirty years of many “special initiatives” and training and mentorship programs, little progress has been made in the area of equitable representation in narrative programming. This dissertation investigates the representation of diasporic people of colour in the screen-media industry in Canada. In particular, it studies how “authentic voices” from these communities are finding expression in the area of prime-time television narrative programming (scripted comedy and drama) and feature films, which ultimately find their largest audiences in broadcast screen platforms on television and increasingly via the Internet. The focus is on the legislative frameworks pertaining to the reflection of “diasporic communities of colour” in the production of screen media, specifically for prime-time broadcast in narrative, or what is referred to in the industry as “scripted programming,” as well as on the current realities faced by creators of screen media from diasporic communities of colour in telling their stories in this arena. Through a case study of the television series Little Mosque on the Prairie, it examines the issues that affect the expression of “authentic voice” from individuals who have had the opportunity to work in the area of narrative screen media in the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Canada’s public broadcaster, which has as one of its key priorities the reflection of the cultural diversity of Canada. The issues involved in the production of feature films by diasporic people of colour is examined through a case study of the film Heaven on Earth, written and directed by Indo-Canadian filmmaker Deepa Mehta. Mehta’s film presents a unique situation in which the filmmaker, due to the previous international success of her film Water, was able to access the financial resources to produce the film in Canada and maintain her “authentic voice” without mediation in the production from external players. Part of this case study includes a documentary film featuring an interview with Deepa Mehta conducted in 2017 about her film Heaven on Earth.

Starving for Justice: Teen Action Heroines and the Logic of Anorexia

Emma Dunn; PhD 2019; Supervisor: Irene Gammel

Marshalling evidence from critical feminist studies of eating disorders (Bordo; Malson and Burns; Warin), including Leslie Heywood’s concept of anorexic “logic,” this dissertation theorizes how anorexic rationality and subjectivity are expressed through the popular figure of the post-feminist action heroine, specifically within young adult (YA) speculative fiction franchises. Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight novels (2005-2008), Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games series (2008-2010), and Veronica Roth’s Divergent trilogy (2011-2013) serve as the primary, and I argue ideal case studies for this investigation. Emerging as top-selling YA series in the post-Harry Potter era, all three franchises feature teen girl protagonists with post-feminist “sensibility” (Gill), and with their mass appeal, have given rise to global fandoms. Hence, this project also examines reader responses to the series under discussion through a selection of online fan fiction in which female-identifying youth rewrite their protagonists as anorexic. Although media studies scholars have analyzed the gendered discourses surrounding contemporary female action heroes (Inness; Brown; Wright), and feminist literary scholars have explored how motifs of weight, starvation and consumption function within certain narratives (Daniel; Ellmann; Karlin; Meuret; Silver), the correlation between anorexia and action heroine texts has yet to be systematically studied. This investigation is all the more crucial given Parliament of Canada’s 2014 report, Eating Disorders Among Girls and Women in Canada, which notes that eating disorders have the highest mortality rates of all mental illnesses. Responding to the report’s call for increased research on media messaging aimed at youth, this dissertation focuses on mass media franchises targeted at girls and young women, the largest demographic of eating disorder sufferers, arguing that contemporary teen action heroine mythology reflects and reifies a problematic value system that mutually constitutes conceptions of starvation and justice, and informs the social construction of ideal femininity. This research thus forges new pathways between theories of girlhood, body image studies, and YA literature to offer a theoretical framework for reading female heroism that places the corporeal matrix of gender, consumption, and embodiment at its centre.

Isolated Circuits: Human Experience and Robot Design for the Future of Loneliness

Lauren Dwyer; PhD 2023; Supervisor: Frauke Zeller

The following dissertation considers the role of lived experiences in the technology design process. Using an interdisciplinary human-machine communication framework, it highlights lived experiences of loneliness and the present and future role they may play in the design of social companion robots. Following an interdisciplinary framework requires a critical stance on technology. This dissertation considers the systemic factors contributing to issues of access and disparities in the impact of both loneliness and technology. This work uses a mixed methodological approach of surveys, expert interviews, and interviews with individuals who have lived experiences with loneliness. The literature review examines the areas of loneliness, social companion robotics, and human-machine communication. These fields are considered by their key terms and definitions, pressing challenges, and practical applications. The operational definition of loneliness in this dissertation is an experience of a lack or loss of meaningful connection. Research questions consider the main insights at the intersection between technology, design, communication, and loneliness and the role of technology and users’ experiences. Next, user needs and widespread design features are differentiated and determined. Finally, questions discuss the theme of managing user expectations and considering current technological competencies. Four hypotheses come from the literature review and open a discussion of the potential for this technology, the input of users, impacts of prior user experiences with robots, and the perceptions of robots as being suitable for others (such as the elderly or those with disabilities) but not necessarily needed for the participants themselves. Findings from the survey are combined with a phenomenological analysis to suggest that social companion robots can be a facilitating tool for mitigating negative experiences rather than replacing human connection. Emergent findings suggest that loneliness is not a ”bad thing” but rather a necessary part of the human experience that acknowledges a need, similar to hunger. Combining the fields of loneliness, social companion robots, and human-machine communication, the connections between these different fields establish a new perspective on an ancient experience. Keywords: Loneliness; Human-Machine Communication; Communication; Social Robotics; Companion Robots; Interdisciplinary Studies

Gamification: the magic circle of technology

Lyuba Encheva; PhD 2017; Supervisor: Isabel Pedersen

In recent years gamification has emerged as a design trend in customer relationship management, marketing, education and governance. It promotes the use of game design principles in the organization of every day environments, tasks and interactions. As an offspring of advanced communication technologies, gamification relies on the unhindered use of networked devices that transforms every experience into a user experience. Borrowing on the ubiquitous popularity of video games, the premise of gamification is the technologically enabled relationship between virtual causes and real-life effects, and its promise - a mutually beneficial coordination of corporate and personal interest. This dissertation outlines the socio-political implications of the concept of gamification through a critical examination of its content and intended meanings. The unpacking of gamification as an aspiration and a worldview reveals that as soon as we take for granted the equality of the sign and the signified, we also accept that life experiences do not exceed the signs we use to describe them. Therefore, to play life as a game, as gamifiers urge, is to live life by design. The definition I coin considers gamification from the perspective of political consequences, rather than practical application and mechanics. I work towards this definition by focusing on the rhetoric of gamification as an expressed intention that constructs motives and renegotiates beliefs. Hence, the theoretical model I apply draws on the work of two major theorists. American rhetorician and philosopher Kenneth Burke offers a theoretical apparatus for the study of the form and rhetorical devices of addressed messages. French semiotician and social theorist, Jean Baudrillard, informs the deconstruction of the claims gamification makes. The treatment of language as intention and action that is necessarily subjective and interested, offers a liminal stand-point from where the vision of a gamified world can be seen as an ideology which normalises itself by rhetorical means. Thus, I propose that the concept of gamification, whether applied in practice or not, is a political act. It constructs an ideology that seeks to reconcile the myth of the sacrosanct freedom of the Western individual with the constant imposition of corporate and government demands for compliance, accountability and efficiency.

Inverting the Algorithmic Gaze: Confronting Platform Power Through Media Artworks

Craig Fahner; PhD 2023; Supervisor: Evan Light

This dissertation looks to further the study of networked digital communication by centring material engagement and creative reconstitution as primary methods for the excavation of critical knowledge around platforms and algorithms. Platforms, which have become ubiquitous digital intermediaries in everyday life, are emblematic of the “control societies” described by Gilles Deleuze, in which electronic systems establish mechanisms of power and control that are both pervasive and inscrutable. Monopolistic digital platforms position the public in a highly asymmetrical relationship, in which users know very little about the processes by which algorithmic systems capture subjects through what I have termed “the algorithmic gaze”: a process in which individuals are quantified and commodified according to the ever-expanding imperative of platforms to capture as much data as possible. The inscrutable nature of platforms and their algorithms demands innovative methods to unravel and analyse the cultural and political effects of platforms. This dissertation argues that conventional analyses of platform capitalism are strengthened through material encounters with algorithmic systems. By “opening up” platforms through creative reconstitution, new perspectives are gained on algorithms and their operation as political artefacts. Furthermore, I argue that the creation of artworks that reconstitute algorithmic technologies towards experiences that reveal, rather than conceal, the politics of platforms can serve as effective instruments for expanding critical literacy around digital technologies outside of a specialist context. Through the creation of a series of projects that confront the politics of platforms, this dissertation considers how media artworks might challenge existing imaginaries around platforms and algorithms, by engendering critical perspectives on platform capitalism and representing alternative models that resist the tendencies of the control society. Digital humanities, New media, Philosophy of technology, Surveillance studies, Media art, Research-creation

Frozen Out: Audiences, Affect and Women's Hockey

Donna Gall; PhD 2019; Supervisor: Jean Bruce

Every four years, millions of Canadians watch women play hockey during the Olympics. Yet when it comes to regularly scheduled professional games, that audience dramatically decreases. In 2019, low audience numbers led to the closure of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League and put the future of professional women’s hockey in jeopardy. As with many women’s sports, broadcasters argue the cost of production is too great, the value of airtime minutes too high to take the financial risk of televising the women’s game without guaranteeing viewers for advertisers. Activists and athletes argue that the audience must be built through broadcaster investment. While scholars have examined hockey for its representational power to define national and gendered identities, there has been shockingly little research into the hockey audience. This mixed method audience reception study seeks to explore the viewing inconsistencies of the audience for women’s hockey. Quantitative results from an online survey (n =685) provided data about viewing habits, perceptions and knowledge. This data informed qualitative focus groups (n = 25) that in turn provided contextualization and reasoning for the quantitative data. Mixed method analysis intersected grounded theory with audience reception, sport media, feminist studies and affect theory to identify a persistent discursive strategy framing women’s hockey as “pure” for resisting the crass commercialization, incessant violence and individualistic star system of professional men’s hockey. I argue that women’s hockey becomes the manifestation of the Canadian myth of hockey; men’s hockey as it used to be. As a nostalgic placeholder devoid of context, contemporary women’s hockey functions within a double bind; virtuous and elevated yet non-viable as a commercial enterprise. This ensures that the sport remains precarious at best. “Pure” women’s hockey also functions as a postfeminist essentializing discourse that solves the gender risk of hockey’s hypermasculinity while disavowing women’s physically aggressive play and sport media’s affective currency. Whereas Olympic women’s hockey relies on patriotic pride for audience affective engagement, professional women’s hockey is framed by cognitive contradictions, “pure” but commercial, gender normative but transgressive. Confused and disconnected from the game and players, audiences are left unaffected.

Sustainable Fashion Consumption: Themes, Segmentation, and Paths to Sustainable Values and Behaviours

Shelley Haines; PhD 2023; Supervisor: Seung Hwan (Mark) Lee

This dissertation comprises three interconnected studies that aim to advance our understanding of sustainable fashion consumption. Study 1 conducted a systematic literature review, identifying four key themes: Design, Messaging, Customer, and Disposal, and developed a comprehensive framework for sustainable fashion consumption. The identified themes highlight the cyclical nature of sustainable fashion consumption and the shared responsibility of citizens, companies, and governments to drive positive change. Building upon the Customer theme, Study 2 utilized consumer segmentation to explore emotional and shopping characteristics driving sustainable fashion consumption, revealing three distinct consumer segments: Distressed and Self-Oriented, Warm and Thrifty, and Cold and Frivolous. These segments underscore the heterogeneity of sustainable fashion consumers and their motivations. Study 3 extended the findings of Study 2 by investigating the relationship between self-oriented, hedonic tendencies and sustainable values and behaviours. The study revealed that hedonic tendencies are negatively associated with sustainable values but positively associated with sustainable behaviours through the need for uniqueness. These findings challenge existing definitions of sustainable behaviour and emphasize the importance of recognizing both direct and indirect sustainable behaviours. With this broader understanding of sustainable fashion consumption, researchers, organizations, and companies can capture the diverse ways individuals engage in sustainable fashion. This dissertation also acknowledges the complex systems that underlie the fashion industry, such as consumerism and conspicuous consumption, which perpetuate the creation, distribution, use, and disposal of environmentally and socially detrimental products. Addressing these systemic issues requires a reconceptualization of the fashion industry, fostering a more sustainable and equitable future. Overall, this research contributes insights into sustainable fashion consumption. By considering the interplay between themes, consumer segments, and the relationship between hedonic tendencies and sustainable values and behaviours, this research provides pathways for fostering more environmentally and socially responsible fashion consumption practices. sustainable fashion consumption, consumer behaviour, consumer segmentation, sustainable values, sustainable behaviours, fashion industry


Charlene Heath; PhD 2023; Supervisor: Sarah Parsons

Jo Spence’s work contributed to the multiple, yet marginalized voices using documentary photography as a critique of modernism in the context of socialist-feminism and the New Left in England in the 1970s. Spence and her primary collaborator, Terry Dennett, intentionally created and shaped their archive in London in the 1970s and 1980s as a resource for collaborative action—an ‘alternative institution’ that grew out of the 1960s and was characterized by political and ideological forms of opposition to dominant culture. While archives traditionally function as places where documents from the past go to be stored, preserved and sometimes forgotten, they also legitimize dominant sets of values regarding what does, or does not, constitute the historical record. The central concerns of my dissertation ask how social discourses of the Art world, namely commercial galleries and institutional museum practices, have muted the radical impulse behind the photographic work of Spence, Dennett and their collaborators? Additionally, it poses the question of whether formal archiving can preserve the anti-institutional motivation in Spence’s radical documentary photography, and if so, what strategies of engagement are necessary for doing so? Beyond mere preservation, my methods of archival approach demonstrate how archival work can be utilized to rearticulate the polemic is Spence’s work in repositories holding elements of her Memorial Archive. The discursive context and function behind maintaining a repository in Spence’s name was to preserve and provide access for future political work. Therefore, archiving its material must account for and decipher the polemic contours of the material and render it legible in the institutions holding the archive today. By examining two key projects as case studies as well as two elements of the largest repository of the Jo Spence Memorial Archive at The Image Centre at Toronto Metropolitan University, my dissertation considers not only photography’s place within the polemics of 1970s and ‘80s Britain, but also whether its impact endures. First, it accounts for what made Spence’s practice radical; that is, how she borrowed from the worker photography movement of the 1920s and ‘30s to situate her work between the realms of socialist-feminist activism and Art. Secondly, my dissertation underscores the critical importance of understanding that Spence was not a self- proclaimed ‘artist’ first; she was initially known as a professional studio photographer in the 1960s and early 1970s, then an activist, educator, writer, community organizer and socialist- feminist in the 1970s and ‘80s. Only over the last two decades has she become widely known in the Art world especially for her photo therapy work made in the 1980s –work made with numerous individuals who collaborated with her in various ways circulating work that was made for multiple uses in various innovative formats. By extension, the third aspect my dissertation addresses Spence’s work in its contemporary institutionalized contexts and highlights that once institutionalized, the tactile, hands-on use value of it is lost to the logic of museum protocol, institutional handling and preservation practices. This aspect therefore mobilizes methods of archival engagement that function as a strategy to tip the scale that gives disproportionate weight to her work as newly discovered within categories of feminist Art and ‘postmodernism.’

Popular materials: late-Victorian illustrated magazines and the technological imagination

Alison Hedley; PhD 2017; Supervisor: Lorraine Janzen Kooistra

How did the multimodal aesthetics of popular illustrated periodicals shape late-Victorian reader engagement? How did these terms of engagement relate to the role magazines played in emerging mass culture? My dissertation investigates these questions using evidence from four popular periodicals between 1885 and 1918: the Graphic, the Illustrated London News, Pearson’s Magazine, and the Strand. Readers possessed a print media literacy through which they could interpret the material traces of production that were part of a periodical’s aesthetics and situate a print object in its real and imagined socio-technological contexts, a capacity I describe as the technological imagination. Print media literacy also enabled readers to attend to how a physical print object mediated culture, which I describe as medial awareness. Combining close reading with historical contextualization and a media archaeological emphasis on materiality, I analyze aesthetic characteristics of these four illustrated magazines that influenced reader engagement by invoking readers’ technological imagination. At the turn of the century, the Illustrated London News and other popular illustrated magazines underwent what Gaudreault and Marion would call a “second birth,” repositioning themselves within the era’s new media milieu. The increasingly visual and multimodal aesthetics of these periodicals engaged readers’ technological imagination and drew their attention to mediation itself. Using de Certeau’s theory of strategy and tactic, I argue that periodical producers strategically invoked the technological imagination to acquire cultural authority, but readers could use their medial awareness to poach producer techniques, becoming critical and productive agents of mass culture. In news weeklies such as the Illustrated London News and the Graphic, advertisers encouraged readers to conflate reading and consumption, but readers could appropriate advertising strategies using curatorial and hyper-reading tactics. In monthlies such as Pearson’s, population journalism prompted readers to conceptualize themselves using a “biopolitical” rubric of normalization, in Foucault’s sense, but this genre’s spectacular strategies created space for readers to exert tactical agency. In “Curiosities,” a participatory feature in the Strand, readers used the technological imagination to appropriate multimodal magazine production and contribute to what Flichy terms the “socio-technical frame of reference” for the hand camera. As “Curiosities” demonstrates, late-Victorian illustrated periodicals influenced the terms of user engagement for twentieth- and twenty-first-century mass media.

Chasing the mainstream: Corporate social advocacy and online content governance

Steph Hill; PhD 2022; Supervisor: Jeremy Shtern

Expectations that commercial actors will act responsibly and for the public good have precipitated a growing number of public controversies as companies either line up to demonstrate their commitment by taking sides on a social issue or are forced to respond to public pressure. These controversies can have knock-on effects for the governance of content and expression, as what is tolerated can easily shift in the face of the intense public criticism that surrounds these controversies. Media and communications research has speculated on the role of the profit-motive in content moderation on social media but there are gaps in research directly addressing how the advertising industry attempts to institutionalize its interests in appropriate content, as well as in research extending the examination of professional communications beyond advertising-supported media to the wider environment of online content moderation. Given the high stakes of public interventions by commercial actors, a better understanding of their motivations and the regulatory implications of their actions is needed. This dissertation responds to the questions, what motivates corporate social advocacy? How does information circulate in advocacy events? What issues are compatible with corporate social advocacy? And what role does corporate social advocacy play towards governing online content? To answer these questions, it analyzes three public controversies over online content, representing the advertising-supported environment of social media and non-advertising supported environments such as online infrastructure services and gaming and provides a thematic analysis of the professional communications industry perspective on social advocacy controversy. It takes a framework based in a functional public sphere and draws on theories of economies of worth to position corporate social advocacies as “tests of justification” that are revealing of the normative standards applied to commercial advocacy and governance of content. It finds that while controversies can push companies beyond “owned” issues and change the treatment of certain content, the resource intensive and publicly damaging nature of the controversies incentivise controversy-averse approach to moderation, which can chill the creation of content seen as outside the mainstream. Corporate social responsibility, content moderation, strategic communication, advertising, internet governance.

The Iconic Muslim Superhero: Muslim Female Audience Perspectives of Marvel’s Muslim Superheroines

Safiyya Hosein; PhD 2021; Supervisor: Steven Bailey

This dissertation critiques the construction of the American Muslim female superhero where Muslim identity is treated as an intersectional identity. It incorporates critical race theory, postcolonial feminism, affect theory, audience studies, postfeminism, and feminist comic studies. While American Muslim superheroes have existed for many decades, their representation flourished during the War on Terror. I first position the Muslim female superhero in the current social and geopolitical context in the West by discussing the underpinnings of the imperialist project in her construction. In the process, I discuss the ways she emphasizes Western exceptionalism and white male saviorism; and its implications for Muslim masculinities by depicting them as savage oppressors of women in comics written by White, non-Muslim men. I examine the attempts of Muslim writers to rehabilitate these images in the Ms.Marvel comic series, ending with a discussion for the potential of both these gendered representations in my Conclusion. The field of Muslim audience studies has been overlooked in scholarship despite the increase in negative representations of Muslims in Western media. This study contributes to that understudied area with an audience study examining young adult female Muslim perspectives of three Muslim superheroines – Sooraya Qadir (Dust), Monet St.Croix (M), and Kamala Khan (Ms.Marvel). If we analyze the conditions of possibility that led to an influx of American Muslim superheroes during the War on Terror, it becomes clear that the Muslim superheroine has two functions. For dominant audiences, she alleviates white guilt when we consider the increase in state violence committed against Muslims during this war. But for Muslim audiences who are frustrated with Orientalist depictions of them, she provides relief from these depictions, making their reactions an affective phenomenon. Because participants viewed their religious identity in conjunction with their racial, sexual, gendered, and cultural identity, I provide a critique of Arab Muslim femininity through emphasizing Black, South Asian, and LGBTQ Muslim identity. Finally, I discuss gendered Muslim identity in superhero comics through analyses of Islamic wear as costumes, and class representations of Muslim men. Muslim superheroes, Muslim femininities, Muslim masculinities, Muslim feminists, feminist audience studies, feminist comic studies, Western exceptionalism, white saviourism

Making identity and community: An exploration into the interfaces and interactions in online digital games

Christopher Hugelmann; PhD 2024; Supervisor: Bruno Lessard

Digital games have become the predominant form of entertainment, becoming a part of most people’s lives at one point or another. These games are an excellent vantage point to observe how social life happens through the creation and building up of virtual worlds in the game. How can the design of these games allow or restrict the ways that players can create themselves in- game and how they socially interact? This project examines the design of user interfaces within online digital games, and specifically within the massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) genre. Through an autoethnographic examination of many popular MMORPGs, as well as a research-creation element that consists of prototype interfaces, an analysis of character creation interfaces (CCIs) and guild / party creation interfaces is conducted. From this analysis, a list of heuristics – best practices in design – are created to enable further iteration and reuptake of the interfaces created within this dissertation. Overall, many current interfaces are drastically limiting the ways that players can present themselves in-game, as well as restrict the ways in which socialization happens between players. This research addresses a critical gap in the understanding of digital game production and opens the door for further exploration of interfaces in digital games, further solidifying the researcher as creator through the production of prototyped interfaces within the Unity game engine. The usage of research-creation as a methodology, as well as autoethnography further pushes against normative ideas surrounding epistemology, and offers a compelling perspective on identity, community, design, and game production. Research-creation; games; autoethnography; interfaces.

Brutal Aesthetics and the Visual Economy of Digital Black Death

Nataleah Hunter-Young; PhD 2022; Supervisor: May Friedman and Christina Sharpe

“Brutal Aesthetics and the Visual Economy of Digital Black Death,” considers the social and cultural impacts of social media videos documenting anti-Black police brutality through the discursive interpretations of three Black visuals artists in Canada, the USA, and South Africa. The interviewed artists—Anique Jordan, Cameron Granger, and Sethembile Msezane—are positioned within the study as both creative practitioners and theorists of visual communication. Our discussions act as entry points to analyse how this violent imagery has come to be installed in the everyday, accelerating a globalizing naturalization of anti-Black state violence. Guided by the work of Caribbean theorist Sylvia Wynter, this dissertation considers what each artist's creative text does rather than what it can be interpreted to mean, a method for identifying how these artworks act visually on the audience-spectator already attuned to the mundane violence of white supremacy. This SSHRC CGS and Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation funded research project extends the work of critical aesthetic theory to read the ways the accelerated naturalization of anti-Black state violence via state-corporate digital media surveillance works on popular perception to make Black death make sense. In evaluation of the imagery’s visual and political economies, this project identifies what we can learn by studying the aesthetics of everyday life and what artists can teach us about how to look differently.

Black Women Writers: Newspapers, Expressive Cultures, and Organizing, 1890s–1910s in English Canada

Emilie-Andrée Jabouin; PhD 2024; Supervisor: Cheryl Thompson

My dissertation, “Black Women Writers: Newspapers, Expressive Cultures, and Organizing, 1890s–1910s in English Canada,” articulates black women’s intellectual histories and contributions as they appeared in the Black Press, particularly in the Canadian Observer (1914– 1919) and the Atlantic Advocate (1915 & 1917) between the 1890s and the 1910s in English- language Canada. It examines different forms of intellectual production and feminist critique of patriarchy and white supremacy that black women created, such as short fiction, recipes, historical biographies, photographic portraits, and advertisements—all of which comprise black women’s intellectual contributions. I ask, what can the study of the Canadian Observer and the Atlantic Advocate tell us about black life between 1914–1917? Given that the work of black women writers of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries was preserved in the pages of archived black newspapers, how do these women show up, and what were their contributions? Through the lens of black feminist and cultural studies theorists, I foreground terms such as “Afro-Northern-ness” to discuss the creole nature of black communities in Canada, particularly in Ontario, where African Americans, West Indians, and African Canadians migrated and created a particular geography of safety, financial prosperity, care, and ideas. Black women in Canada in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries had an early black feminist tradition of writing and preserving black history and their stories through non-traditional texts that expressed black women’s rich lives. Through these, they expressed and asserted liberating narratives of their fundamental roles as pillars of the community, their creole identities and cultural influence, their human-ness, and their ability to be savvy New Negro women entrepreneurs. Thematically, the dissertation makes connections between an early black feminist writing tradition, agency/visibility, the Black Press and newspapers, and Afro-Northern experiences that center black women in order to make a case about how black women expressed liberation. Black women; Newspaper archives; the Black Press; New Negro Movement; Expressive cultures; Intellectual histories; Afro-Northern geographies, Journalism

Abu Ghraib and the commemorative violence of war trophy photography

Joey Jakob; PhD 2017; Supervisor: Paul Moore

The photographs from the Abu Ghraib scandal are horrific, but they are also understandable. Simply put, the Abu Ghraib photos are purposeful compositions that highlight victory over the enemy Other in war. The photos illustrate sexual and racial violence, founded upon postcolonial narratives, but this is only a starting point for their significance. I address how meaning is made for the U.S. military personnel who took photographs of naked Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib, by looking backward to soldiers’ photography from WWI and II, and by considering soldiers’ online sharing of photographs in the present, examining roughly fifty photos total. The relationships between photographic materiality, emotional and gestural communication, and the production of cultural memory, disseminated via networked circulation, all shape how soldiers’ wartime photographs come to be regarded. Employing an interdisciplinary approach, this research draws upon war photography; visual culture and communication; sociology of groups and ritual; sociology of emotion; combat histories; memory studies; and online photo sharing practices. In so considering, the Abu Ghraib photos are not unique, and are instead grouped within the greater concept of the “war trophy.” I expand on this concept by defining “war trophy photography” as the entwined practices of war photography and trophy collection, rooted in ritual and group solidification. Staged to depict the violent conquering of the enemy, I argue that war trophy photography recognizes war efforts through the construction of a visual record, one that reproduces relations of dominance and submission. I call this representation “commemorative violence,” a central concept I develop to define the war trophy photograph. In addition to grounding the Abu Ghraib photos historically, I review their visual semiotic, cultural significance, such as with the “Doing a Lynndie” meme, which features civilians gesturing in thumbs-up toward a downtrodden individual, copying the same gesture as often used in the images from Abu Ghraib, and the now defunct site “Now That’s Fucked Up,” which briefly allowed soldiers in 2005 to trade gruesome war trophy pictures for pornography. The conclusion reflects on war trophy photography with the topical consideration of drones, ultimately suggesting that drone warfare photos are expressionless because of the overt absence of people.

Older patient-physician communication: an examination of the tensions of the patient-centred model within a biotechnological context

Catherine Jenkins; PhD 2016; Supervisor: Steve Bailey

Drawing on existing theoretical work, as well as field research, this dissertation examines the impact of medical imaging technologies on communication between physicians and older patients when diagnostics often privilege disembodied data over the patient voice. Current diagnostic trends are contextualized within the history of medicine, from Ancient Greece to the present, including the development of imaging. Since the 1970s, advanced medical imaging technologies (e.g., ultrasound, computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging) have become the diagnostic norm in Western medicine. The rapidity of this shift, which renders the human body as flattened data, can outstrip considerations of the implications of applying such technologies to living patients. Focusing on older patients, who may be less technologically savvy than younger patients or medical professionals, the field research begins with semi-structured interviews of patients over age sixty-five, exploring their encounters with medical imaging equipment and professionals. This data is interrogated qualitatively using Foucauldian discourse analysis drawing on Andrea Doucet’s model of slow scholarship, and informed by Arthur Frank’s notion of letting stories breathe; themes were allowed to surface from the patients’ narratives, rather than imposed by the researcher. Information emerging from the data considers patients’ emotions, unexpected physical sensations, communicative strategies and rationalizations, as well as Foucauldian allusions to power. Observational research was also conducted during encounters between physicians and simulated patients in the presence of medical images; these encounters were followed by reflective exit interviews. Research indicates that although physicians are increasingly trained in patient-centred communication, it is not always optimally practised. Physicians are sometimes more comfortable with the medical discourse of disease than with the emotional, metaphoric language of the patient’s illness experience. Since the development of modern Western medicine in Europe of the late 1700s, physicians have been trained to seek pathology, with the increasing aid of medical technologies, rather than listening to their patients. For older patients, who may experience multiple co-morbidities, the lack of communication around advanced medical technologies can increase their sense of vulnerability and anxiety. The dissertation concludes with recommendations for both patients and practitioners to improve communication in the medical context.

Writing intellectual disability: glimpses into precarious processes or re/making a cultural phenomenon

Chelsea Jones; PhD 2016; Supervisor: Anne MacLennan

We make each other mean through precarious processes of engagement. This dissertation posits intellectual disability as a modernist subject category characterized by un-belonging and a presumed lack of normative expression. The author takes a hesitant, interpretive, and phenomenological approach to confronting the question of what it means to re/make intellectual disability as presence and process rather than as problem. The researcher engages with intellectual disability by introducing expressive writing as method under a feminist post structuralist framework of exploratory, relational ethics. In doing so, this project introduces the concepts of wonderment and triple-labelling to the fields of cultural studies and critical disability studies. This work advocates for a reorientation toward meaning-making and research-based engagement with intellectual disability as cultural, contextual, and relational phenomenon that remains unsettled as it situates researchers at a perceived limit of knowledge. This dissertation privileges process over resolution. The writing launches from an affect-laden epistemology of wonderment, and thus struggles to resolve its own ethical and methodological uncertainty as it attempts to center intellectual disability without (completely)privileging normative ways of un/knowing. This approach allows that the body is implicated in uncertain discursive processes that re-construct and circulate meanings about the body, the self,and the Other. Then, relying on Foucault’s conceptions of power and knowledge and Snyder and Mitchell's cultural location of disability framework, the study describes Western cultural memory: processes of mind/body splitting and subject-category building traceable through esoteric pre-modernity, eugenic modernity, and the post-identity politics of Davis’s dismodernity. A discussion of research ethics follows, which challenges rational methodological conceptions of intellectual disability that rely on preconceived notions of vulnerability. Before describing expressive writing as a primary research method, the author also makes a case for engaging with triple-labeled people (those labeled disabled, vulnerable, and incompetent) by writing in-relation-to, privileging silence and absence over “giving voice,” engaging in unfamiliarity and untranslatability, and attending to “the space between” the self and the Other.This writing uses reflexive vignettes and critical analysis to lead readers toward the researcher’s final phenomenological reflections on experiences with triple-labeled people writing in a Toronto day program.

Distributing productive play: A materialist analysis of Steam

Daniel Joseph; PhD 2017; Supervisor: Jennifer Jenson

Valve Corporation’s digital game distribution platform, Steam, is the largest distributor of games on personal computers, analyzed here as a site where control over the production, design and use of digital games is established. Steam creates and exercises processes and techniques such as monopolization and enclosure over creative products, online labour, and exchange among game designers. Stuart Hall’s encoding/decoding framework places communication at the centre of the political economy, here of digital commodities distributed and produced by online platforms like Steam. James Gibson’s affordance theory allows the market Steam’s owners create for its users to be cast in terms of visuality and interaction design. These theories are largely neglected in the existing literature in game studies, platform studies, and political economy, but they allow intervention in an ongoing debate concerning the ontological status of work and play as distinct, separate human activities by offering a specific focus on the political economy of visual or algorithmic communication. Three case studies then analyze Steam as a site where the slippage between game-play and work is constant and deepening. The first isolates three sales promotions on Steam as forms of work disguised as online shopping. The second is a discourse analysis of a crisis within the community of mod creators for the game Skyrim, triggered by changes implemented on Steam. The third case study critiques Valve Corporation’s positioning of Steam as a new space to extract value from play by demonstrating historical continuity with consumer monopolies. A concluding discussion argues Steam is a platform that evolves to meet distinct crises and problems in the production and circulation of its digital commodities as contradictions arise. Ultimately, Steam shows how the cycle of capital accumulation encourages monopolization and centralization. political economy; digital labour; Steam; platforms; play; distribution; games Technology in Practice

Beyond the Marked Woman : The New Sex Worker in American Popular Culture, 2006-2016

Lauren Kirshner; PhD 2019; Supervisor: Ruth Panofsky

This dissertation argues that between 2006 and 2016, in a context of rising tolerance for sex workers, economic shifts under neoliberal capitalism, and the normalization of transactional intimate labour, popular culture began to offer new and humanizing images of the sex worker as an entrepreneur and care worker. This new popular culture legitimatizes sex workers in a growing services industry and carries important de-stigmatizing messages about sex workers, who continue to be among the most stigmatized of women workers in the U.S. These new representations challenge stereotypical portrayals of sex workers – as immoral criminals or exploited victims – that support conservative and patriarchal ideologies. Drawing upon feminist theories of sex work, labour theory, and feminist media studies methodology for exploring the nexus of gender, sexuality, and popular culture, this dissertation examines feature films, TV series, and TV and online documentaries that depict five sex work occupations – erotic dancers, massage parlour workers, webcam models, call girls, and sex surrogates – to illustrate the new figure of the sex worker as entrepreneur and care worker under neoliberal capitalism. By emphasizing sex workers’ agency to choose their work, dignifying their skills, underscoring sex work as a means of economic mobility, and highlighting the positive contributions sex workers make to their clients’ lives, these popular culture representations challenge the anti-sex work position espoused by conservative patriarchal ideology and prohibitionist feminists. Some of these new representations, however, intertwine with a neoliberal post-feminist sensibility that frames empowerment as realizable through individualism and the market alone, rather than in collective ways, and pose few concrete solutions to the challenges faced by sex workers today, namely criminalization. Even so, this dissertation argues that these emerging twenty-first century representations of the sex worker as entrepreneur and care worker are progressive and mark a growing social tolerance for the idea that, for some women, sex work is legitimate work.

Kazimir Malevich: Approaching the New System

Irina Lyubchenko; PhD 2020; Supervisor: R. Bruce Elder

This dissertation examines Kazimir Malevich’s art and writing with a view to establishing that they combine a strain of strict methodological reductionism with an equally well-marked esotericism. It strives to prove that although this feature of Malevich’s work was common among vanguard artists and thinkers, there are also highly idiosyncratic qualities in the way Malevich reconciled these two threads. An ensuing goal of this work is to propose how to complete an unfinished 1927 film script by Kazimir Malevich titled “Artistic and Scientific Film—Painting and Architectural Concerns—Approaching the New Plastic Architectural System.” The question regarding the confluence of science and mysticism in Malevich’s work— the primary concern of this dissertation—requires tracing in the artist’s art and writings the presence of ideas belonging to these worldviews traditionally considered to be antithetical to each other. This dissertation establishes Malevich’s relationship with mysticism and strains of thought that resemble scientific content and approach. Among the latter, this work investigates Malevich’s interest in the geometry of the fourth dimension, draws parallels between the artist’s concern for visualizing infinity and the problems of set theory, and examines the role of imaginary numbers in Malevich’s worldview. To complete the analysis of Malevich’s exploration of the concept of space prominent in the aforementioned mathematical themes, this dissertation examines the artist’s interest in investigating the space of the cosmos. It also establishes that Malevich’s ideas were not only influenced by the scientific advancements in electromagnetism but also by the theories of thermodynamics, which together with the former relay a view of the world where all processes, organic and inorganic, are understood as the product of the transformation of energy. In Cubism and Futurism: Spiritual Machines and the Cinematic Effect, R. Bruce Elder draws attention to the early twentieth-century thinkers’ view of cinema as an electromagnetic machine. This dissertation examines Malevich’s relationship with the cinematic art and its reception in Russia during Malevich’s most productive years. This work concludes with having satisfied its larger objective: to envision a possible scenario of how Malevich’s unfinished script could unfold. It contains the copy of the original script, its proposed finale, and an essay that outlines how my investigation of Malevich’s intellectual landscape informed the decisions involved in inferring the concluding shot sequences of the artist’s only cinematic work.

The end(s) of analogue: access to CBC/Radio-Canada Television Programming in an era of digital delivery

Steven James May; PhD 2017; Supervisor: Catherine Middleton

This dissertation studies the political economy of public television access in Canada as manifest in the country’s 2011 digital television/télévision numérique transition. Specifically, this dissertation scrutinizes the provision of access to television programming offered by Canada’s national public broadcaster, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation/Société Radio-Canada (CBC/Radio-Canada), and how CBC/Radio-Canada’s response to Canada’s 2011 digital television transition corresponds with its mandate under the Broadcasting Act to ensure that its programming is “made available throughout Canada by the most appropriate and efficient means and as resources become available for the purpose” (Canada, 1991). Drawing from research interviews conducted with disconnected analogue over-the-air (OTA) CBC/Radio-Canada television-viewing households and members of CBC/Radio-Canada Management involved with the public broadcaster’s response to Canada’s digital television transition deadline, this dissertation finds competing accounts of how public television delivery is linked to the provision of access to the public broadcaster’s television programming in the digital age. While interviewed members of CBC/Radio-Canada Management describe an inefficient analogue OTA public television delivery system that would be best superseded by more efficient modes of digital delivery, OTA CBC/Radio-Canada television-viewing households describe an analog OTA CBC/Radio-Canada television service that had been providing access to CBC/Radio Canada television programming and describe a digital disconnect following CBC/Radio Canada’s digital television transition. This dissertation questions the post-analogue public television delivery operations of CBC/Radio-Canada; mainly that public television delivery cost savings achieved as a result of CBC/Radio-Canada’s response to Canada’s digital television transition deadline have resulted in gaps in access to CBC/Radio-Canada television programming by some Canadian households as articulated through this dissertation’s Public Media Access Puzzle Sieve (Public M.A.P.S.) model. The Public M.A.P.S. model offers a means by which to both anticipate and assess levels of access to public media based on the model’s elements of access related to cost, availability, functionality, opportunities for à la carte service, and access to locally relevant feed(s). In the case of CBC/Radio-Canada, gaps in household access to the public broadcaster’s digital television programming as identified by the Public M.A.P.S. model help to underscore deficiencies in Canada’s post-analogue television system, the information communication technology (ICT) sector, and domestic spectrum management practices.

Shaping Toronto: female economy and agency in the corset industry, 1871-1914

Alanna McKnight; PhD 2018; Supervisor: Alison Matthews-David

In amplifying the contours of the body, the corset is an historical site that fashions femininity even as it constricts women’s bodies. This study sits at the intersection of three histories: of commodity consumption, of labour, and of embodiment and subjectivity, arguing that women were active participants in the making, selling, purchasing and wearing of corsets in Toronto, a city that has largely been ignored in fashion history. Between 1871 and 1914 many women worked in large urban factories, and in small, independent manufacturing shops. Toronto’s corset manufacturers were instrumental in the urbanization of Canadian industry, and created employment in which women earned a wage. The women who bought their wares were consumers making informed purchases, enacting agency in consumption and aesthetics; by choosing the style or size of a corset, female consumers were able to control to varying degrees, the shape of their bodies. As a staple in the wardrobe of most nineteenth-century women, the corset complicates the study of conspicuous consumption, as it was a garment that was not meant to be seen, but created a highly visible shape, blurring the lines between private and public viewing of the female body. Marxist analysis of the commodity fetish informs this study, and by acknowledging the ways in which the corset became a fetishized object itself, both signaling the shapeliness of femininity while in fact augmenting and diminishing female bodies. This study will address critical theory regarding the gaze and subjectivity, fashion, and modernity, exploring the relationship women had with corsets through media and advertising. A material culture analysis of extant corsets helps understand how corsets were constructed in Toronto, how the women of Toronto wore them, and to what extent they actually shaped their bodies. Ultimately, it is the aim of this dissertation to eschew common misconceptions about the practice of corsetry and showcase the hidden manner in which women produced goods, labour, and their own bodies in the nineteenth century, within the Canadian context.

Bot Politics: The Affordances of Twitter and Nonhuman Participation

Mina Momeni; PhD 2022; Supervisor: Greg Elmer

Social networking sites have had an indisputable impact on the realm of political communications, increasing political discourses all around the world. Social media platforms offer some affordances that can be employed by users to facilitate their political activism. However, online political activism can be influenced by software robots which can interact on social media to emulate human users’ behaviour and influence their political opinion. This dissertation employs the theory of affordances and explores how the affordances of Twitter, including shareability, direct communication, dynamic interaction, searchability, and identifiability function in practice and have been used to facilitate the political engagement of human and nonhuman users. To do so, this dissertation uses the case study of the 2017 Women’s March in the United States to articulate the affordances of Twitter and explores how human users employ the affordances of this platform in their political engagement. The result of this analysis indicates that the affordances of Twitter such as shareability (tweeting, retweeting, hashtags), and dynamic interaction (liking) were the most prevalent affordances of this platform during the Women’s March. In addition, the case study of “building the wall” is used to analyze social bots’ function, behaviour, and interaction on Twitter, to demonstrate to what extend bots are capable of using the affordances of Twitter. This study demonstrates that bots use the affordance of shareability (retweeting) and dynamic interaction (liking) more than other affordances. However, this study did not find convincing evidence that these bots are able to generate new content, cultivate meaningful discussions, or directly provide responses to other tweets. The theory of affordances accredits two main components, the human and the environment, and claims that affordances are properties that the environment offers to any human who perceives and uses them. However, focusing on two main elements creates substantial limitations for employing the theory to explore artificial intelligence and self- improving machines. This study demonstrates that bots are capable of using some of the affordances of Twitter and imitate human-like performance to some degree. Therefore, by including a third component — nonhuman smart actors— this study proposes a new definition for the theory of affordances, which is a core contribution of this dissertation.

Comparative electoral hortatory language 1993-1994: Jean Chretien and Silvo Berlusconi

Andrew Monti; PhD 2018; Supervisor: Patricia Mazepa

The thesis is a comparative analysis of the political languages endorsed and utilized by Jean Chretien in the 1993 Canadian Federal Election electoral campaign, and by Silvio Berlusconi in the 1994 Italian Political Election electoral campaign. The research collects all the subjects' utterances of political language in a period of 90 days before their respective election dates, in selected print and television media. Once the sample is freed of its redundant parts, two content analyses are carried out on the two corpi of material: a de-contextualized content analysis (single word count) and a contextualized content analysis (categorized sentence/phrase count). The contextualized content analysis produces categories of EHL, and three categories per subject are examined to test published generalizations about their "main messages" present in the scholarly literature. A comparative analysis underlines the similarities and differences in the subjects' respective electoral hortatory languages. Finally, the significant theoretical notions pertaining to the field of political language are applied to the quantitative and qualitative findings, and the conclusion presents suggestions for further research. Communication; Political science; Mass communications; Social sciences; Communication and the arts

Me-Dérive: Toronto - Remediating The [Ar]Chival Impulse

Ana Rita Morais, ; PhD 2021; Supervisor: Barbara Crow

This dissertation is an innovative exploration of the intersections between participatory archiving and augmented reality (AR), rooted in the necessity to engage more fully with Toronto’s diverse and historical cultural heritage. Foregrounded as research-creation, this work describes, theorizes, and disseminates an AR counter-archive— me-dérive: toronto. Mobilizing power away from institutional archives and into the hands of the public, me-dérive: toronto uses the power of locative media in order to provide records of Toronto’s diverse past and present in-situ. A portmanteau of the word ‘mediation’ and the Situationist’s notion of the dérive, the app produces a new paradigm to the archive— one that is simultaneously participatory and techno-informed. With every found photograph and submission alike the project multiples both in volume and vigor to combat the archival injustices that fail to narrativize Canadian immigrant identities. This counter-archive reclaims space through a participatory visual account of history, allowing for a different kind of knowledge—one that is techno-embodied—to emerge and be embraced. As the scope of the records and overall scale of the project amplifies, it engages a layer of complementary principles— the accrual of diverse narratives, the opposition of pre-prescribed history by governing institutions, and the dynamism to employ technology to engage critically with heritage records beyond the confinements of exclusive cultural spaces. Through historical research, precedent scanning, insights into cultural production, participatory and mobile app observation and research-creation projects, counter-archival projects demand that institutions become more inclusive, not only in collection practices, but in dissemination and access practices as well. My research addresses the gaps and omissions that exist in our institutional archives, while making explicit what is needed to make a more holistic, comprehensive archive of Toronto’s diverse narratives. me-dérive: toronto has been developed at the intersection of a series of technological, social and cultural routes: the omnipresence of locative and app-based media; the spatial turn in social sciences; the use of mobile media for supplementary content in cultural archives and museum spaces alike; the critical importance of cultivating marginalized narratives; the political concern of privacy and safety in varying public spaces; and the duality of virtual and real environments that hold the potential to augment space and place.

Struggling with Simulations: Decoding the Neoliberal Politics of Digital Games

David Murphy; PhD 2016; Supervisor: Bruno Lessard

As a creative industry currently rivalling film and television, digital games are filled with a variety of political tensions that exist both between and within particular works. Unfortunately, internal discrepancies are often dismissed as indicators of political ambivalence, or treated as formal flaws that need to be overcome. To address this gap, this dissertation draws from game studies, media studies, and political economics to investigate the contradictory relationships between popular games and neoliberalism, specifically in relation to playful forms of resistance and critique that emerge during gameplay. Part I develops this study’s methodology by drawing from corresponding uses of assemblage theory, specifically articulated in Ong (2006, 2007), Lazzarato (2012, 2015), and Gilbert’s (2013) control society approaches to neoliberalism and Taylor (2009), Pearce and Artemesia’s (2009) digital ethnographic approaches to play. Derived from the French agencement, assemblage theory emphasizes heterogeneous relations in constant states of becoming that are understood as being real. Part II implements the aforementioned methodology by examining some of the most popular gaming franchises produced to date, with each demonstrating emergent political correlations and dissonances springing from relationships between different ludic and narrative components. BioShock (2007–2013) and Red Dead Redemption (2011) are narratively structured by neoliberal discourse, yet each storyline fails to correspond with the resistant political logic embedded in their respective rule systems. Conversely, Call of Duty (2004 – present) attains a high level of political cohesion that does not result in a better playing experience, as much as it contributes to conflicts amongst publishers, developers, and fans. Finally, Minecraft (2009–present) provides a fascinating example of a game that representationally reinforces neoliberalism while simultaneously affording the creation of new digital objects, including objects that give players the opportunity to understand and appreciate the computational infrastructures that a neoliberal emphasis on source code takes for granted. This dissertation, as a result, charts the growing connections between emergent gameplay and new forms of resistance and critique—connections that contribute not only to game studies, but also to the study of digital media and the interdisciplinary study of neoliberalism.

Sense of the past: historic house museums in Toronto, Canada, as forms of an urban heterotopia

Alevtina Naumova; PhD 2017; Supervisor: Paul Moore

Historic house museums allow for reconceptualization of the meaning of tangible objects around us. We establish this new relationship with materiality through our sensory bodies. We conceive of ourselves differently and allow ourselves to move and behave in ways that are not acceptable in the world outside of the museum. We perform our new selves with permission granted by the sense of place that cannot be understood other than through embodied experience–of things, of selves, of the environment that brings it all together. In the coming together of all these elements in the immediate, intimate present, the notion of the past is defined as cultural heritage as mediated through the historic house museum curatorial work and space. I approach historic house museums as socially created and lived kinds of spatiality and sites of social practices and focus on the experiences of people that spend considerable amounts of time there–the museum staff. As a researcher, I have inserted myself within the environment of a historic house museum and attempted to open it to social inquiry through various ways of being within it–observing, writing, interviewing, interacting, sensing, entering it and leaving it. I have carried out a form of phenomenological ethnography, which included a two-year autoethnographic study at the Mackenzie House Museum, in Toronto, Canada, where I volunteered in the position of an interpreter and a historic cook; 24 participant observation visits to other historic house museums in Toronto; and 13 in-depth unstructured interviews with museum staff from various historic house museum sites in the city. The three methods addressed the key conceptual clusters–emplacement, materiality, and performance, which form three analytical chapters of the dissertation. The dissertation positions historic house museums as forms of heterotopia that function as contestations of the accepted spatial, social, and temporal norms within an urban environment. These museums come forth as attempted reconstructions of anthropological places, in the form of domestic sites that assert significance of material manifestations of familial relations and historical heritage. These sites are immersive environments bridge the gap in the current experience of body, time, and space.

Mors Naviculam: The Globalization of Canadian Fashion through Trade, Policy and Regulation

Mark O'Connell; PhD 2020; Supervisor: Greg Elmer

Canadian Fashion in its current modes of design, production and distribution is deeply integrated into globalized production chains that segment various aspects of manufacturing into disparate locations scattered around the globe. At best, these globalised operations provide jobs and revenue for developing economies, at worst the unregulated sites of production are left wide open for labour abuses that can spell disaster for the workers employed there, and the local environment. The goal of this research is to use the knowledge gained from the close study of fashion objects to illustrate the negative consequences of contemporary fashion production, a manufacturing model that is currently undertaken at the detriment of both workers as well as the environment. Utilizing an object-based research method, one that auto-ethnographises garments and their impacts, the full scope of the impacts of these processes are explored. Research also details the history of how these production models came to be and includes an examination of innovations that are aiming to counter these destructive modes of production as well as possibilities for amelioration. Sustainability (fashionable or otherwise) as a goal is not an ambition that can be achieved in a vacuum. The processes that create an unsustainable environment for manufacturing and production are directed and mediated by various social actors, they range from consumer preference, economic directives, as well as access to retail, manufacturing and labour markets. All of the actions of these competing mediating forces are synthesized into public policy. Governmental regulations on how production is undertaken locally, and the parameters for import and export are all set according to the general public will. It is this will (for good or ill) that will shape the future of Canadian fashion manufacturing. Fashion sustainability; Canadian fashion economy; Canadian fashion history; Globalization of fashion manufacturing

Communication instinct: Husserl and the embodied temporality of the social

Boris Pantev; PhD 2016; Supervisor: R. Bruce Elder

This dissertation revisits the question of the temporal constitution of sociality. What is the role of subjective time-experience in the understanding of other people and the formation of communicative environment? This problem is considered in a generative phenomenological context. The investigation traces analytically the “stages” of communicative constitution: from the explicit intentional modes of interaction back to the pre-affective and habitualized social sense-accomplishments. The task is approached through a systematic exposition of Edmund Husserl's generative concept of communication proper (Mitteilung, Kommunikation). A widespread view in the classical and more recent phenomenological scholarship is that Husserl’s concept of communication must be derivative of the more fundamental categories of empathy and intersubjectivity (Einfühlung and Intersubjektivität; Schütz 1957; Held 1972; Zahavi 1996). The theoretical potential of the concept of communication for a phenomenology of sociality has thus been largely overlooked. The dissertation challenges this long-established model and attempts to reaffirm the central constitutive role of communication, to redefine its function in contradistinction with that of empathy. It does so by considering Husserl’s later “genetic phenomenology” where temporal experiences are construed in the background of the sphere of “primal flowing living present” (urströmende lebendige Gegenwart). On this basis, the notion of communication is uncovered as transcendentally rooted in the structure of pre-conscious instinctual Ineinander. This perspective is radicalized and validated through an extensive analysis of Levinas’s implicit debate with Husserl regarding the temporal constitution of alterity and also translated into a problem of the ethical meaning of objective forms of social communication. The central argument of the dissertation is that an interpretation of Husserl’s concept of communication in connection with the notions of primal temporal flow, instincts, and pre-intentional passive synthesis affords the elaboration of a generative phenomenological concept of “intermonadic communication” which grounds empathy rather than deriving from it. Such an interpretation might further prove productive for the study of both nonverbal interaction (also in relation to treatments of autism) and the developmental basis of social behaviour. Its potential to validate an ethical theory of interpersonal understanding is also affirmed through a comparative analysis of Husserl and Levinas's concepts of subjectivity, sensibility and common time.

The Meaning of ‘Meat’: Boundary Objects in the Promotional Cultures of Plant-Based Meat

Ryan Phillips; PhD 2021; Supervisor: Jessica Mudry

This dissertation interrogates the use of boundary objects in the rhetorical framing strategies of plant-based meat companies. I address the framing, categorization, and boundary work of foods such as ‘vegan’, ’meat’, and ‘burger’ from a Bourdieuian, class-focused perspective. I use rhetorical framing analysis to critically engage with the Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods burger campaigns—including CEO interviews (with Patrick Brown and Ethan Brown), trade journal articles (Fortune and Business Insider), company websites (Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods, A&W, and Burger King), Twitter posts (@AWCanada and @BurgerKing), and consumer engagements on Twitter—between 2014-2018. This project contributes to the theoretical refinement of boundary objects by demonstrating how they can be used to rhetorically situate non-dominant social actors within the categorical boundaries of dominant groups. In this case, plant-based meat companies redefine ‘meat’ along chemical and nutritional lines in order to situate themselves and their products within the privileged socio-cultural category of meat. I also enhance the usefulness of rhetorical framing analysis as a method of studying communication by adding agenda-dismissal to the methodological repertoire of agenda-setting theory. I find that, while vegetarianism and veganism have historically constituted anti-consumerist subjectivities, Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods, and the rhetoric of plant-based meat serve to reinforce a dominant ideological frame of individuals-as-consumers by encouraging people to consume more ‘good’ food. From a class-based perspective, this rhetorical strategy places the consumerist logic of plant-based meats at odds with the conspicuous and distinguished consumption ideals of bourgeois veganism. Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods, and plant-based meat rhetorics thus perpetuate neoliberal hegemony by emphasizing a nutricentric framing of food products, which dismisses other relevant social, cultural, and economic elements of food. Finally, I use this project as an interjection into the larger field of cultural studies in order to identify and name an emerging sub-discipline of critical analysis: ‘meat studies’. Ultimately, I argue that the rhetoric of plant-based meat companies reinforce rather than challenge both meat’s privileged cultural status and the foundations upon which consumer capitalism exists.

The Role of Canadian National Print Media in Fostering Positive Public Opinion Towards the Legislation of Same-Sex Marriage in Canada

Amanda Piche; PhD 2020; Supervisor: Art Blake

Since the Charter of Rights and Freedoms emerged in 1982, Canadian national print news was central to the complex networks in the establishment of same-sex marriage in 2005. Newspapers framed marriage equality as a human rights’ issue, within conventions for balance and objectivity. However, LGBTQrelated issues have not consistently been approached this way by the media, which have traditionally created and regulated boundaries of gender and sexuality (Rubin 2007). This dissertation explores why Canadian mainstream press oscillated between anti-queer and pro-LGBTQ approaches in a post-Charter Canada and its effect on public opinion. I show how news reporting is symbiotically implicated in Canadian public perspectives through public sphere theory (Habermas 1989; Fraser 1992). Frame analysis demonstrates how the issue was ideologically positioned in print (Goffman, 1974; Entman 1993; McCombs 2004; Scheufele 1999, 2000). A content analysis of over 2,000 national newspaper articles published between 1982 and 2005 reveal the frames used in stories about marriage equality. Semi-structured interviews with journalists and activists contextualize the analysis. Responses determine how media frames may have implicated understanding and support of the issue, and why and how certain frames were decided by journalists. This work informs the history of LGBTQ rights in Canada by exploring how the national news industry contributed to the framing of marriage equality. Analyses of news coverage of marriage equality remains largely US-centric (Brewer 2002 & 2003; Tadlock, et. al, 2007; Liebler et al., 2009; Li and Liu, 2010; Pan et al. 2010). Research on framing marriage equality in Canada focuses on litigants (Smith 2007), courts (Matthews 2005), and newspapers in 2003 and 2004 (Bannerman 2012). Despite several studies concerning the politics of sexual diversity in Canada (Hogg 2006; Kinsman 1996; Kinsman and Gentile 2010; Pettinicchio 2010; Rayside 2008; M. Smith 2008, 2012), marriage equality has not been studied extensively.

I Didn't See Anyone Who Looked Like Me': Gender and Racial Representation in Board Gaming

Tanya Pobuda; PhD 2022; Supervisor: Jason Boyd

Through a variety of mixed methods, this PhD dissertation asks whether a lack of diversity in the labour of board game design, and a lack of representation of women and non-binary, Black, Indigenous, Persons of Colour (BIPOC) in artwork of popular games acts as a potential barrier for board gaming cultures’ potential growth, wider mainstream cultural adoption, and creates the conditions for exclusion and marginalization for those who identify as women, LGBTQiIA+, and BIPOC? The research conducted in support of this dissertation found that 92.6 percent of the labour of board game design was that of white-identified, male-identified creators in a sample of the top-ranked 400 board games on the global game repository, BoardGameGeek (BGG). This study further found that of the human representation found on the cover art of the boxes of the top 200 BGG games, images of men and/or boys represented 76.8 percent of the sample or 647 figures. Women and/or girls were represented 23.2 percent of the time or 195 figures in total compared to men. Only 17.5% of the human representation was that of Black, Indigenous, Persons of Colour (BIPOC) on the cover art of board games or 112 total figures, versus 528 images of white figures which represented 82.5 percent of the sample. Further, 320 respondents to an online survey shared that representation was a notable factor in their perceptions of, and behaviours within the hobby and industry, with 84.9 percent of the respondents indicating that diverse gender and racial representation was a problem in contemporary board games. A correlation was located in the representation of women, and BIPOC in game design and artwork and board game consumers play and purchase decision-making. Board games; gaming, media representation; feminism; racism; games labour.

Investing in Yourself: Entrepreneurial Journalism in the Digital Age

Margaret Reid; PhD 2018; Supervisor: Greg Elmer

This dissertation is grounded in a Critical Political Economy of communication theoretical framework in conjunction with extensive, qualitative interviews with eighteen emerging journalists, three journalism educators from different types of journalism schools (academic, vocational, hybrid) and four editors from different types of news organizations (legacy, public broadcaster, digital first media) in order to navigate between institutional structures and the agency of individual actors. This work examines how the current structural configurations of the news media industry are impacting how emerging journalists negotiate the expectations that they develop personal brands online, including their perceived control and autonomy over their work. It also aims to understand how journalistic training and hiring practices in news media organizations are changing given the financial uncertainty of the industry. The death of the advertising business model, the increasingly precarious nature of the journalism workforce, and an increased reliance on social networking sites for distribution, referred to as the ‘new media environment’, are shaping the way news is produced and the ways in which emerging journalists are able to achieve paid employment. This dissertation presents an original inquiry into the online brand building and professionalization practices of emerging journalists. This study finds that as journalists are increasingly required to personally brand themselves and act as entrepreneurs, the governing values of the profession and the work of doing journalism has changed greatly. It was found that the notion of journalistic autonomy is complex and contradictory as journalists prefer the freedoms that are afforded from working in a freelance capacity but are also compelled to use social networking sites for professionalization and must engage in self-promotion and personal branding. The findings further demonstrate that emerging journalists must undergo layers of what the researcher refers to as visibility labour, which refers to the layers of unpaid labour, the processes of self-commodification and personal branding that emerging journalists must undertake to promote themselves, gain recognition and build audiences around themselves in attempts to build a sustainable career and resist precarity. This dissertation considers policy responses and proposes ways forward for the news industry, journalism education, and for journalists themselves.

A cut above: the end (and ends) of film censorship

Daniel Sacco; PhD 2017; Supervisor: Murray Pomerance

By the beginning of the twenty-first century in the West, the notion of government-appointed bodies mandated for censoring cinematic content had fallen considerably out of fashion as institutional censorship was largely curtailed. Barring widely shared concerns regarding the exposure of underage children to material deemed inappropriate, newly rebranded “classification” boards have acted to limit the extent to which they themselves can prohibit images from entering the public market, shifting their emphasis away from censorship and toward consumer edification and greater consideration of artistic merit and authorial intent. Such reform brought the policies of censorship boards in Britain, Canada, and Australia into closer alignment with the goals and processes of the Motion Picture Association of America’s ratings system. Can we then assume that cinematic censorship is effectively a thing of the past? Does the impetus to regulate and police film content continue silently to exist? Analysis of controversies surrounding particular films throughout and in the wake of this shift suggests that, while no longer practiced explicitly by governmental institutions, film censorship continues to operate through less immediately recognizable forms of cultural marginalization and restraint. Classification status drastically affects the number of platforms through which a film can be accessed and thus works, as censorship does, to restrict films from audiences. When market demands place external restraints upon film content, familiar processes of cinematic censorship can be reframed as operating within (as opposed to upon) the institutional structures and practices of cultural production. This two-part study will examine, first, the process by which certain postmillennial cinematic artworks, such as Catherine Breillat’s Fat Girl (2001) and Gaspar Noé’s Irreversible (2002), spurred reform in the policies of classification boards by highlighting the rigidity of classification criteria and, secondly, cases in which, following the shift from moral to covert censorship, artistically serious films such as Vincent Gallo’s The Brown Bunny (2003) and Abel Ferrara’s Welcome to New York (2014) have been suppressed or constrained for their challenging subject matter, most notably for their aggressive presentation of sexuality. The main objective will be determining: 1) how the shift from censorship to classification corresponded to the aesthetic strategies of a handful of boundary-pushing films; and 2) how cinematic censorship, in the absence of traditional institutional enforcement, continues to operate in the interactions between alternative networks of disciplinary power and discursive practice.

The Designer’s Contribution to the 3d Knit Ecosystem

Kirsten Schaefer; PhD 2020; Supervisor: Charles Davis

The term 3D knitting is used in popular media and marketing to describe textile products knit in a single, shaped piece, without seams. 3D knit products provide: increased comfort in wearable items, greater product integrity, new design possibilities, reduction in manual labour, and new opportunities to integrate “smart” fibres. Due to the complex machinery and software used for this type of fabrication, designers engaging with 3D knitting require a different mindset compared to traditional cut and sew or knit design processes. This research was framed by the question: What role do designers play in the current 3D knit ecosystem? A secondary question asked: What are the opportunities and challenges in expanding designers’ skills for 3D knitting? Qualitative inquiry was used to examine designers’ experience in the 3D knit ecosystem in Canada and the United States from the perspectives of three primary stakeholders: designers, software technicians (programmers), and production managers (manufacturers). Modified touchstone tours including semi-structured interviews were conducted with participants (n=18) from the three key stakeholder groups at companies (n=10) across Canada and the United States. Thematic analysis was used to identify and organize key themes from the data. Results indicate that 3D knitting provides benefits in five categories: consumer/product, manufacturer, design and development, business strategy, and sustainability. Challenges and roadblocks were identified in four categories for all stakeholders: costs, education and employment, design and development, and communication. Challenges identified by one stakeholder group were frequently mirrored by or connected to the experience of another group. Results suggest that tacit knowledge contributes to the communication bottleneck in the 3D knit ecosystem. As access to 3D knitting increases, designers’ responsibilities and the scope of their considerations in the design and development process must expand. Designers who understand the goals and priorities of the other stakeholder groups are better equipped to successfully navigate the 3D knit design and development process. This research has implications for current practices in textile and apparel production as well as for higher education institutions preparing design students for careers in this evolving industry.

This is for fighting, this is for fun: popular Hollywood combat (war) films from the first Gulf war to the present (1990-2015)

Andrea Schofield; PhD 2016; Supervisor: Steve Bailey and Nima Naghib

Hollywood has been making war movies since it began making movies. Widely credited as the first ‘Blockbuster,’ and one of the first films to establish Hollywood narrative techniques and conventions, D.W. Griffith’s 1915 film, Birth of A Nation, is an epic melodrama about the American Civil War ending with a literal marriage of the North and the South in the form of a young white heterosexual couple, solidifying the connection between war, families, and nation-building that has become the framework of the genre; hetero-nuclear families are the basis of the nation and war is a threat to these families, but ultimately also a critical component of nation-building/strengthening. These ideologies persist in contemporary combat films. The First Gulf War and those in Iraq and Afghanistan have had a major impact on this genre and this project investigates the (sometimes radical) shifts in representations of gender, sexuality, race/ethnicity, and nationality in popular Hollywood combat films made and released since the first Gulf War (1990) with a particular emphasis on more recent films (2005-2015) since these are the films which have received the least, if any, scholarly attention. Building on existing cultural, feminist, film, and postcolonial theory using a case study of selected popular Hollywood combat films and based primarily upon close textual analysis of the films themselves, this dissertation argues that these post-Cold War combat films are vital in creating and reinforcing cultural scripts about gender, sexuality, race/ethnicity, nationality, and war. This analysis adds to the field by identifying key cycles in the genre and arguing that, in fact, the ideologies of these films whether intentionally or not, reinforce the idea of a white, American, male-headed household as the norm to be protected, removing ‘Others’ from the frame, and implying that war is somehow natural, unending, and/or unavoidable, thereby creating a self-fulfilling prophesy wherein the more it happens, the more we seek to represent it, to gain mastery over it, the more natural and unavoidable it seems, and the more it continues to happen and seem normal and on and on into perpetuity.

Toronto’s Little Shop of Horrors: a Cultural Criminology Examination on Serial Killer Bruce McArthur and the News Media

Emma Margaret Smith; PhD 2020; Supervisor: Stephen Muzzatti

Contributing to the dynamic and interdisciplinary field of cultural criminology, this project works to emphasize the destructive, modern forces of consumerism and violence within Toronto’s crime-news industry. The paper fuses the canonical and emerging methodologies of content analysis, discourse analysis, and liquid ethnography, to evaluate the framing and editing techniques used to relay the story of Bruce McArthur’s predations in The Village (over the 2018 news year). A sample of 365 articles, retrieved from five print media sources, are methodically examined to understand both the local and national agenda-setting strategies of contemporary journalism. Actively contributing to the transformation of human suffering and violence into mass-market pleasure, a carnival of crime model (Presdee, 2000) serves as a primary lens for evaluating the hyper-sensationalized reporting styles of modern news makers. Weaving theoretical contributions from the fields of sociology and media studies, the embeddedness of heteronormative, racialized, and ethnocentric tropes common to the news and crime-infotainment industries is also critically evaluated towards raising greater political and social accountability. Crime-centric podcasts are further identified as a leading technological medium for fueling public obsessions with murder and transgressions. Formed by enthusiastic hobbyists and motivated journalists, the producers of podcasting content hastily straddle the realms of entertainment and information sharing. As such, this research calls for immediate awareness and tending to the neoliberal symptoms of boredom and fear existing in our modern world, building on Stanley Cohen’s (1972) moral panic theory. cultural criminology, serial killer, news media, crime infotainment, McArthur

Performing the Documentary: Expanding the Cinematic Frame

Cyrus Sundar Singh; PhD 2024; Supervisor: Blake Fitzpatrick

Performing the Documentary references not only the nascent site-specific live-documentary methodology but connects the emergent form and its performative construct directly to documentary practice. This dissertation, based on eight years of scholarly research and decades of the author’s professional practice, demonstrates that the ephemeral live methodology is a powerful counterpoint to the recorded narratives of linear documentary film. Whereas the film, like a pre-recorded musical album, is an exercise in full authorial, editorial, and technical control, live-documentary is an exercise in letting go of the control and allowing the story to unfold much like the spontaneity of a live performance by a group of jazz musicians improvising within a predetermined structure. Moreover, placed within, on, or next to a site or a space that is integral to the story, live-documentary harnesses the co-presence of the audience, the simultaneity of the performance, and the immediacy of response in the reception and in the “liveness” (Auslander 2002) of the narrative. The three chapters in part one of this two-part dissertation explore the various theories and practices that technology, tradition, and innovation have contributed to the evolution of documentary for over a century, while establishing links that connect live- documentary methodology to documentary’s history. The sub-title Expanding the Cinematic Frame, referenced in part two, pushes beyond the limits of filmic convention, situating live- documentary and its performative construct as a direct face-to-face relationship between the storytellers and their audience, in an interactive co-creative recounting of migrant journeys to Canada. The four chapters analyse concurrent professional site-specific live-documentary productions between 2016 and 2021 as concrete iterative examples of the form that expands the conventional notion of documentary as a tool for social change (Benson & Snee 2008; Cardillo 2014). Within that context, the research explores the value of this co-creative methodology and its ability to engage communities and individuals in unpacking issues of identity, displacement, and belonging while offering insights into the individual’s and/or a community’s positionality within the story through a documentary lens. Documentary; liveness; performance; co-creation; migration.

The Case for Graphic Counter-Memorials in the Comics of Joe Sacco, Art Spiegelman, And Brian Wood And Riccardo Burchielli

Diane Brooke Winterstein; PhD 2017; Supervisor: Monique Tschofen

My dissertation considers a group of contemporary comics about war by Joe Sacco, Art Spiegelman, and Brian Wood and Riccardo Burchielli, as examples of a larger genre I call the graphic counter-memorial. Graphic counter-memorial comics address history, memory, and trauma as they depict the political, violent, and collective aspects of war and social conflict. I argue that the particular comics I study in this dissertation, which mingle fiction and non-fiction and autobiography as well as journalism, follow the tradition of the counter-monuments described by James E. Young. Studying commemorative practices and counter-monuments in the 1980s, Young notes a generation of German artists who resist traditional forms of memorialization by upending the traditional monument structure in monument form. Young looks at the methods, aims, and aesthetics these artists use to investigate and problematize practices that establish singular historical narratives. Like these works of public art, the graphic counter-memorial asks the reader to question ‘official history,’ authenticity, and the objectivity typically associated with non-fiction and reporting. I argue that what these comics offer is an opportunity to re-examine comics that incorporate real and familiar social and historical events and wars. Comics allow creators to visually and textually overlap perspectives and time. Graphic counter-memorials harness the comic medium’s potential to refuse fixed narratives of history by emphasizing a sense of incompleteness in their representation of trauma, memory, and war. This makes possible a more complex and rich way to engage with Western society’s relationship to the past, and in particular, a more complex way of engaging with collective memory and war. Their modes of mediating history produce political intervention through both form and content.

Designing the XR Medium: Five Rhetorical Perspectives for the Ecology of Human+Computer Networks

Peter Zakrzewski; PhD 2021; Supervisor: Bruno Lessard

Cycles of invented digital media environments driven by the optimization of feasibility of media technology, from personal computers to social media, while creating efficient systems, have also produced psychological and social side effects including media addiction, depression and anxiety among users, and erosion of privacy and fraying of the social fabric. Escalating blending of immersive technologies with advanced computation allows system makers to produce not only human-computer interaction networks, but advanced, multi-minded human+computer (H+C) systems. The critical shift toward user immersion within systems of digital information and simulation makes the scale of immersive media’s potential impact on human life, culture and well-being unlike that of any previous medium. This dissertation addresses H+C immersion as a multi-dimensional design problem—a Research Through Design (RTD) zone which addresses the question: How can design-thinking-based knowledge system complement the existing human-computer interaction (HCI) invention model to contribute to the creation of more socially desirable and human-centred immersive media environments? The dissertation positions human+computer immersion design as a field of rhetorical influence, which starts with the initial design of the H+C system and continues as a mindful dialogue between system designers and users, once the system becomes active. The dissertation aims to make its contribution to both design and media theory by applying design thinking paradigm to the human+computer immersion problem by proposing a framework of four test and application ready graphical models intended to allow immersive media makers from the engineering backgrounds to adopt a user-centred design approach while encouraging user experience (UX) practitioners from design backgrounds to enter the field of immersion experience design. It leverages the Inspiration-Ideation-Implementation design process to propose the logic model for H+C immersion design. Inspired by Bateson’s call for the ecology of mind, it also offers 35 axioms for the ecology of H+C systems that attempt to pragmatically unite the human and the computer perspectives of socio-technical systems. Additionally, it leverages Gibson Bond’s game design framework to offer the layered H+C immersion design model. Finally, it offers the proposal for five rhetorics of extended reality experience design (XRX) that blend the discursive and non- discursive approaches to multimodal rhetorical media composition.

Telling our stories on the web: Canadian English-language web series and the production of culture online

Emilia Zboralska; PhD 2018; Supervisor: Charles Davis

This dissertation presents the first critical scholarly analysis of the Canadian English-language scripted web series industry, its cultural practices, industrial dynamics and texts. Through in-depth interviews with 48 individuals active in the production of Canadian online scripted content, participant observation, and a benchmark quantitative analysis of gender and race in key creative roles in 175 seasons of Canadian web series, the dissertation investigates the web as an alternative space for Canadian scripted audiovisual content, and the actors and forces that have shaped and are shaping its development, including its emergent patterns of inclusion. By developing a novel theoretical framework that combines the critical political economy of communication with entrepreneurship studies, the dissertation is able to mediate effectively between structure and agency to reveal how Canadian web series creators are interpreting, internalizing and resisting larger institutional dynamics and discourses in their cultural practices and texts. Through their entrepreneuring, Canadian web creators are reacting to a variety of rigidities within the contextual dimensions in which they are embedded, including the absence of meaningful opportunities to practice their crafts, the persistence of networks of exclusion, and inaccurate or missing on-screen representations of themselves or others in mainstream media. Through their work, they desire to achieve freedom from these constraints. The challenge of disrupting the status quo is then revealed through an examination of the domestic and extra-national structural factors that act as impediments to their agency. The dissertation problematizes ideas of participation and access on the web, and introduces new conceptual terminology through the Participatory Culture Paradox, to encapsulate the contradictory set of relations that on the one hand, enables creators’ activities in the online space, and at the same time, constrains their capacity to find audiences and monetize their work. The findings here demonstrate that as much as internet-based distribution has expanded opportunities for participation for regular users, who you are, and where you are based, continue to be salient mediators of both participation and success in the development of professional scripted screen careers in the digital age. The dissertation culminates in actionable priorities for Canadian policy that aim at change.

From Ghetto To Glam: Representation Of African American Male Identity In Television Sitcoms

Johan Anthony Adams-Persaud; MA 2017; Supervisor: Jeremy Shtern

In an attempt to identify what influences comedies and Black male comedic characters have on society and viewers whose likeness are reflected in these portrayals, this Masters Research Paper (MRP) will closely examine a selected set of television shows that not only influenced my individual identity, but whose content and characters I believe clearly have villainized and dehumanized African American men through the heavy use of stereotypes. The television show Amos ‘n’ Andy (1951-1953) will be examined in regards to its portrayal of African American males as unintelligent, feeble minded, and objects of mockery when paired with Caucasian characters, while Diff’rent Strokes (1980- 1986) and The Fresh Prince of Bel Air (1990-1996) will be used as examples of sitcoms that use the practice of pairing Caucasian males and obedient Black males with ill-mannered inner city Black men in order to alter their negative traits and turn them into civilized gentlemen, suitable for a predominantly white audience. The reference to All in the Family (1971-1979) will examine how the series’ use of comedy to confront racism overshadows it’s re-enactment of colonial practices. Lastly, the current popular Netflix series Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (2015- present) will analyse the use of the African American gay male body to reinforce the historical narrative of the hypersexual Black man and the Black male sexual predator.

Broken Record: An arts-informed autoethnography of adolescent institutionalization

Alison Aird; MA 2019; Supervisor: Art Blake

“Broken Record” is a Masters Research Project in which I explore my experience in an adolescent psychiatric institution using an arts-informed autoethnographic method. The final project is a 200-page artistic exploration of language, meaning, identity, and psychiatry. This component of the research outlines the critical objectives of the project and grounds the work in a body of existing literature. The primary contribution of the paper is its presentation of Madness as Method, a distinct approach to autoethnographic research on madness and psychiatric survival that mobilizes mad subjectivity to generate knowledge from a place of embodiment, distress, memory work, and academic research. I outline this methodology at length, identifying and exploring its four stages: unravelling, integration, narrative, and reckoning. I conclude this paper by situating my Masters Research Project in the context of my Masters training and my professional goals beyond the academy.

Online Public Shaming and Judicial Law

Sujana Alahari; MA 2017; Supervisor: John McCullough

My research explores criminal law and criminal psychology theories on public shaming and crime, and it will analyze how these theories are applicable to the social media context. Determining the viability of online public shaming sanctions is important because of the economic and ethical implications it poses. I hope to determine this through exploring the appropriate criminology and psychology theories, examining past cases of public shaming and analyzing recent online shaming cases and practises. public shaming and crime; reintegration; punishment; behavior; penalties; victim 

Public Sphere Disruption: Public Service Broadcasting and the CBC at the Digital Crossroads

Scott Baird; MA 2019; Supervisor: David Skinner

Public broadcasting is traditionally thought to be an essential element to public spheres. This paper charts how this relationship is formed, and then demonstrates how it is threatened in the Canadian context. Canada’s public broadcaster, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, has digital policies like Strategy 2020: A Space for Us All which suggests CBC is pivoting away from its relationship with the public sphere, and in some ways weakening the Canadian public sphere. Accordingly, this paper looks at the claims charged about this policy, particularly from Taylor (2016), and considers how it and similar digital policies affect the CBC as an element of the Canadian public sphere. While the paper finds CBC digital policies benefit the public sphere, the majority put into action hinder CBC’s relationship to the Canadian public sphere. Overall, this MRP highlights the importance of considering the philosophy of the public sphere when developing public media policy.

Witnessing the Genetic Self: How Non-Specialists Use Reveal Videos To Approach Genetics And Race Through Direct-To-Consumer Genetic Ancestry Testing

Megan Berry; MA 2018; Supervisor: Anne MacLennan

This paper investigates the interpretation and expression at work when those without a higher education in genetics take a direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetic ancestry test (i.e. AncestryDNA) and then communicate this experience through online video on YouTube, most commonly through the Reveal genre of videos. Through non-random quota sampling a diverse corpus for analysis was created and then analyzed through the lenses of critical race theory, intersectionality, and María Lugones’s concepts of transparency and thickness, with focusing guidance from Gubium and Holstein’s narrative components to uncover how the test-takers approached genetics and race. The variations in how individuals approach their DTC genetic ancestry test results and communicate them through the videos, touching on topics such as race, family, self-identity, and stories, were discovered to work well alongside Roth and Ivemark’s recently presented genetic options theory.

Repackaging Japan: An Analysis of Japanese Television Exports

Nathalie Claire Bick; MA 2016; Supervisor: Steven Bailey

'Repackaging Japan: An Analysis of Japanese Television Exports,' delves into the globalization of Japanese television through a case study of the Pokémon franchise. The author investigates the economic motivations driving Japan's cultural exports, tracing the country's transition from heavy industry to cultural products. Focusing on Pokémon, the paper analyzes the localization process, wherein Japanese elements are altered to enhance global appeal. Despite superficial changes, thematic elements reflecting Japanese culture persist, such as the sensei-deishi relationship. The author delves into the symbiotic relationship between television and toy industries, emphasizing how merchandise supports production and influences viewer engagement. The paper also examines challenges faced by Japanese producers in adapting content for North American audiences and addresses the broader global context of cultural trade imbalances. The author concludes by highlighting unique industrial circumstances in Japan that facilitate intellectual property sharing and co-productions, challenging the dominance of American cultural products in the global market. The study contributes valuable insights into the strategies and complexities of repackaging Japanese television for international audiences

A Short, Qualitative Analysis Of Virtual Private Networks

Alexandra Bonder; MA 2018; Supervisor: Greg Elmer

This paper provides an overview of the current state of Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) by combining a general analysis of key issues with the perspectives of employees working at five popular VPN companies. This paper argues that VPN technology cannot be analyzed in a meaningful way without reference to the values and motivations of the people of which the companies comprise. A key finding is the differences observed between different employees’ understanding of terms essential to VPN competence: “security” and “privacy”. These differences highlight the difficulty of judging VPNs objectively, as, their perceived functionality ultimately depends on an affective alignment of values between user and company.

The Challenge For Change At 50: Reimagining Canadian Activist Participatory Documentary At The National Film Board

Zechariah Bouchard; MA 2017; Supervisor: Art Blake

This paper examines the revitalization potential of the Challenge for Change (CFC), an activist documentary project initiated during Canada's Centennial in 1967. The CFC, running until 1980, aimed to address poverty through participatory filmmaking. The author advocates for an updated CFC model, incorporating Participatory Action Research and modern media outreach strategies. Reflecting on the original success of the CFC, particularly the empowering "Fogo Process," the paper contends that the participatory approach remains relevant in bridging communication gaps between marginalized communities and government resources. Despite technological advancements, persistent challenges like poverty and limited distribution channels for alternative voices necessitate a reimagined CFC. The paper envisions leveraging modern technologies to connect isolated communities, address mental health and aging issues, and create an equitable platform for grassroots productions. By aligning with the National Film Board's founding principles, the author argues for the strategic application of technology to amplify activist voices, foster community engagement, and drive positive social change in today's saturated media landscape.

A Modest Referee: Measuring The UNESCO CCD’s Effect on Culture and Free Trade Agreement Negotiation

Chantal Braganza; MA 2018; Supervisor: Tuna Baskoy

The purpose of this research is to assess the effectiveness of the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of Diversity of Cultural Expressions (CCD) as a trade instrument intended to protect local culture and cultural industries from free market influences. Much previous writing has pointed out flaws or weaknesses in its legal language and structure; few studies have been carried out on the way it has been cited and employed in actual trade negotiations and disputes. Through a recount of the its history, a close read of the original document of the CCD itself, and a case-study examination of two recently signed free trade agreements and a concluded international trade dispute, this research paper will show that the ways in which this nearly 15-year-old document has been employed does not quite live up to its intended purpose. cultural policy, free trade, UNESCO CCD, culture and trade disputes, cultural diplomacy, CETA, CPTPP

To See the Views: YouTube as an Object of New Media Critique

Claudio Carosi; MA 2017; Supervisor: John McCullough

This paper investigates YouTube as a platform and its implications for contemporary communication technology, culture, and politics. The study, influenced by Lacanian psychoanalysis and Jodi Dean's work, explores two main themes: reflexivity in networked communication and the drive as a compulsion within the digital sphere. The first part questions the impact of YouTube's communicative capitalism on the public sphere, discussing how the platform may contribute to the spread of neoliberal rationality and the financialization of daily life. The second part delves into YouTube as a site for participatory discourse, challenging common assumptions through a Lacanian framework of fantasy. The paper also examines the capitalization and potential restriction of communicative and cultural possibilities in internet-based platforms, emphasizing the need for critical analysis to uncover contradictions within the utopic promises of new web technology. The discussion further addresses the challenges posed by YouTube's mythology, analyzing its role in defining and limiting the volume and nature of cultural exchange within the digital realm.

Out For A Stroll: Game Design, Narrative, And Affect In Walking Simulators

Alex Chalk; MA 2017; Supervisor: Jennifer Jenson

This paper explores the emergent genre of "walking simulators" in video game design, challenging conventional notions of gameplay, player agency, and narrative engagement. Focusing on two case studies, "Lieve Oma" (2016) and "Gone Home" (2013), the author examines the unique characteristics of these games, where the primary gameplay involves characters walking in a simulated environment. The paper argues that walking simulators, often criticized for their lack of traditional challenges and meaningful choices, provide a qualitatively different kind of play that emphasizes affective engagement and narrative exploration. The analysis highlights the deliberate design choices, linear narratives, and limited agency in these games, offering a framework to understand alternative design techniques. By adopting a comparative approach based on Bogost's Unit Operations, the paper contributes to the theoretical toolkit for comprehending the evolving landscape of video game design, challenging established norms and encouraging a broader understanding of what constitutes a game.

Making Space for Performing Arts: Lessons from Arts-Oriented Approaches to Land Use in Toronto

Brian Christensen; MA 2023; Supervisor: Louis-Etienne Dubois

This paper considers the theoretical and practical basis by which the City of Toronto moved to subsidize live music venues through property tax policy. Centrally, Toronto’s Creative and Music City agendas are examined in terms of how they inform the City’s policy treatment of arts and culture and the displacement of cultural venues. The Creative Co-Location Facilities Property Tax Subclass serves as a single case study for this research, supported by extensive legislative records and other secondary sources. The findings suggest that the novel subclass policy was the product of a unique confluence of longstanding ‘Creative City’ policy and institutional evolution, as well as short-term variables including the property assessment of a single creative hub, an outgoing Ontario government, and the COVID-19 pandemic. The paper concludes that redistributive mechanisms should be embedded within future creative policy to mitigate against any resulting economic and urban growth pressures on cultural venues. live music venues; property tax; Toronto; creative city; music city; cultural policy

Girls Gotta Give Sex and Relationship Advice: Post-Feminism, Intimacy, and Self-Governance in Podcast Culture

Danielle Collado; MA 2020; Supervisor: Susan Driver

This paper explores the ways in which episodes of the Girls Gotta Eat podcast represent a conflict between the rhetorics of choice and autonomy and the hosts’ presumed authority. A critical discourse analysis found that lack of credibility and recognition of the listeners’ autonomy complicated the hosts’ authoritative status, oversimplifications of success and disregard for rules and regulations highlighted the hosts’ unacknowledged privilege, and the promotion of self-management and self-surveillance threatened the empowering messaging that the hosts had initially strived for. Each of these findings contribute to broader discourses around intimacy, neoliberalism, and post-feminism. The discussion focuses on productive ways for the hosts to incorporate a variety of perspectives into their advice and to acknowledge their trusted positions as a responsibility. Podcast, Intimacy, Advice, Neoliberalism, Post-Feminism

Racialization On Incels.Is: Racial Status and Status Threat

Alanna Cunningham Rogers; MA 2022; Supervisor: Stephen Muzzatti

This project examined the historic-racial schema articulated by involuntarily celibate male members of the online forum Based in a content analysis of images and comments from, it drew on a broad framework informed by double-consciousness, historic-racial and corporeal schemas, hegemonic and hybrid masculinities, and realistic and symbolic threat. This research documented what assumptions shape said schemas, how incels operationalized racial status and status threat, and how racialized and non-racialized incels incorporated those ideas into their corporeal schemas. It found that processes of racialization on the forum were articulated in a manner consistent with the warped ‘handing back’ of racialized identities described by Fanon and Du Bois. Racialization was akin to a process of objectification and racialized incels interpellated limiting core self-evaluations, while non-racialized incels drew on hybridized masculinities to distance themselves from privilege yet sought to entrench it. Involuntary celibacy; incel; masculinities; racialization; blackpill; realistic threat; historic-racial schema; double-consciousness

Fashion, Subversion, and Social Change in Modernist Salons

Madeline Davy; MA 2017; Supervisor: Irene Gammel

Fashion is an integral part of the human experience. More than merely reflecting social, economic and political realities, the pervasive and viral nature of fashion can actually change the cultural realities by challenging the values embedded in certain trends. This is especially true during periods of heightened social upheaval, such as the early twentieth century and the interwar years, when sartorial and social change were promoted by cultural trendsetters such as modernist salonnieres. This Major Research Paper explores the ways in which fashion accrued symbolic meaning in the interwar years as the result of being harnessed by modernist salonnieres such as Natalie Barney, Gertrude Stein and A’Lelia Walker as a vehicle for social change. I do so by drawing on fashion and salon theory and in doing so contribute to discussions in Fashion Studies, as well as Modernism and Gender Studies.

Affective Potentialities of Queer GIFs on Tumblr

Frank DeGregorio; MA 2016; Supervisor: Susan Driver

Since the early 1990s, the Internet has been a site for exploring and sharing queer identities. In a return to the earlier years of queer users participating on the Internet, Tumblr has become a site for exploring identities through the graphics interchange format, or “GIF.” Drawing from GIFs gathered and circulated on the Tumblr page, this major research paper discusses the affective potential GIFs produce through the content, structure, and emotions they share. This paper looks at the history of the GIF file format, earlier uses in popular culture, and its transformation into a means of sharing queer representations in the media. It highlights the format’s potential to produce affect through Sara Ahmed’s The Cultural Politics of Emotion (2004). The paper concludes by discussing the ways in which queer discomfort generates space for creativity while working with heteronorms.

Representations of the crisis in Ethiopia’s Tigray Region in Western Print Media, 2020- Present

Sara Esayas; MA 2022; Supervisor: John Shiga

This research paper offers an examination of Western print news media coverage of the ethnic-based regional conflict in the Tigray region of Ethiopia. The aim of this study is to survey the coverage of the onset of war and the representation of the relevant political actors. It begins with a historical contextualization of ethnic federalism in the nation. I examine how specific ethnic groups are portrayed in Western print news media coverage and if news media are reporting on the role of digital activists. I identify that the reporting of the onset of the crisis in Tigray relies strongly on attribution of responsibility and conflict frames. News media routinely focus on specific political actors rather than deeper ethnic tensions which shaped the country’s political system and the current conflict in Tigray. I also establish that North American news media do not adequately report the role of digital activism within Ethiopia and in the diaspora. Ethiopia; news media; digital activism; ethnic federalism; ethnic conflict; Tigray

Recipes for belonging: The role of food in identity and membership

Mojgan Fay; MA 2016; Supervisor: Mustafa Koç

One cup currants. One teaspoon saffron. Two cups of rice, cooked as per instructions. Ingredients and method are what we follow when cooking a recipe. The narrative of a recipe, however, is much more than ingredients; it’s packed with meaning. This paper is an exploration of recipes as cultural artifacts, cooked in the kitchens of two immigrant women. Interview and cooking sessions with these women prompted memories of cooking with their mothers, placing them geographically between old and new homes and generationally between their mothers and children. From currants to saffron, through a collection of their recipes, this study provides a means of enriching our definition and understanding of recipes, as well as the modes of identity construction embedded within them. recipes; identity; family food practices; culture

Effects of Performance-Based Methods in Teaching of Difference with Youth

Madison Gaudry-Routledge,; MA 2018; Supervisor: Marni Binder

This qualitative research study explored the pragmatic ways in which youth ages 8 - 17 are taught within the Canadian education system, specifically Ontario, on topics of difference and power and how this influences their understanding of the construction of identity and the systemic oppression of marginalized groups. This study aimed to present findings from four elementary and high school educators and their perceptions of implementing performance-based practices with youth as a critical pedagogical tool in order to address issues surrounding difference. Through semi-structured interviews, these educators described their experiences using these methods in their classroom. Using a thematic analysis, this study revealed several benefits of including performative methods in the educational setting but found that there are a number of challenges that could impede the effective implementation of these practices. Including critical performance-based practices in the classroom has the potential to empower youth as they navigate their identities. Racism in education; Intercultural communication; Communication in education; Educational psychology; Motivation in education; Discrimination in education; Community and school; Youth development

Alternative Ways of Historical Knowledge Dissemination: Black History on Instagram

Taia L. Goguen; MA 2023; Supervisor: Cheryl Thompson

Historical knowledge dissemination on social media platforms has become increasingly prevalent in the digital age. However, only few studies focus on the implications of learning historical knowledge from social media platforms, rather than focus on debatable areas of history. This research builds upon two studies in this area of research (Birkner & Donk; 2020, Liu; 2018). This research intervenes in this area of study by focusing on Black history on the social media platform Instagram. This research uncovers how Black history is framed on social media platforms, if and how Instagram users are learning from these Instagram posts, and why social media has become a prevalent tool for historical knowledge dissemination. This is done through a multimodal discourse analysis. This research provides a foundation for further inquiry into this area of study while also highlighting where further research in this area could go. social media; black history; discourse analysis; knowledge dissemination; activism

Spectrum Regime Governance: A Critical Exploration of the Canadian 700 MHz Mobile Broadband Spectrum Auction

Paul Goodrick; MA 2016; Supervisor: Catherine Middleton

This paper explores the Canadian wireless telecommunications industry conditions in the 2008-­‐2014 period, which saw the development of the 700 MHz spectrum policy that was auctioned in early 2014. Taking a political economy approach, the paper provides an introduction to spectrum governance and, using the Policy Objectives of the Telecommunications Act and the goals for using auctions as a spectrum allocation method, analyzes the outcomes of the 700 MHz auction. It argues that neoliberal policy preferences by the governing party were ineffective at producing a more open and objective process or achieving significant social and cultural gains, and increasing, if not maximizing, auction revenues came at the expense of alternative options that may have better served the public good through increased rural coverage and more affordable services. While changes within the policy environment did contribute to an evolution of spectrum assignment policy by Industry Canada between the 2008 AWS and 2014 700 MHz auctions, it was the ability of the ruling Conservative’s to claim economic populist reforms that was the main outcome, not smart telecommunication policy.

Voter Privacy and the Openness Principle: an Examination of Political Party Privacy Policies in Canada and the United Kingdom

Priyana Govindarajah; MA 2020; Supervisor: Jeremy Shtern

Canadian political parties have failed to communicate basic privacy protections to their data subjects in their privacy policies. In order to retain the trust and confidence of the electorate and preserve the integrity of elections, parties must clearly communicate their data practices in their privacy policies and the measures they take to protect personal information. A content analysis is employed to examine the openness principle of privacy policies of federal political parties in the United Kingdom and Canada to assess compliance with an international privacy standard, the OECD privacy framework. This study is timely as protecting personal information and addressing privacy vulnerabilities pertaining to data subjects is vital in the electoral context. Information mismanagement can distort the political and democratic process, as well as interfere with a citizen’s ability to make informed political decisions, hence the need for stronger data protection legislation pertaining to political parties in Canada. Privacy; Privacy Policy; Voter Surveillance; Transparency; Microtargeting; Voter Privacy; Elections; Openness Principle

It’s Not Just Fashion For Fashion’s Sake: Sustainable Fashion Social Media Influencer Ecosystem

Brooke Harrison; MA 2021; Supervisor: Jenna Jacobson

Globally we are witnessing the environmental demise of our planet. Simultaneously, consumers have shown a greater interest in shopping second-hand and the sustainable fashion industry is experiencing rapid growth, which is estimated to reach $8.25 billion by 2031 (Businesswire, 2020). This market acceleration led to the exploration of sustainable fashion social media`influencers. Using semi-structured interviews with 20 sustainable fashion social media influencers, the research analyzes the ecosystem of sustainable fashion social media influencers and makes three unique contributions. First, the research introduces a three-part typology of sustainable fashion social media influencers: 1) sustainable lifestyle influencers, 2) sustainability influencers, and 3) thrifting influencers. Second, the research uncovers how sustainable fashion social media influencers perform vulnerability and sustainability failures in a strategy to portray curated authenticity. Finally, the research identifies “the entrepreneurial dichotomy,” which refers to the challenge that sustainable fashion influencers face when they harmonize their ethos of sustainability and ethics along with their desire to leverage their social media platforms for profit.

The Victorian Origins of Modern BDSM

Jade Hines; MA 2021; Supervisor: Shannon Bell

People have always flirted with the ‘darker’ aspects of desire, those ‘kinky’ interests that include sadomasochism, bondage, discipline, and other fetishes, however it was not until the 19th century that these desires became codified. What was unique about Victorian society that caused BDSM to become defined? How did the socioeconomic realities of the industrial revolution impact how such ‘kinky’ desires were felt, and how did it change how they were expressed? This MRP aims to explore the multitude of factors which may have affected the formation and development of BDSM subcultures and practices throughout Victorian England. By doing so help explore aspects of sexuality that have often been overlooked by mainstream research.

Debating the Niqab: Citizenship and Canadian Values in the 2015 Election Campaign

Amanda Kaminski; MA 2017; Supervisor: Ratiba Hadj-Moussa

This paper explores the transformation of the niqab into a political issue during the 2015 Canadian Federal election, analyzing the debates it generated. Focusing on the intersection of religion, politics, and identity, the study addresses three key questions: the public perception of Muslim religious veils, political leaders' views on the niqab during the election, and how media editorials respond to political discourses. The research reveals how the niqab became a focal point in political narratives, particularly regarding its accommodation during citizenship ceremonies. Employing critical discourse analysis and content analysis, the study evaluates the speeches of political leaders and editorials from The Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star. Applying a postcolonial feminist lens, the paper argues that the niqab debate reflects power dynamics, distorted perceptions of Muslim women, and governmental attempts to regulate their presence in public spaces. The findings contribute to the broader discourse on representation, identity politics, citizenship, and religious discrimination in the Canadian context.

Disneyland in the Living Room: Disney Infinity and the Commodification of Mixed Reality

Andreas Koustas; MA 2016; Supervisor: Paul Moore

This paper examines the impact that a new genre of digital video games, known as “toys-to-life,” has had on the development of marketing strategies of media corporations. Disney Infinity is a leading developer and marketer of this type of game. For this reason, it serves as a case study in the paper. The analytical framework of the paper is based on two theories that are extended to the realm of digital video games: Magaudda’s (2012) re-materialization and Olson’s (2004) environmental simulacra. This hybrid theoretical approach is intended to highlight the ways in which Disney Infinity’s “Toy Box” model reflects a mixed-reality extension of Disney’s cross-promotional initiatives. Disney Infinity’s effectiveness in commodifying play in both the material and virtual domains affords it all the advantages linked to environmental synergy. The paper explores the notions of synergy and the development of commercial supertexts within the context of digital game production. It was found that, in line with the work of Murray (2003) and Blevins (2004), Disney’s digital game development history has demonstrated that the firm is not omnipotent in its ability to leverage cross promotion. The study of Disney’s history shows an initial inability to adapt to rapidly changing market conditions due to digital convergence. Disney Infinity’s subsequent success as a mixed reality platform, rather than being inevitable, was probably the result of advantageous market conditions associated with the commercialization of the "Internet of Things" and the emergence of the “toys-to-life” model.

Public and Ordinary Bad Feelings: Neoliberal Depression and Its Art

Campbell Kramer; MA 2021; Supervisor: David Cecchetto

This paper attends to contemporary literature that looks at depression within wider political, social, and economic contexts. The core scholars examined in this section include Byung-Chul Han, Bernard Stiegler, Naomi Klein, and Michel Foucault. Through a review and critical analysis of their texts, this section of the paper demonstrates that depression should be thought of as a reasonable affective response to neoliberal capitalism. The second half of this paper examines various theories about the relationship between creative practice, art, technology, and neoliberal depression. Authors on this topic include Christine Ross, Ann Cvetkovich, Nicolas Bourriaud, Anthony Dunne, and Fiona Raby. By attending to the intersection of creative practice and neoliberal depression, this paper acts as a survey of the field, thereby uncovering what art can contribute to this vital discourse.

An Exploration of Suicide Reporting in Canadian Newspapers

Siena Maxwell; MA 2020; Supervisor: May Friedman

This paper explores how two large Canadian newspaper outlets cover and publish cases of suicide over the past 41 years. Utilizing a mad studies lens, this research employs critical discourse analysis to illuminate how a medicalized and individualized model of mental illness has dominated the way we view madness. As a result, the coverage of mad individuals who choose suicide consistently pathologizes and blames them, while reinforcing the notions that mad people are violent, criminal and in need of medical control. Also missing from the dialogue is a discussion and recognition of the role of the social, political, cultural, and economic context in which people become mentally distressed. More recently, self-reflexivity on the part of the journalist has grown, impacting the way cases of suicide are covered and discussed. Suicide, Mad Studies, Neoliberalism, Medical Model, Journalism

Shared Bodies: Motherless Daughters and Autobiographical Performativity Through Memorial Tattoo Art

Natalie Morning; MA 2016; Supervisor: Elizabeth Podnieks

This paper delves into the transformative role of memorial tattoo art among motherless daughters, exploring how these women redefine their identities following the premature loss of their mothers. Rooted in Sara Ruddick's maternal thinking and informed by the author's personal experience, the study investigates the 'behind-the-ink' online forum as a platform for sharing stories and using tattoos as a medium for expression and representation. Critiquing intensive motherhood ideologies and the pervasive 'new momism,' the research employs feminist and arts-based inquiry methods to challenge societal norms. Through tattoo narratives, the study seeks to destigmatize motherless daughters, foster a supportive community, and contribute to broader discussions in maternal theory and motherhood studies. Ultimately, the research envisions a future where motherless daughters actively reshape their identities and participate in a radical, community-building potential. Motherless daughters, Memorial tattoo art, Feminist inquiry, Maternal theory, Intensive motherhood, Identity redefinition.

A Case of Social Robots: The Role Media Plays in Technology Perception and Audience Adoption

Caitlin Neve; MA 2022; Supervisor: Frauke Zeller

Past research has established that since robots are not yet common in Western society, most people’s views are based on how they are represented in science fiction versus current reality (Bruckenberger et al., 2013; Teo, 2021). This is the foundational problem for robots as a unique technology where common understanding is based on predisposed stereotypes from decades of pop culture, which can represent an impediment to acceptance. This paper acts as a case study on how media can be leveraged to influence audience acceptance of new technology such as social robots. I evaluate this by measuring the baseline of attitudes towards robots, probing the sources of these beliefs including how they are informed by pop culture, then subsequently quantifying how exposure to nonfiction media can reshape these embedded notions. The goal is to test if there is a lift in positive sentiment when shown marketing videos of an existing robot Pepper by Softbank Robotics. This study had mixed results revealing there is a high degree of skepticism in audiences regarding robots which is a hurdle that must be addressed and overcome to effectively integrate into future society. This MRP is a first account at developing insights for companies and governments on how to successfully drive acceptance of this new technology to facilitate successful Human- Robot Interaction (HRI). The goal is to situate HRI at the intersection of media theory, to analyze diffusion of innovation from a perspective of audience, influence, and acceptance. Social Robots, Human-Robot Interaction, Media, Technology, Audience, Perception, Innovation, Digital, Acceptance, Adoption, Marketing, Communications

The Consequences of Creativity: An Analysis of News Media Discourse on Regent Park’s Housing Crisis and the Creative Boom

Ladia Omoruyi; MA 2023; Supervisor: Miranda Campbell

This paper examines how the creative industry in Toronto is contributing to the gentrification of Regent Park, a historically marginalized neighborhood. Through a content analysis of media representation, this study shows that the ongoing development of Regent Park is discussed in news media primarily as a symbol of urban revitalization and creative cities. However, this paper argues that such a representation of gentrification hides the deep-seated issues of systemic racism and unjust housing practices that have historically impacted the community. The paper highlights how the creative industry, while contributing to the economic growth of the city, has led to the displacement of long-term residents, particularly Black people, from their homes. The paper argues that this ongoing gentrification reinforces social and economic inequalities, perpetuates marginalization, and exacerbates housing insecurity in Regent Park. The study concludes by emphasizing the importance of addressing the root causes of gentrification, including systemic racism, in order to ensure that creative cities benefit all members of the community equitably. Gentrification, creative cities, urban policies, Regent Park, anti-Black housing, representation

Switching the narrative: an exploration of Indigenous-made Films

Tiana Osborne; MA 2023; Supervisor: Ruth Green

Indigenous film offers a place to represent Indigenous sovereignty, explore Indigenous futurity and resist and subvert dominant narratives that are prevalent in society and mainstream media. Mainstream films featuring Indigenous peoples have historically been overpopulated with negative stereotypes that misrepresent a richly diverse, collective culture of multiple nations. Indigenous-made film offers a place of resistance to these hegemonic narratives. What impact do Indigenous women filmmakers have on challenging heteropatriarchal and colonial narratives that exist in the public imaginary? Rooted in gaze theory, this project takes an intersectional feminist approach to demonstrate the impact of films made by Indigenous women and demonstrate the power Indigenous-made film has in constructing an accurate representation of Indigeneity and the experiences of Indigenous women. Current researchers have examined the Indigenous gaze in film (Gauthier, 2015; Topash-Caldwell, 2020; Rice et al., 2020; Gauthier, 2021) and the impact of Indigenous films (Medak-Saltzman, 2017; Sonza, 2018; Romero, 2017; Beadling, 2016). While most researchers within the field use case study or thematic analysis to conduct their research, this project will contribute to this growing field by using a content analysis and semi-structured interviews to analyze Indigenous-made films. Using Indigenous Methodologies to frame this project, this project will conduct a close reading and content analysis to demonstrate the storytelling tactics used in three Indigenous films made by women. Categories chosen for a content analysis are Indigenous Sovereignty, Violence, and Representation of Indigenous Women. To supplement the content analysis, semi-structured interviews with Indigenous filmmakers and industry professionals will be done to provide further analysis of the films analyzed in this project. By conducting interviews, it will center Indigenous women’s voices within the conversation surrounding the impacts of Indigenous film. This project will contribute to the field in further developing research on the Indigenous gaze and its power to confront and subvert heteropatriarchal and colonial narratives. Indigenous film; gaze theory; gender; film; Indigenous studies; representation

Exploration of Trends in Professional Profile Pictures

Soeun Outh; MA 2022; Supervisor: Jeremy Shtern

This paper explored the evolution of professional profile pictures, the influencers who determined original profile pictures, and the historical trends we continue to see in current professional profile pictures. Applying social identity theories, brand theories, and the study of facial appearances, known as physiognomy, this thesis explored professional profile pictures of multiple professions including journalists, faculty and staff at Canadian postsecondary education institutions, photographers, and a career coach. Applying an autoethnographic approach, this thesis is an initial conversation about the systems that created the professional profile picture and the trends that ensued. Headshots; identity; physiognomy; professional profile picture; selfie; self-portrait.

The Cinematic Subterranean: Investigating the Cultural Significance of the Underground Through Film

Nicole Payette; MA 2020; Supervisor: John McCullough

Representations of the material underground are dominated by infernal imagery and vast catacombs, fantastic wizards and mythical beasts, sleek climate-controlled bunkers and modern transportation. As a lived space, the underground is home to labourers, socially ostracized populations, revolutionaries, treasure, toxic waste, and dead bodies. The multifariousness of the underground marks the space as a powerful location through which countless narratives, characters, and meanings are manifested. This Major Research Paper provides an initial step in understanding the underground’s cultural significance by primarily focusing on the representations of the subterranean in film. This research begins by determining three main characteristics of the space: marginalization, interment, and utopianism. These characteristics are subsequently analyzed through the genre of horror, specifically Jordan Peele’s Us (2019), which utilizes the monster figure as the embodiment of the repressed/Other to distinguish the underground as a marginal, interring and utopian space. Underground, Space, Film, Horror, Monster, Marginalization

The Brick Works: A Posthumanist Mapping

Karl Petschke; MA 2017; Supervisor: Markus Reisenleitner

This paper delves into the intricate history and transformative dynamics of The Don Valley Brick Works, an emblematic and politically charged site in Toronto. From its origins as a brick factory in the late 19th century to its post-industrial rejuvenation as the Evergreen Brick Works, the facility embodies the intersection of human and non-human agencies. The study explores the geological foundations of the valley, marked by glacial processes and interglacial periods, emphasizing the diverse forms of life that have shaped the landscape. Over the decades, the site transitioned from a symbol of industrial uniformity to a contested space, inviting reconsideration of ecological engagement and political participation. The narrative unfolds the site's temporal layers, acknowledging Indigenous histories, colonial interventions, and contemporary efforts towards sustainable urban design. Framed within a posthumanist perspective, the paper contemplates the implications of a more-than-human politics, challenging anthropocentric ideologies and advocating for a nuanced understanding of the common life that transcends traditional boundaries. The study calls for ongoing experiments in living in common, emphasizing the need to dismantle restrictive political systems and embrace a posthumanist urbanism to address current ecological challenges.

The 2011 London Riots: A Review of the Stakeholders and a Brief Content Analysis

Brandon Rigato; MA 2016; Supervisor: Stephen Muzzatti

From the Arab Spring to Occupy Wall Street, there have been an increase in the number of international protests in recent years. A common starting point for interpreting the cause of these movements, which are assumed to fight an injustice, is argued to be exacerbated by the global financial crash of 2008. In addition to these two major international protests, there were numerous smaller ones, which took place all across the Western world in the aftermath; Baltimore 2015, Ferguson 2014, Kentucky 2015, London 2011, Toronto 2010, and Vancouver 2011; just to list a few. It is the labelling of events that happens with mass criminality/civil disobedience that drives this research. For this current essay, the 2011 London riots will serve as a case study to illuminate varied views of the same incident and the debates this creates.

Will You Accept This Tweet?: A Look at The Bachelor’s Romantic Relationship with its Live-Tweeting Audience

Danielle Robertson; MA 2018; Supervisor: Liz Podnieks

This paper delves into the enduring phenomenon of ABC's reality television show, "The Bachelor," examining its portrayal of love, marriage, and femininity over 16 years. Focused on the 22nd season, the research scrutinizes the controversial finale and subsequent Twitter engagement. Utilizing theoretical frameworks such as social media logic, active audience theory, and immaterial free labor, the study unveils audience perceptions, storyline immersion, commentary on contestants, media literacy, and criticism of gender and race ideologies. The paper highlights the evolving dynamics of audience engagement in the digital age and underscores the show's cultural significance as a reflection of societal expectations. In emphasizing viewers' active role in shaping the show's narrative, the research contributes valuable insights to the intersection of reality television and social media.

Trans-ing Reproductive Justice: From ‘Private Choice’ to Radical Pluralism

Julia Robertson; MA 2021; Supervisor: Anne F. MacLennan

Abortion exists within discursive, legal and activist frameworks. As a result, reproductive justice is materially limited by the impact of language, formal legal equality, and provisional collaboration. Trans studies examines systems that administer gender. Reproductive justice works towards dismantling healthcare inequities throughout the life cycle by examining social structural contexts while centering the body. Trans-ing reproductive justice frameworks highlight the prison as an example of a system that administers gender in racialized ways that has been used to colonize and continues to disproportionately impact Indigenous and gender-conforming people's access to healthcare. This project looks at radical pluralism to address the impossibility of consensus on abortion and the potential of the legislative vacuum in Canadian abortion law. This paper hopes to shift antagonistic attitudes between abortion-related activists to increase access to reproductive healthcare, including pregnant prisoner reform and projects that promote social equity.

Time, Commodification, and Videogames: a Comparative Study of Animal Crossing: New Leaf and Pokémon Go

Alexander Ross; MA 2018; Supervisor: Jennifer Jenson

Time has played a crucial role in the development of the videogame industry, particularly how games are developed, distributed, marketed, and sold. This paper critically examines how time has been commodified in the “premium” and “freemium” variants of the videogame industry through a comparative analysis of two representative games — Animal Crossing: New Leaf (2012-2013) and Pokémon Go (2016). It draws on a combination of critical political economy and textual analysis to demonstrate how the production, distribution, and consumption of these videogames is affected by how they commodify time. Time is money for the videogame industry and this has had a negative effect on digital play, by creating games that expect a significant investment of time and money for the player to fully enjoy their promised virtual rewards.

Amazon's Re-Construction of Entrepreneurship?

Simin Rouzgard; MA 2023; Supervisor: Stephen Muzzatti

This paper aims to provide a new theoretical framework regarding the individuals' roles in the contemporary labour market, focusing on multinational corporations such as Amazon. With the rise of the digital economy, there has been considerable debate surrounding whether those retailers that sell their products through the Amazon Marketplaces, for example, are either labourers or entrepreneurs. However, it seems neither side of the debate has been able to conceptualize the phenomena comprehensively yet. Given the significant disparity between those individuals and Amazon's warehouse workers, I argue against categorizing them as labourers. I would moreover discuss that the individuals are not entrepreneurs either since they do not fit the standard specifications of entrepreneurship associated with innovation. Considering the aforementioned, I propose that the precarious individuals of the digital economy (i.e., entrepreneurs) are tenants responsible for safeguarding their landlords' (e.g., Amazon's) capital or what I term as (digital) 'land' in this paper. Entrepreneurship; Amazon Marketplace; ownership; land; hegemonization; digital economy

Clinical Trials and Celebrity Smiles: An exploration into the history and practice of selling wellness in the pharmaceutical industry

Ayman Saab; MA 2016; Supervisor: Paul Moore

The marketing and advertising practices of the pharmaceutical industry is a highly debated, but often misunderstood issue. These misconceptions stem from the relatively unknown rules and regulations that pharmaceutical companies work within. Because of the importance of this topic and the prevalence of misconceptions about it, it is important to gain a greater insight into the pharmaceutical industry’s commercial practices in order to digest their messages appropriately and make the right treatment decisions as consumers. This does not just include understanding its current practices and regulation, but how it has evolved over time. This study aims to provide greater insight into the history of pharmaceutical advertising and the regulation of its commercial practices in North America. It will demonstrate that as healthcare and pharmaceutical advertising has had a long history of selling wellness, regulations and government monitoring has developed to ensure a balanced message. At the core of the matter is the concept of products as “satisfiers” – pharmaceutical companies framing their products as solutions to our desires of well-being and health. Jackson Lears’s concept of “therapeutic ethos” is utilized to delve deeper into the actions of the primary consumers (patients and healthcare professionals) and examine the effects of this type of advertising on their treatment and healthcare decisions. Tracing this concept of selling wellness back to its earliest, non-regulated days up to modern day celebrity endorsements of prescription medication, the study aims to provide a clearer understanding of the pharmaceutical industry and its practices through the use of real-world examples and case studies.

Racialized Creatives’ Experiences & Trajectory in Brampton, Ontario

Talveen Kaur Saini; MA 2023; Supervisor: Shana Almeida

The process of racialization codifies race across subjects and objects, as racialization can lead to the discrimination and marginalization of racial Others (Ahmed, 2002). Theorizations of race and place further identify how spaces are also subject to racialization, bordering and hyper- visibilizing racialized populations (Murji & Picker, 2019; Price, 2010). This Major Research Paper examines the trajectories and experiences of 5 racialized artists from Brampton, Ontario, and the racial barriers they experience due to how Brampton is perceived and treated as a racialized site. Semi-structured interviews and a thematic analysis are used in this study to identify and locate the common barriers experienced by Brampton’s artists. This study finds how socio-spatial status can implicate and magnify discrimination within creative spaces, and creative and cultural industries. Racialization; race & place; creative & cultural labour; Brampton

Horses in the Back: Negotiations of Black Identity Through Cowboy Symbolism in American Popular Culture

Brigid Savage; MA 2020; Supervisor: Susan Driver

In 2019 Lil Nas X released a country-trap song called “Old Town Road” that challenges the traditional boundaries of American popular music. This research paper examines the creation, maintenance, and subversion of myths in American popular culture through the lens of the song “Old Town Road.” With Roland Barthes’ work on mythologies as the theoretical framework, this research asks the following question: How does Lil Nas X, a young queer Black man, reshape the popular American iconography of the western cowboy in order to reconstruct mainstream popular culture representations? The research draws upon critical theory from a range of fields, including subculture, postcolonial, and intersectional feminist theory. This study finds that Black Americans have been marginalized by American history through racial stereotypes and strict social boundaries. However, through self-representation in music and style Black creators work to actively rewrite the myths of American identity. American cowboy, Black popular culture; hip hop; country music

Concerning the Neoliberalization of a Differentiated University System in Ontario

Michael Schalk; MA 2016; Supervisor: Alan Sears

This paper examines the historical trajectory of university tuition and program development in Ontario, tracing the complex interplay between funding, autonomy, and the neoliberal agenda from the 1940s to the present. The narrative underscores the struggle between government oversight and university autonomy, with pivotal moments such as the introduction of the Strategic Mandate Agreements and tuition deregulation in the late 1990s. Recent developments, including tuition freezes and the shift towards free tuition for low-income families, are analyzed within the context of neoliberal influences. The conclusion reflects on the evolving nature of Ontario's tertiary sector, highlighting the tension between autonomy and the demand for a more market-driven educational system. The paper contributes to the ongoing discourse on the societal role of universities amid the neoliberal agenda.

Representations of Suffering: A Critical Inquiry into the Images and Rhetoric used by Humanitarian Organizations

Ruth-Anne Seburn; MA 2019; Supervisor: Dana Osborne

The ethics of the image creation practices of modern development and humanitarian Non- Governmental Organizations (NGOs) exist in a complex realm of colonial legacies and historically misguided development approaches. Through a semiotic analysis of the top images on ten Canadian NGO websites, combined with an interview with a Communications Director, this research examines the underlying messages presented about people in the Global South to audiences in the Global North. In order to present legible narratives to an audience of varying perspectives, signs, symbols and allusions which have become enregistered in the cultural lexicon are utilized to present a world that is at once the same as and yet simultaneously widely different from our own. These semiotic tools, which are often used to distract from larger socio- economic inequalities, can be highlighted to not only analyze how people in the Global South are represented, but how they could be represented more truthfully and ethically.

Fostering Economic Transformation Through The Second Hand Economy

Amy Smith; MA 2018; Supervisor: Rosemary Coombe

This paper explores the transformative potential of the second-hand economy within the broader context of economic and environmental sustainability. The author draws on personal experiences growing up on Canada's East Coast, highlighting the cultural roots of thrift and frugality. Framed within theoretical models of diverse economies, solidarity economies, and sharing economies, the paper emphasizes the need to appreciate existing economic practices that embody principles of sustainability. The exploration extends to the role of young women as entrepreneurs in the second-hand economy, considering their impact on social networks and convenience. The author advocates for mobilizing knowledge to attract investment and policy support, promoting the benefits for consumers, producers, entrepreneurs, and the environment. The paper concludes with a commitment to an interventionist approach to scholarship, actively contributing to economic transformation and sustainability.

Gender construction in Muslim Tween Stories: A Discourse of Intersectionality of Religious and Gender Representations

Erni Suparti; MA 2019; Supervisor: Natalie Coulter

The following study set out to examine the creative works of five Muslim tweens in Toronto, Canada, with focus on analysing the intersectionality of religious and gender representations in their works. Theoretical framework underlining this study is a discourse on visual representation of female Muslim characters, hybrid construction of gender, religious values, and media consumption. The primary research questions of this study are; (1) How do Muslim tween girls reproduce meaning and construct gender identity in their creative works? (2) How do their stories intersect gender construction with their religious background and media consumption? The results of this study revealed the hijab (Muslim head scarf) as significant visual representation of female Muslim characters in young adults’ stories. It affirms hybrid representation of gender, religious and media consumption which, in turn demonstrates Muslim tweens mitigation in gender construction. This study also reveals the fluidity of domination which explores aspects such as new context of non-existent male-characters, religious identity and kindness as the indicator of perceived beauty. Additionally, some of these tweens associate feminine identity and representation with nature which is deeply rooted in Western fairy tales and religious values (Judeo-Christian and Islam).

Barbie Savior: Politicizing Voluntourism Through Instagram Parody

Anastazya Vydelingum; MA 2019; Supervisor: Natalie Coulter

This paper explores the Barbie Savior parody Instagram account to understand how the account attempts to politicize voluntourist/local relationships and how its posts constitute a strategy of social critique. Barbie Savior Instagram posts parody the white saviour complex enacted by short term missionaries who post their volunteer experiences on social media. A mixed methods approach provides quantitative and qualitative insights into how this intersectional critique addresses the phenomenon of voluntourist selfies on Instagram that promote a self-brand centered on touristic and religious authenticity through strategic use of captions and hashtags. Voluntourism; Short Term Missions; Instagram; Parody; White Saviour Complex; Authenticity

Alternative Spaces, Alternative Possibilities: Reimagining Space in Contemporary Canadian Dystopian Fiction

Hannah Warkentin; MA 2019; Supervisor: Ruth Panofsky

This paper examines how dystopian fiction opens up a productive space for disrupting naturalized assumptions, and shifting our understanding of taken-for-granted spaces. Drawing on Doreen Massey’s (2005) proposal that space must be seen as the product of constant interrelations, I argue that dystopian literature can similarly prompt us to reconsider our relationship to the spaces we inhabit. Using the concept of the “critical dystopia,” I examine how dystopian frameworks are operationalized in the Canadian context through a comparative analysis of two novels that speculate distinctly Canadian dystopian futures: Larissa Lai’s Salt Fish Girl (2002) and M.G. Vassanji’s Nostalgia (2016). By applying Massey’s theorization of space—its multiplicities, complexities, and political potentialities—to an examination of how Canadian spaces are transformed in the dystopian context, I then analyze how those representations challenge the spatial ideologies associated with globalization, and resist the neoliberal view of space as a surface to be crossed and conquered (Massey, 2005).

Grief in an Indigenous Framework

Jeanine Webster; MA 2023; Supervisor: Miranda Campbell

This research paper delves into the intricacies of grief through an Indigenous lens, comparing its interpretation to conventional views. While conventional understanding portrays grief as an individual's emotional response to personal loss, this study contends that, from an Indigenous perspective, grief is a communal sentiment and an appropriate and reasonable response to living in a colonial environment. The ongoing colonial structures within colonial environments are supported by government or university policies, creating hidden systemic barriers for Indigenous students. In this study, I draw on my experience as a university Academic Coordinator and as an Indigenous graduate student to highlight barriers and make suggestions to improve the educational experience of Indigenous students. Moreover, I honour an Indigenous methodology through storytelling and personal insights to acknowledge the inevitability of bias, rooted in Western cultural influence, thereby transparently contextualizing my standpoint. Indigenous Peoples, Grief, Indigenous Students, Collective Experience, Resilience

Out Of Sight: Haptic Perception In Ubiquitous Computing

Nicholas White; MA 2016; Supervisor: Murray Pomerance

In this paper, I will investigate how ubiquitous computing presents a new paradigm through which digital information can be brought into contact with the body through our perceptual capacities for tactility (the skin’s capacity for touch and feeling) and kinaesthesia (the body’s awareness of its position and movement in relation to space and objects outside of itself). This investigation presents an opportunity for re-evaluating the importance of physical touch as an embodied and subjective mode of experience, which is often overlooked in our visuallybiased cultural landscape. The emergence of ubicomp enables the physical world of tactile objects and environments to become a medium for digital interaction. This ongoing technological development resonates with the pre-modern definition of media as environments that produce and sustain existence (Peters, 3), foregrounding not only materialist but also ontological aspects of media, erasing the boundary between the virtual and the physical, the technological, and the natural. The environmental approach to media studies finds its origin with The Toronto School of communication theory, starting with Eric Havelock and Harold Innes, and was further developed by Northrop Frye and Marshall McLuhan. The area was subsequently coined by Neil Postman as “media ecology” (Gencarelli, 201). 

Take Off, Eh?: White Normativity and the Canadian Hoser

Hannah Willis; MA 2022; Supervisor: Paul Moore

The “hoser” in Canadian television comedies conflates whiteness and Canadian identity, rejecting multiculturalism. Through a discourse analysis of the first seasons of The Red Green Show, Trailer Park Boys, Letterkenny as well as the “Bob and Doug Mackenzie” sketches in season three of SCTV, this paper codifies the practices, language and narratives of the type. The hoser’s popularity reinforces an imaginary binary between white, rural, settler Canada and the progressive Canada of urban multiculturalism. The hoser is strategically positioned as a normative form of Canadian identity, and by extension, multiculturalism is left entirely invisible in these outlets of popular culture, without its own codes, practices, language and narratives, silently acting as an empty signifier representing what the hoser is not. The popularity of the hoser contributes to erasing the existence of marginalized communities from rural Canadian memory, and can be used to justify racist and discriminatory politics, policies and practices. National identity; television; Canadian studies; hoser; whiteness; multiculturalism

Ludic Arcade: An Observational Pop-Up Arcade Research Project

Amanda Wong; MA 2016; Supervisor: Paul Moore

In this paper, I present observations and reflections of a pop-up arcade project that was used as both an experimental and interactive form of research. This was an investigation of how to create and promote an inclusive video gaming space. Ludic Arcade is a combination of curatorial exhibition and ethnographic practice as an interventionist tool for the mediation of procured space. Through the discovery of local game development, I explore the possibilities of promoting and supporting the non-mainstream practices as evidence that alternative forms of video game culture can thrive in different environments. The goal of this project focuses on developing methods and strategies that aim to promote the inclusivity and diversity of video game environments. videogames; game curation; new arcade; inclusive practices; Toronto Media and Culture

To See and Be Seen - A Toolkit For Facilitating Arts-Based Workshops With Refugee Youth

Özge Dilan Arslan; MA 2021; Supervisor: Miranda Campbell

To See and Be Seen is a best practices guideline for those who intend to facilitate an arts-based workshop with refugee youth. By using a critical refugee studies and youth-focused arts-based participatory action framework, the aim of this project-paper is to create an adaptable resource that enables facilitators to critically, ethically, and reflexively execute an arts engagement workshop of their own. The accompanying toolkit translates the six primary subsections (articulating intentions, workshop facilitation, planning considerations, recruitment of participants, workshop preparation, and workshop substance) into an experiential practice-based resource for future facilitators.

The Artel: Collectivity and Identity (A Film)

Alexandra Berceanu; MA 2016; Supervisor: Robert Latham

"The Artel: Collectivity and Identity" is a documentary film exploring the life and challenges of an arts collective housing co-operative in Kingston, Ontario. From its inception in 2005, the film navigates the complex interplay between The Artel, local arts dynamics, and government agendas. Set against Kingston's unique socio-economic context, the project addresses the collective's mission, economic pressures, and its role in cultural sustainability. By employing narrative analysis and interviews, the film challenges traditional archival practices, emphasizing subjective experiences and phenomenological traces. Grounded in Lacanian psychoanalysis and poststructuralism, it delves into trauma, desire, and the construction of collective memory. The documentary contributes insights into grassroots initiatives, cultural policy, and urban studies, prompting reflection on the transformative power of collective action and its enduring impact on cultural identities.

Mind & Matter: A Durational Performance Using Visualized, Sonified, and Other Data Translation from Portable EEG Technologies In Mental and Physical Training

Nene Brode; MA 2019; Supervisor: Izabella Pruska-Oldenhof

In the moment of complete engagement in any activity, we function without conscious thought—referred to as ‘the zone.’ Digital technologies, from mobile devices to the Internet, can be a constant source of diversion; however, can digital tools help us get into the zone more quickly rather than simply distract us? Using open-source software and hardware, I have developed a real-time data visualization and sonification that have been recorded as performances on the website Mind & Matter, the project accompanying this paper. The performances are filmed in different locations and the visualization geolocates these locations, comparing them to the cell towers within the area. The project seeks to show waves within and around our body that are normally invisible. Each performance seeks to train both my brain and body to find stillness within. The paper is informed by the communications theorists and artists studied throughout the Communications and Culture program. I seek to answer Catherine Malabou’s question of “What We Should Do with Our Brains,” and how we might find agency in our brain plasticity though technological extension.

How Can Instagram be a Better Space for You?

Meredith Burling; MA 2021; Supervisor: Natalie Coulter

The major research questions of this paper and project are: how can Instagram be a better space for young girls? Which accounts and hashtags on Instagram can create an outlet for girls? On Instagram, some women edit their photos where they take in their waistlines and erase their acne; others use beauty filters where their faces are automatically changed to appear more beautiful (Tiggemann, Hayden, Brown, & Veldhuis, 2018). Teen girls aged 14-17 are using Instagram and it is evident that Instagram impacts their mental health. It is also apparent that Instagram can be a great outlet for girls (Li, Chang, Chua & Loh, 2018). However, there is a lack of resource materials for teen girls surrounding this topic (Li, Chang, Chua & Loh, 2018). Based on this reasoning, an infographic tool about how Instagram can be a better space for teen girls accompanies this paper. This paper and infographic will hopefully evoke conversations among girls. I believe that girls should be aware of different hashtags and accounts that are designed to spread positivity to enhance their experiences on Instagram (Li, Chang, Chua & Loh, 2018). Communication, Women, Instagram, Social Media

Stitching the Story of Chinese-Canadian Histories: Quilting as an Archival Medium and Research-Praxis

Holly Chang; MA 2021; Supervisor: Monique Tschofen

Stitching the story of Chinese Canadian Histories: Quilting as an Archival Medium and Research-Praxis develops new ways of retelling the stories of Chinese Canadians. This project retrieves photographic material and textual ephemera about Chinese Canadian history from Canadian archives and repurposes/recycles it in a series of quilts. In this project, histories, stories and photographic archives are placed within the space of five quilts. The space of the quilt challenged what we consider history, how we access it and how we can derive meaning through how we access textile media in domestic spaces. This project utilizes research-creation to present history in quilts that are accessible and tangible to Canadian communities and offers an opportunity to learn and engage with the gaps in our historical record. Chinese Canadians, History, Quilting, Archives, Critical Race Theory, Feminist Crafting

CKCU FM: a case study in long term voluntarism in community / campus radio stations

Esmee Colbourne; MA 2023; Supervisor: Anne F. MacLennan

This work is a case study of CKCU 91.3FM and the long-term voluntarism at the station. One of the oldest hybrid stations in Canada, it is celebrating 50 years on the air in 2025. Consisting of 14 interviews with the station’s volunteers and archival research based largely upon the CKCU Corporate Archives, this investigation allows for an examination that goes beyond academic literature, external documents in newspapers and official documentation. The research objective of this study was to learn more about the relationship between community radio, volunteers, and long-term involvement with the station, and to strategize a way to support a new generation of volunteers. It was found that length of volunteer membership at CKCU was linked to love of music, in person engagement, and a perception of beneficial personal and community growth. Radio; radio in Canada; media studies; Ottawa, ON; volunteering; community archives

Small Town Creative Communities of Conviviality: A Case Study of Sackville, New Brunswick

Max Cotter; MA 2020; Supervisor: Miranda Campbell

This project uses Sackville, New Brunswick as a case study for small town creative communities, exploring the advantages and disadvantages of small towns for cultural workers, also offering insight into what draws artists to these communities. A tension exists between cultural producers and urban life, as the rising cost of living in cities jeopardizes affordable rent for arts venues and housing for cultural workers. The town of Sackville is home to a liberal arts university, artist-run centres, galleries, music festivals, and many urban expat artists, with a cost of living well below that of cities. Engaging Sackville’s artist population to collect oral histories, this project identifies themes regarding their reasoning for seeking out a small town community. Culminating in an hour-long audio documentary, this project addresses how smaller communities foster creativity, collaboration, and conviviality, and how a lower cost of living and rural landscape impact the cultural producer.

Walking the map & tracing the territory

Patricio Davila; MA 2016; Supervisor: Greg Elmer

"Walking the Map & Tracing the Territory" is a locative media project created to investigate the relationship between the visual representation and aural/physical experience of space through the roles of mapper and walker. Both forms of knowing a space have biases that privilege certain aspects of space. While visual representation on a map totalizes space and emphasizes the spatial relationship between objects, aural/physical experience emphasizes the evanescent quality of walking and narrative. This exploration has led to the idea that space is physical but also represented, experienced and recreated constantly through its use. The project has drawn on the work of various locative artists such as Janet Cardiff and Rimini Protokoll to understand the way that story, listening and walking can inform one's perception of space. The work of Michel de Certeau has also been used to understand how one creates space through the subjective negotiation of place. Finally, the creation process ofthe installation, using consumer electronics, open-source software and programming languages has also been used as a way of looking at how space is articulated through this technology and how it mediates the mapper's and walker's perception of map and territory. Space perception; Geographical perception; Installations (Art); Geography; Social aspects; Visual communication

Games as Pedagogy: A Postmortem of Recall of Duty: Modern Empire

Aaron Demeter; MA 2021; Supervisor: Paul Moore

Accompanying the video game ReCall of Duty: Modern Empire, this paper examines the development process to determine if the game effectively communicates its thesis, as well as the usefulness of research creation overall. The game acts as a critique of the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare franchise, putting the player in a war simulator to show how Modern Warfare games rely on orientalism to justify war in the Middle East. The paper contextualizes the game within the independent game scene as well as academic literature. The key literature is a synthesis of Edward Said’s orientalism with Ian Bogost’s procedural rhetoric. We dissect the creation process and separate the game into four themes for analysis: Aesthetics, Mechanics/Dynamics, Gender, and the Military Entertainment Complex. The analysis finds that by embracing creative mediums, both the game and research creation as a method are effective at producing engaging and accessible research. Call of Duty; orientalism; research creation; video games; procedural rhetoric

News Personalization: Do Journalism Audiences Prefer Algorithms Over Editors?

Stuart Duncan; MA 2021; Supervisor: Charles Davis

This project-paper explores what motivates news organizations to employ algorithmically driven news personalization techniques and develops a methodology to determine whether journalism audiences have a preference between story lineups determined by an editor or by an algorithm. This work also examines whether news personalization systems meet the information needs of news audiences and works to determine what algorithmic approaches could better meet these needs. Through the creation of a simple online news personalization system, this project has developed a method driven by analytic measurement coupled with a survey approach to determine audience opinions on news recommendation systems. A small user study was conducted that supported the feasibility of the system as a research tool and identified possible improvements to my methodological choices. The research presented as part of this project-paper found that news organizations use news personalization systems for a variety of economic and editorial reasons. This paper also explores the social impacts of news personalization techniques and posits that there is nothing inherent to the design of personalization systems that precludes supporting the democratic and social ideals of journalism. algorithms, personalization, journalism, online news, gatekeeping

Both Sides: Archiving The Found Family Photo

Sara Edwards; MA 2017; Supervisor: Izabella Pruska-Oldenhof

Both Sides: Archiving the Found Family Photo master’s project consists of an interactive digital archive created in Klynt, which houses digital versions of the found photographs, and a public archive-inspired exhibit that was held at TMU’s Image Arts gallery from June 25th to July 13th, 2017. The project is an exploration in creating a web-based archive inspired project, as well as an aesthetic interpretation of found photographic materials that are stripped of their original context and meaning. This paper will discuss the theoretical framework that guided my project, the various archive-inspired artists who have influenced my work, and my creative process and the obstacles I encountered along the way. As will be made clear in this paper, the nature of archives is fragmentary and constantly changing; so it follows in logic, that there will be no totalizing view of archives and their conceivable potential. Situating myself as an artist, collector and curator, my master’s project has two main goals: that of investigating the processes involved in the creation of an online archive-inspired project and in curating an exhibition of a personal collection and of art inspired by its contents. I address these goals through a critical interpretation of the concept of an archive while reflecting on the practice of collecting vernacular photographs.

Public Legal Education Podcasting for Newcomers in Ontario

Meera Govindasamy; MA 2019; Supervisor: Marusya Bociurkiw

Due to the high cost of legal advice, language barriers, and other matters of social inequality, newcomers to Canada often have difficulty accessing legal information and resolving their legal problems. My Participatory Action Research (PAR) project aims to better understand the barriers newcomers face to accessing their legal rights, as well as to improve access to workers’ and tenants’ rights through the creation of Rights Bites, a legal rights audio podcast. Each podcast episode features interviews with newcomers, community workers, and lawyers, who share personal experiences and practical legal rights information about common housing and employment law problems. By applying affect theory as a lens for examining the podcast interviews, as well as the PAR process more broadly I argue that the complex expressions of anger, fear, distress, and pleasure displayed by my immigrant interviewees is a form of cultural citizenship, which reimagines belonging as a contested and ongoing project.

Circle Of Aunties: Fostering Co-Conspiratorship With Families Of MMIWGT2S In The Resistance of Settler Colonial Violence

Laura Heidenheim; MA 2019; Supervisor: Lila Pine

This paper details the co-research creation project “Circle of Aunties” outlining our processes, contributions and key learnings. The paper will begin by locating the author and the project’s approach and move to detailing our process - exploring the Circle of Aunties toolkit and the co- research creation process. The paper will then outline the contribution this project makes to educational tools that create awareness around racialized gender-based violence in Canada and its relationship to existing literature regarding co-conspirator work. Co-conspirator/accomplice work are “alternative framework(s)” to allyship which call for “white scholars and activists to act as accomplices, working in solidarity with people of color within social justice and anti-racist movements” (Powell Kelly, 42). This paper explores our process of co-conspiratorship, bringing our project into conversation with contemporary anti-colonial efforts and calling for the prefacing of relationship in anti-colonial projects. Co-conspiratorship; Accomplice; MMIWGT2S; Racialized Gendered Violence; Settler Colonial Violence; Settler Colonialism; Curriculum

Performance of language: A comparative linguistic study on news from China and Italy during the Covid-19 pandemic

Meng Jian; MA 2022; Supervisor: Jamin Pelkey

The project is a comparative linguistic study on the COVID-19 coverage about China and Italy during the first 3-months of 2020 from the Canadian news program The National. It includes a research paper and a website featuring an animation displaying information silenced by mainstream media. The theoretical framework of the paper is situated within language ideology and is guided by Corpus-Assisted Discourse Studies methodology. Through patterns discovered in the research, it aims to detect the contrareity in the language that The National used between the two countries, and the strategies employed in the performance of “respectable racism” (Antonius, 2002) on China. The animation enunciates the incongruity between the two countries by juxtaposing the prejudiced words used implicitly in China’s corpora with the words in Italy’s corpora. This project hopes to disrupt the status quo in the information dissemination dictated by mainstream media which ostracizes the Chinese community and divides Canadians. Canadian media; COVID-19; corpus linguistics; cross-linguistic corpus-assisted discourse; communication; China


Ivona Jozinovic; MA 2017; Supervisor: John McCullough

I will begin the project paper by introducing the untranslatable as a concept, as it is redefined in both my paper, and project. The paper will then delineate the genesis of the project, my artists’ book, and the intentions behind its creation. The process of its making, and its shortcomings, these too, will be under consideration. The creation of the book will be followed by case studies that ruminate, and expand on, aspects of the untranslatable. These case studies will assist in defining the untranslatable and provide a context for its theoretical framework and relevance; in particular they will show the variety of theorists who have also considered the untranslatable, simply in different terms.

Generation X marks the spot on shifting Black Culture: What four GenX’ers did to activate and co-create a new kind of Caribbean-Canadian culture in Toronto

Dayo Kefentse; MA 2021; Supervisor: Jamin Pelkey

In African traditions, oral history enables stories to be passed on to future generations. In that spirit, this research/creation documents unwritten stories of “Generation X” individuals who were raised as Caribbean-Canadians in and around Toronto during the 1970s and 1980s. This diasporic group bore witness to a tumultuous era for Black people living in larger Canadian cities. While the stories of their parents are generally well preserved, Gen-X experiences and contributions to Canadian culture from this period are sparsely documented. This paper/project addresses this gap by producing a digital oral history that contributes to the ongoing theorization of diasporas. Drawing on archived material and live interviews, I produced an audio documentary based on the views, feelings, and experiences of research participants from this era. Blossoming before their accomplishments could be tracked via the internet, I show how they were pioneers in creating a new kind of Canadian.

Lyrebirds: A Concept Album Exploring Catachresis In Popular Music Styles

Michael Lisinski; MA 2018; Supervisor: Jody Berland

This paper describes the theory and practice behind the creation of my accompanying concept album Lyrebirds. The concept album’s main focus is the implementation of catachresis – a traditionally linguistic or poetic trope which operates as an ‘abuse’ or ‘extension’ of metaphor – into popular music composition. I use Derrida’s (1982b) work on catachresis’ irruptions of meaning and Lakoff & Johnson’s (1980; 1999) work on conceptual metaphor to argue that music is both experienced metaphorically and capable of engendering catachresis. Building on this, I adopt Chrzanowska-Kluczewska’s (2011) dissection of catachresis into three basic types. I then use Fauconnier & Turner’s (2002) blending theory in order to ascertain the specifics of what may happen mentally when catachresis is experienced, and how composers may draw upon these mental processes when writing music. The final section of the essay describes my creative process based on these findings and the catachrestic compositional strategies I developed in order to write the music for Lyrebirds.

re:TO: Pursuing urban re-imaginaries through an affected ontological inquiry into the Capitalocene in Toronto

Ashley McClintock; MA 2021; Supervisor: Natalie Coulter

This project embraces the more-than-human-turn by building upon two concepts, one from the environmental humanities and one from climate communications: from the environmental humanities, the Capitalocene thesis; and from climate communications, the localisation concept. These two theories are brought together in a praxis project utilizing walking and autoethnographic research methodologies in an affective, ontological inquiry into the researcher's experience of Capitalogenic climate change within her city, Toronto. The hypothesis states that disrupting everyday patterns of city life through critical sensory walking inquiry into place creates potential for localising Capitalogenic conditions, thereby further creating cognitive space to reimagine possibilities within her daily life in Toronto. Hypothesis is guided by three research questions - (1) How does the researcher, a Torontonian, perceive Capitalogenic climate change conditions within the city?, (2) Can walking research methodologies be used for reimagining urban realities during the Capitalocene?, and (3) Can walking-as-localising research be a means to inspire mitigation and adaptation efforts among other Torontonians? Documentation of autoethnographic processes on the website becomes a model for citizen walking research during Capitalogenic climate change in Toronto.

What Does Collaborative Feminist Art-Making Look Like (in a Pandemic)?: Zines as Feminist Praxis

Rebecca McGinn; MA 2022; Supervisor: Natalie Coulter

This project explores the process of collaborative writing and collective expression of the pandemic through a feminist lens. In six weekly two-hour long collaborative virtual workshops with five people (including myself), we worked together to creatively express our experiences from the last two years. During the workshops, I acted as facilitator and program manager of the group, keeping us on track to maintain a collaborative feminist mindset and compiling our work to create our collective zine, Choral Work. My guiding questions were: What can these co-authors learn when they become this collective? How can this zine serve as a pedagogical tool during this process? I documented this process through journaling and art-making. Combining those creative practices with autoethnographic writing, this project-paper serves as an example of how zines are a feminist praxis and the importance of collaborative art-making as a tool for knowledge mobilization. Zine-making, feminist praxis; collaborative art-making; process as creation; knowledge-production.

Towards Proprioceptive Storytelling: Unfolding Perceptual Narrative Structures in a VR Documentary

Nikole McGregor; MA 2022; Supervisor: Izabella Pruska-Oldenhof

This research-creation project explores how virtual reality's influence on the body's proprioception can enrich a film's relational performance beyond visual and auditory rhetoric toward the transmission of embodied signification. The paper provides an overview of the creation of the expanded documentary Homeland of Aliens, which uses a perception-based narrative enabled by virtual reality's aesthetic and phenomenological affordances. As aesthetic concepts connect to notions of perception, taste, and feeling, the paper includes a framework for virtual aesthetics articulated through existing analyses of aesthetics. Virtual reality can effectively build a world of narrative that relies upon perception since signification forms within the viewer, who must dwell in their resources of embodied emotion, building a relationship with imagery, dreams, and memory. This research engages with its inquiry not only as a way of producing but as a way of experiencing knowledge. Virtual reality; Embodiment; Phenomenology; Proprioception; Relational cinema, Expanded documentary.

Spaces of Care / Photography as Queer Racialized Affective Archives: A Collaborative Project

Pauline Nguyen; MA 2022; Supervisor: Art Blake

This participatory research-creation project brings together the photovoice method and queer personal archives to look at how the ephemeral, feelings-based aspects of queer and trans racialized young people’s experiences of ‘spaces of care’ can be shared through photograph- making. Through the facilitation of four photovoice workshops with three other queer/trans racialized identified young people, each collaborator created 35mm photographs related to the theme ‘spaces of care,’ culminating in a collective zine. The process of coming together to share ideas, feelings, and experiences is as important as the making of artwork itself. In focusing on the archival possibilities that arise from a qualitative arts-based method (photovoice) that is not typically concerned with issues of the archive, this project simultaneously critiques photovoice and asks: how might affective attachments to spaces of (queer) care, as fundamentally ungraspable and ephemeral experiences, be brought into the queer archive through photograph-making? Queer studies; personal archives; affect; participatory arts-based research; photovoice; community arts.

Screening (Im)Materiality: On Virtually Programming Planetary Ruins & Other Possibilities

Dhvani Ramanujam; MA 2022; Supervisor: Monique Tschofen

This project-paper considers the practice of screening moving images in a digital context, through a critical examination of programming planetary ruins & other possibilities (2022) an online, international film program of five experimental film works that explore the ecological and geological as forms of media, archival sites, and spaces for speculative mapping. I situate my own account of organizing a film exhibition in broader literature on film programming and screen cultures, while also contextualizing my practice of programming within a larger framework of research-creation pedagogy. In retracing the steps of the programming process, I ultimately consider how moving image art is mediated by a digital interface, reflecting on what happens when an exhibition moves away from the physical space of the gallery to the hybrid virtual and often domestic space(s) of our phones, our laptops, and our homes.

Feeled Recordings: An Embodied Explorationof Archival Ephemera

Emma Jane Sharpe; MA 2018; Supervisor: Monique Tschofen

Feeled Recordings delves into the paradoxical preference for tangible print media amidst the digital age's screen-dominated landscape. Situated within the artist-run center Art Metropole, the project unfolds in three stages, starting with a workshop that elicits participants' sensory responses to archival print material. These reactions are distilled into keywords, integrated into the digital archive, and later compiled into a print publication alongside photographs. The paper contextualizes the project within evolving creative reactions to digital growth, exploring key themes such as media and the body, the entanglement of digital and physical realms, and the materiality of artists' books. Feeled Recordings invites reflection on changing sensory relationships with media, celebrating the act of making and emphasizing the project's value lies in its process, fostering a nuanced understanding of affect, subjectivity, and feeling in media consumption. tangible media; digital age; sensory relationships; artist-run centers; affective experiences.

Sex Scenes: Exploring the Use of Theatre of the Oppressed to Expand on Adult Sex Education Discourse

Alannah Taylor; MA 2022; Supervisor: Natalie Alvarez

Comprehensive sex education does not exist in Ontario at any age demographic. This project proposes arts-based pedagogies as part of the strategy to correct this knowledge deficit. Documenting the theory and practice related to the development of a theatrical script aimed at expanding sexual education discourse and learning into adulthood, this research-creation project works to uncover how work can be done to destigmatize sex and develop a productive and all-encompassing societal discourse on the topic. By incorporating Theatre of the Oppressed, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, and Participatory Action Research, the research methodology focused on inclusion in data gathering and knowledge mobilization. This methodology included surveys (n=19) to build an understanding of sex education experiences in Ontario, working with a team of student devisors to incorporate these stories into a well-rounded and inclusive script, as well as a summary and reflection upon this process. In future iterations of this project, the work could be expanded by using similar methodologies to focus on specific communities, engaging with any equity-deserving group to build educational discourse and awareness.

Informational video storytelling for children by children: exploring new directions in learning and making media in the classroom

Tatyana Terzopoulos; MA 2017; Supervisor: Jennifer Jenson

This research makes a case for the importance of children-specific non-fiction media content in a digital age. Drawing from my professional experience making children’s television, I piloted a media education and video production curriculum with a grade eight class at an independent, all-girls school in Toronto, Canada. This paper contextualizes my research by outlining the informing framework of participatory culture and several related concepts which intersect media studies, children’s culture, and pedagogy; it also presents my reflections on creating and testing the curriculum. To both complement my creative research-as-practice and participatory action research approach and chronicle the research project, I created a website ( It features curriculum materials and research documents, including samples of the students’ work and their reflections; I also produced a short video that incorporates a mix of student and researcher video footage to illustrate one group’s experience creating their final project.

The instruction is to tell someone: disclosures of gender-based violence post #metoo

Jana Vigor; MA 2021; Supervisor: Izabella Pruska-Oldenhof

Since its emergence, the #metoo movement has elicited countless narratives. People with experiences of gender-based violence are encouraged to perform their stories for the public or realms of networked publics or counterpublics. This research-creation project is a collaborative investigation into the process of disclosure and how telling a story of violence varies across time and setting, impacting the formation of subjectivity and cultural positions of victim or survivor. The project was installed in an empty city lot as a silent moving-image of the spectrographic data of two voices in dialogue. The artwork displays only visual sonic information like rhythm, timbre, pitch, and harmonics, as well as the space of silence and listening while the narrative content is muted. The piece’s silence enacts a melancholic resistance to the prevalence of survivor narratives that uphold neoliberal ideals of personal expression and effort as avenues for healing and wholeness. It also attends to the importance of dynamic dialogue and to the necessity of an engaged listening partner to a person’s telling. This accompanying project-paper summarizes the project’s methodology, creation, and installation. It engages with theories of sound and listening, trauma, resilience, melancholy, and commitments to ethical engagement with non-violence. This project paper investigates the varied uses of disclosures of gender-based violence under neoliberal white supremacist hetero-patriarchy and how the spectacle of overcoming is utilized to uphold systems of gendered power relations and socio-economic inequality. research-creation, #metoo, gender-based violence, dialogue, listening

Single Motherhood, Media, Methods, and Messiness: Exploring Virtual Reality as a Tool for Autobiographical Expression

Katherine Womby; MA 2020; Supervisor: Elizabeth Podnieks

This research/creation project documents my experiences of living as a single mother with minimal financial, family, and social support. Since research suggests that virtual reality (VR) can generate heightened empathetic response in users, I chose to develop my story using VR as the primary creative tool. This study required engagement with the creative and methodological approaches of arts-based research—a process of learning-by-making that prompts questions and reflections on ethics, techniques, aesthetics, value, and subjectivity. The finished project, then, is an exploration of my journey not only as a single mother, but also as a researcher exploring emerging technological affordances and their capacity to engender empathy and serve as tools of autobiographical expression. In this way, the work could further be understood as contributing to the emerging field of autotheory, in which the researcher’s subjective and embodied experience is integrated with theoretical and philosophical approaches.

Contestable Confessions of the Untranslatable: A Worldmaking Project

Lucy Wowk; MA 2021; Supervisor: Miranda Campbell

This research-creation project is an experimental translation of Claude Cahun’s book Aveux non avenus (1930), culminating in an artists’ book of image and text documenting the process. This approach suggests an alternative to biographization of the life and work of Cahun. It seeks to unpack how experimental translation, rooted in affect theory, might offer supplemental modes of interpretation and understanding that complicate, rather than render palatable, the complexity of a persons’ life/work. The emergent genre of female philosophical fiction is simultaneously engaged and interrogated—questions of categorization and transgression become central to the process. The arts-based methodology seeks to unpack and understand genre from the inside out. Ultimately, translation is framed as a metaphor for understanding, and worldmaking emerges as vital to processes of reading and writing.

Solutions to Microaggression in the 'Postracial' Canadian Workplace

Mackenzie Agard; MA 2023; Supervisor: Anne MacLennan

Despite its prefix, the lasting impact microaggressive behaviour has on racialized people is no small thing. This thesis investigates microaggression as a cultural phenomenon, providing new insights on the connection between covert racism, socialization, and workplace culture. Postracial beliefs favour the idea that society has overcome or is beyond racism, that racist behaviour is the exception not the rule. As postracialism interacts with Canada’s national image, it further obscures damaging ideologies affecting how we understand professional culture and ways to make more inclusive workplaces. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with racialized employees to gather first-hand accounts of the barriers to the integration of equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) in the professional landscape of the Greater Toronto Area. Thematic and framing analysis lend themselves to the analysis, identifying solutions and strategies to cope with and mitigate microaggression at work through three frames: racialization, meritocracy, and professionalism. critical race theory, microaggression, equity, anti-racism, black Canadian studies, professionalism and labour

Racing after the Hurricane: Changing Perceptions and Design of the Early Automobile

Tanya Bailey; MA 2018; Supervisor: Jamin Pelkey

Before World War I, American automobiles were given nicknames like “The Green Dragon” and “The Flying Death” (Helck 1975: 38) which reflected the fear many people felt toward cars. Adoption of the automobile was challenged by unfamiliarity and unwillingness to share the roads. Automobile races helped increase familiarity and popularity of the automobile. Additionally, racing offered economic benefits to communities wishing to attract investment or tourism. I theorize that automobile races held from 1909-1913 in Galveston, Texas after a category-four hurricane, improved the local economy, subsequently improving attitudes of acceptance toward the automobile. Through a mixed-methods approach, my study looks at the period of early automobile rejection and adoption. I examine historic materials, films, and conduct a case study on the Galveston Beach races. I view my findings through the Social Construction of Technology (SCOT) Theory of Trevor Pinch and Wiebe Bijker (1996) in order to understand the timing and reasons for the gradual transition from rejection to adoption.

Viewing the Spectacular Body of Modernity: Bourgeois Identity and the Body of the Other

Kathleen Ballantyne; MA 2021; Supervisor: Monique Tschofsen

This thesis is concerned with the visual culture of the deviant Other—those whose bodies transgressed what was considered normative or natural based on race, gender, sexuality, disability, madness, or physiological difference—in modernity. My research will examine how those who were considered physiologically, mentally, and culturally different became a central object in the cultural consciousness of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century by viewing how these bodies were exhibited and engaged across a wide range of discursive domains. Following the theory of the grotesque body set out by Peter Stallybrass and Allon White, I will examine how deviant, or grotesque, bodies were negotiated and displayed in medical discourse, popular spectacles, such as the circus and the world fair, and in transgressive avant-garde arts. Through this multi-textual analysis, I will examine both the cultural significance of these representations and of the relations of viewership that were arranged across these domains.

“I Would Do Anything to Not Call This Place Home”: The Black Pill, Involuntary Celibacy, and the Neoliberal Male Grasp in Digital Incel Communities

Anthony Burton; MA 2020; Supervisor: Greg Elmer

Drawing from gender studies, critical theory, media studies, and anthropology, this thesis examines “involuntary celibacy” and the links between neoliberalism, masculinity, digital community, and misogyny. Based on an analysis of the webforum, it chronicles the development of the “incel” identity, situating it as a reaction to contemporary social hierarchies and cultural norms, including the infringement of neoliberal market logic onto social relations and gender stereotypes. The “incel identity” is framed as a site wherein these norms meet and contradict each other, leading to the construction of a group epistemology that attempts to explain the incel’s oppression. This group knowledge, dubbed the “black pill”, is an alternative set of norms, behaviours, and social truths rooted in masculine supremacy and supported through the usage of positivist, scientific claims. This project explores the rationality and sentiments of the black pill, especially as they relate to expressive traits of the body. At its core, this thesis argues that “incel” ideology exposes a contradiction between the neoliberal marketization of the self and contemporary masculinity, and it draws upon this contradiction to formulate a way of understanding the process and practice of digitized community. incel, masculinity, blackpill, involuntary celibacy, forum, phenotype, program, ideology, neoliberalism, gender, red pill, platform

Rated M for misogyny: reimagining gender assessments for film

Vanessa Ciccone; MA 2017; Supervisor: Charles Davis

Employing gender theory and political economy, this research interrogates the feasibility of creating a reliable assessment of gender in film, and explores multiple uses for such an assessment. It contributes to communications literature on industry and policy responses to biased portrayals in film. Stereotypes (Social psychology) in motion pictures; women in motion pictures; feminism and motion pictures; sex role in motion pictures.

The gendered experience of voice in Canadian radio and beyond: Toronto, Canada

Anastasia Copeland; MA 2017; Supervisor: Anne MacLennan

Feminist media scholars have historically centered gender and identity on the body and visual texts, with the voice exercised as metaphor - immaterial or interpreted solely as the words spoken. Representative of agency, the voice gets defined as what is being said rather than how one is saying it. My thesis addresses this gap through an earoriented analysis of women’s voice within the Canadian radio and podcasting industry. Centred on the experiences of individual women in Toronto’s broadcast soundscape, I bring a feminist phenomenological approach to my work to explore the intersection of voice as both material sound - an extension of the body and thus individual identities- and the weight of the women’s voice as politically and historically coded. I aim to expand my work beyond the individual experiences of the women within the broadcast industry and into the broader discourse surrounding gendered representation for the future of our Canadian media soundscape.

Lingo-Entrainment: The Natural Language Surveillance of Smartphone Users

Nicholas Fazio; MA 2020; Supervisor: Steve Bailey

This thesis examines the neuro-cultural implications of: (1) language capture and commodification; and (2) neurological entrainment, two processes that I contend have coextensively emerged with the development of smartphones in a way that is profitable for major smartphone manufacturers and privileged third parties. The phrase “neurological entrainment” in this context refers specifically to the smartphone’s ability to exert affective behavioural control over smartphone users by altering their neurochemical states. I aim to situate this established neurological phenomenon alongside a less scrutinized transformation: that of the smartphone into a site of language-capture. By “language capture” I refer to the intake, collection and brokering of smartphone users’ natural language data and metadata. The goal of this thesis is to contextualize the interfusing of these entrainment and capture processes that cunningly form lucrative linguistic relationships between smartphone users and their devices. This study, through a comparative content analysis of data policies, privacy protocols, and privacy related promotional material pertaining to two major smartphone manufacturers (e.g., Apple and Samsung), substantiates the claim that the foundational documents of each device openly permit this productive union, with its doubled effect of neurological pacification and linguistic divestment. It also situates these findings within the grander lingo-entrainment systems that influence the future of our living language, and that coincide with Deleuzian premonitions about societies of control.

For lack of a better word: neo-identities in non-cisgender, non-straight communities on Tumblr

Christine Feraday; MA 2016; Supervisor: Susan Driver

Non-cisgender and non-straight identity language has long been a site of contention and evolution. There has been an increase in new non-cisgender, non-straight identity words since the creation of the internet, thanks to social media platforms like Tumblr. Tumblr in particular has been host to many conversations about identity and self-naming, though these conversations have not yet been the subject of much academic research. Through interviews and analysis of Tumblr posts, this thesis examines the emergence of new identity words, or neo-identities, used by non-cisgender and non-straight users of Tumblr. The work presents neo-identities as strategies for resisting and challenging cisheteronormative conceptions of gender and attraction, as well as sources of comfort and relief for non-cisgender/non-straight people who feel ‘broken’ and excluded from mainstream identity categories. This thesis also posits that Tumblr is uniquely suited for conversations about identity because of its potential for self-expression, community, and anonymity.

Who’s Laughing Now? Survivors of Sexual Violence Joke About Rape

Anna Frey; MA 2017; Supervisor: May Friedman

Survivors of sexual violence in Canada face a culture that is largely hostile to their voices and experiences. Despite this, some survivors turn to the public sphere to work through their trauma. This thesis presents interview data from seven survivors who have performed stand-up comedy about their own experiences with sexual violence. It weaves together critical and clinical trauma theories, feminist work on sexual violence, and communications theories about humour and joking to offer new insights into how cultural responses to sexual trauma can work to challenge dominant attitudes about rape. This thesis ultimately argues that the cognitive, linguistic, and affective strategies that joking encourages can guide survivors towards reconceptualising the traumatic events they’ve experienced and facilitate the integration of those traumas into their lives. By focusing on a novel aspect of survivors’ affective expressions – their fun – this analysis works to make better sense of peoples’ complex responses to trauma. Rape victims-Mental health, Courage-Anecdotes, Inspiration-Anecdotes, The Comic, Sexual harassment-Psychological aspects.

Memory, Personal Trauma, and Social Media: Writing The Cyber-Body

Victoria Hetherington; MA 2016; Supervisor: Irene Gammel

This project explores the formation of women’s autonoetic consciousness through the use of social media: what is the phenomenological experience of women performing, writing, and consistently monitoring very public, very detailed personal narratives via digital media tools? Using Twitter, this project involves writing a 10,000-word Twitter auto-fiction piece, based on a traumatic series of autobiographical events experienced as a teenager. Utilizing an automated tweeting tool, the piece unfolds in a stream-of-consciousness manner characteristic of the medium, exploring the phenomenological reality of individuals writing the rich novels of their lives over social media. Thinkers like Macej Cegłowski warn that the internet maps poorly on concepts of how human memory works, as binary memory percolates up into the design of online communities. This system of forever-memory, in which any comment and photo can be screen-capped and stored, works against how individuals prefer to remember – especially, perhaps, very young people, millions of whom live their “embarrassing teen years” in public, and in stunning detail.

Necromancy: A Hauntology of Grief, Material Culture, and Research Creation

Griffen Horsley; MA 2023; Supervisor: Monique Tschofen

Building out of the methodological frame of autotheory, my thesis work emphasizes personal writing to ground academic theorization in my own lived experiences of grief, study, and arts-making. Ultimately, I argue for the synthesis of these methodological and theoretical frames in order to contribute to the development of research creation methodologies for future research creation scholars by offering up a theoretical grounding for scanner art as a methodology and provide a unifying theoretical frame for hauntology, autotheory, material culture studies, and affect theory under my own critical conceptual metaphor of necromancy. In doing so, I hope to create spaces in which we can consider new ways of grieving that centre interrelationality, to recognize and emphasize our interconnectedness as living and non-living beings, and to do so through an attention to the enchantment of material objects. To carry out this necromantic practice, I emphasize three primary scopes of consideration within academic spaces; thinking spectrally, thinking aprotensively, and thinking interrelationally. Remediation; Scanner Art; Photography; Affect; Autotheory; Thing Theory

Ambiguity and Irreconcilability: A Critical Look at Reconciliation Discourse in Federal Land Claims and Self-Government Political Communications

Rebecca Hume; MA 2020; Supervisor: Paul Moore and Julie Tomiak

Can reconciliation be meaningful when it is at once a journey, a path, a milestone, a framework, a tool of economic development, a spirit, and a process? In this thesis, I use a multimethod approach to problematize how reconciliation discourse is employed ambiguously in both policy and practice in order to maintain settler colonial occupation of stolen Indigenous lands. I first conduct a policy review of federal land claims and self-government frameworks before turning to a Critical Discourse Analysis of public communications to illustrate the limitations of these state-led processes of reconciliation. My analysis elucidates the ways in which these processes are instantiations of settler governmentality that continue to exist as common sense (Rifkin, 2013) within a discursive framework of state-led reconciliation politics. As such, my work demonstrates that in order to work towards the bigger project of decolonization and resurgence, reconciliation must move from purely aspirational terms to substantive, treaty-based responsibilities with the repatriation of Indigenous land as its overarching, incommensurable purpose. Keywords: reconciliation politics; settler colonialism; Crown-Indigenous relations; critical policy studies; critical discourse analysis.

The monstrous feminine and the structure of transformation: art, language, technology, magic

Cecilia Inkol; MA 2018; Supervisor: Steve Bailey

The structure of art is an architecture of transformation. This thesis is a meditation on the notion of art or aesthetics as technological, arguing that art or aesthetics in its highest aspect can foment revolution or transformation within oneself, or in the material world. The power of art to invoke change, I define as magic, a means of effectuation that exists outside of the confines of a materialist or scientistic imaginary. Such a mode of effectuation is also linguistic, and connected with meaning. These ideas find their inspiration primarily in the works of Heidegger, Deleuze, Lacan, Kristeva, Schelling, and Slattery. This thesis also acts as a practical, exegetical exercise in aesthetics to render an interpretation of my own artwork, a praxis of art-based research.

Racism and Classism in Mexican Advertising: An exhibition of visual messaging

Carl Jones; MA 2016; Supervisor: Catherine Schryer

Since before its inception as a nation state, Mexico's population has been plagued with the polemics of class and race. This division continues today through the Mexican ruling class' appropriation of advertising. Having worked in Mexican communications for over eighteen years, I am of the opinion that its ruling class, made up of a few families of European descent, have been able to maintain their power and money through the appropriation of communication. I am interested in the functions and systems in place that allow this to propagate and how meaning is being reproduced unperceived by the audience. My thesis question asks, What are the visual representations of the power relationships in Mexico's political economy as reflected through the appropriation of advertising? To answer this question, I perform a semiotic analysis of branded advertising messages created by the companies Bimbo, Palacio de Hierro and FEMSA, owned by the Mexican ruling families Servitje, Bailleres and Garza respectively. Each television commercial is examined for signs, cultural codes, gestures, gaze and word tracks. These signs are decoded, and the conclusion is expressed through "An Exhibition of Visual Messaging", designed to inform the Mexican public of how messages are constructed and received, empowering the viewer to interpret and challenge the meaning behind the communications they are receiving through the metamedia. Semiotic analysis; advertising; Mexico; Visual Culture Media and Culture

Canadian International Non-Governmental Organizations: Holding Discursive Strategies to a Higher Standard

Jordan Kroschinsky; MA 2020; Supervisor: Sandra Jeppesen

Ethical engagement and visual representation have been a central challenge for international NGOs and development communications. However, there is a call to be attentive to the discursive strategies used by Canadian INGOs, and the representations of developing countries emulated to Western aid supporters. This study conducts a critical discourse analysis on three Canadian INGO websites: CARE Canada, International Federation of the Red Cross, and Oxfam Canada. By exploring the discursive frameworks that represent, categorize, and by extension establish sets of relations between INGO audiences and aid receivers, this study gauges the shifts of hegemonic discourses within the context of INGO messaging. An autoethnography is included with each case study, reflecting on my own experiences working with non-profit organizations. Canadian INGOs, online representations, critical discourse analysis, Canadian aid supporters

Discourse, Difference, And Dehumanization: Justifying The Canadian Japanese Internment, 1940-1949

Alexandra Marcinkowsk; MA 2018; Supervisor: Patricia Mazepa

This thesis argues Canadian Members of Parliament used the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbour as an opportunity to enforce a dominant “us versus them” narrative in order to justify the internment of approximately 22,000 Canadians of Japanese ancestry. National and local newspapers reinforced this narrative through uncritical and biased reporting which negatively framed the Japanese against a more idealized and white “Canadian” identity. Critical discourse analysis was applied on several debates in the House of Commons and news articles in the Daily Colonist and the Globe and Mail between 1940 and 1949, to examine the articulation of social relations – in this case, race and ethnicity – with the goal of uncovering the power relations embedded within the discourse. The findings reveal a clear “us versus them” narrative,whereby Canadians of Japanese ancestry were constructed as “yellow,” “bad,” and “unwanted,” as opposed to white Canadians who were “good” and “loyal.”

Managing Contradictions of Multiculturalism: Narratives of Belonging and Being Canadian Among Canadian Middle Eastern Women

Niki Mohrdar; MA 2019; Supervisor: Sedef Arat-Koc

This thesis investigates experiences of belonging and being Canadian among first-generation Canadian Middle Eastern women through one-on-one interviews with 13 women. Since the election of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in 2015, Canada has recommitted to bolstering discourses of multiculturalism. There have been, however, lasting impacts from mainstream discourses that followed 9/11, which positioned Middle Eastern women as imperiled and Middle Eastern culture as backward. Additionally, liberal multiculturalism in Canada has done little to address systemic racism, and instead encourages a superficial level of acceptance. Contradictions of multiculturalism can be found in the narratives of these women, who sometimes repeat discourses that do not benefit them. Conversely, women who have access to discourses that position multiculturalism as ideological, have a difficult time expressing a Canadian identity and display a critical understanding of their experiences. These narratives are considered in a wider context of how race and racism structure Canada today.

Superheroes Through Time And Space: Intersecting Representations of Nation, Hero, and Masculinity In Superman and Doctor Who

Katherine Louise Moore; MA 2017; Supervisor: May Friedman

This thesis provides a glimpse at how ideas of nation, hero, and masculinity intersect within English speaking Western culture, and how representations of these concepts have shifted over time in the United Kingdom and United States. This study examines and compares film and television samples of Superman and Doctor Who from the 1970s, 1990s, and 2000s/2010s. Conducting a discourse analysis of these samples, coupled with historical research, it compares how the title characters of Superman and the Doctor align with familiar masculine superhero screen ideals of their affiliated nations, and investigates how their representations have shifted alongside their socio-cultural contexts. This multifaceted discussion illustrates that these superheroes, as Western figures, remain similar in their thematic concerns with justice, interpersonal relationships, and threats to the status quo, while it also highlights how they present imagery particular to their own national contexts and screen tropes.

Cultivating Community Care: Using Art-Based Workshops and Narrative Inquiry To Explore Care In Queer And Mad/Disabled Communities

L. Morris; MA 2023; Supervisor: Eliza Chandler

Drawing on six art-based workshops and focus group sessions that took place from January-February 2023 with six 2SLGBTQ+ and/or Mad/Disabled identified participants from Toronto, Ontario, my thesis reimagines and redefines (community) care from a queer/mad/disabled perspective. Drawing on a Research-Creation informed visual methodology for community- and art-based research, this project challenges traditional ideas around knowledge production in the academy by inviting 2SLGBTQ+ and Mad/Disabled participants into the knowledge creation process through arts-based community research. I audio recorded, transcribed, and analyzed art workshops and focus group sessions using applied thematic analysis to identify themes emerging from workshop and focus group sessions. I then grouped these research findings thematically into narratives of care I identified in the transcripts. In my Findings section I identify several care frameworks and core features of community care that participants described as essential to meeting their care needs. As a collaborative community-based research project between my participants and me, this project contributes to academic discourse on care in queer and Mad/Disabled communities.

Growing an Edible Campus

Sean Murray; MA 2018; Supervisor: Stéphanie Walsh Matthews

An Edible Campus can be broadly defined as the production of food on a post-secondary institution’s campus. This research contributes to the creation of a Canadian Edible CampusDatabase (ECD) that can be used as a network for future collaborations within the campus sustainability community, thus creating opportunities for education, research and community engagement. The database contains information about practices, size, and origin of EdibleCampuses across Canada. The database also creates a participant pool for a survey aimed at understanding the diversity of Edible Campuses. Edible Campus team members were asked to respond to questions regarding the goals, barriers and benefits for their food production initiatives. It is the finding of this research that Edible Campuses often exceed beyond ‘greening the school’ by demonstrating sustainability through the physical structure, teaching practice,research, and relationships with people and nature.

Influencer Marketing Is Not A Way Around the Law: Regulatory Compliance and Law Enforcement in the Canadian Social Media Influencer Field

Ruvimbo Musiyiwa; MA 2021; Supervisor: Jenna Jacobson

In 2019, Competition Bureau Canada (“the Bureau”) sent letters to approximately 100 brands and marketing agencies that engage in influencer marketing—advising them to ensure that their marketing practices are in compliance with the law. Against this background, this research uses semi-structured interviews to examine the regulatory compliance efforts of 21 influencer intermediaries who liaise between brands and social media influencers. The research assesses these intermediaries’ disclosure practices together with their thoughts on the Bureau’s targeted outreach and law enforcement in the field. Additionally, the research explores how the intermediaries adjust their regulatory compliance efforts to technological innovation on social media platforms. This research contributes four main findings. First, intermediaries consign regulatory expectations for disclosure to a secondary level of importance when working to meet the needs of brands and influencers. Second, there is limited intermediary knowledge of the Bureau’s legal standing and activities in the Canadian influencer field. Third, there are various algorithmic (e.g., algorithmic deprioritization) and non-algorithmic (e.g., lengthy disclosure processes) challenges to maintaining high standards of compliance in evolving digital environments. Finally, intermediaries have access to forms of social, cultural, and technical power that can be maximized to influence high standards of compliance. This research contributes to a growing body of scholarship focused on the perspectives of professionals who manage influencer marketing collaborations. Influencer marketing; Competition Act; intermediaries; disclosures; regulatory compliance; law enforcement

Interrogating Authenticity: Understanding East Asian Female Pop Music in the Western Cultural Sphere

Caitlyn Ng Man Chuen; MA 2022; Supervisor: Philippe Theophanidis

This thesis explores the connection between East Asian female pop music artists and inauthenticity in Anglo-Western popular culture. It embarks on a two-step mixed method analysis to provide both breadth and depth to this research project, analyzing songs and music videos through a content analysis and critical discourse analysis. Specifically, it foregrounds the understanding of these artists as inauthentic against a broad tradition of authenticity in Western art and specifically in Western music to understand how these artists are perceived to be inauthentic. Focusing on a contemporary period, it explores how popular music interacts with the Western cultural imagination, interrogating how racial and gender dynamics contribute to understandings of authenticity. Also integral to this study is a consideration of technology and how technological developments have had an impact on understandings of art. Popular music; authenticity; popular culture; East Asian studies, technology and culture; gender studies.

#NeverEnough: Social Comparison by Young Women on Instagram

Bailey Parnell; MA 2020; Supervisor: Anatoliy Gruzd

As social media use continues to rise, studies have linked high social media use with rising levels of depression, particularly in young adults. This narrative has pervaded, yet in the research thus far, there is no general consensus as to causation or direction. What remains constant is that when mediators such as ‘comparison’ and ‘envy’ are introduced between social media use and depression, there is a negative correlation. In a qualitative study, I examine the connection between social comparison, Instagram use, and envy in young women. I conducted semi-structured interviews with a group of 10 female university students between the ages of 18-24. Interviews were analysed through qualitative descriptive analysis. Overwhelmingly, subjects engaged in frequent social comparison offline, which translated to frequent social comparison, made worse, on Instagram. As a result, participants admitted to feeling envious as well as other feelings like frustration, loneliness, anger, and overwhelm. However, users also reported positive experiences such as inspiration, humour, motivation, and happiness, when they are on Instagram. Offline affect proved to be the biggest moderators and indicators of comparison and the positive or negative experiences of the participants. This research may suggest future care in this area should focus on offline affect rather than the social networks themselves.

In The Middle: Being Portuguese and Gay in the Wake of the Emanuel Jaques Murder in 1977 Toronto

Michael Pereira; MA 2018; Supervisor: Alan Sears

This thesis revisits the murder of the 12-year-old Portuguese immigrant boy Emanuel Jaques in Toronto in 1977 and the cultural response it ignited through qualitative interviews with five Portuguese gay men who were coming of age around this moment. Homosexual men across the city were conflated with the men who murdered Jaques because of their sexualities and depicted as a threat to children by politicians, law officials, protestors, and members of the media. Young Portuguese gay men found themselves in between two sides of an intense moral panic yet their experiences had not previously been sought out and recorded. They recall facing a fear of self and of others following the murder, a questioning or rejection of their sexualities, and in one case, continuing guilt. These experiences are considered within a broader context of what it meant to be Portuguese and gay in the ‘70s and ‘80s in Toronto. Public opinion; Sexual minorities; Cultural pluralism; Portuguese Canadians; Racism; Homophobia

You Better Werk!: Exploring Systems of Discipline, Stratification, and Labour on RuPaul’s Drag Race in the Context of Neoliberal Reality TV Programming

Iva Pivalica; MA 2023; Supervisor: May Friedman

In recent years, drag performance has witnessed a significant shift as a result of the emergence of Drag Race (2009) and particularly the eighth season as it takes place during a pivotal cultural moment in North American history (the Trump era). This project aims to address: How do the neoliberal and hegemonic mechanics of reality television emerge in the Drag Race format and how do these mechanics discipline and stratify the development and conditions of drag performers, particularly those who are racialized and have low social and economic capital, on the show? This project utilizes a mixture of Foucauldian, critical, and affirmative turns to queer incorporation in media to address queer people’s relationship to labour in the current oversaturated attention economy. RuPaul’s Drag Race; reality television; queer incorporation and subjectivity; aesthetic and display labour; the psychic life of neoliberalism; popular culture

A/R/Tography As A Method Of Awe: An A/R/Tographic Inquiry Of The Canadian North

Emily Pleasance; MA 2018; Supervisor: Monique Tschofen

This thesis is a year-long inquiry on the Canadian North using the practice-based research method a/r/tography. This a/r/tographic research on the Canadian North follows the method's three modalities: theoria, praxis, and poesis. It concludes by presenting the North as a non-place, placeless, a pseudo-place. Ultimately, this thesis contributes to a/r/tography's ongoing development as a research methodology. I propose to expand the frames within which we conceptualize a/r/tography's theoria, praxis, and poesis. The re-defining and re-organization of these three modalities opens a/r/tography to a wider range of creators to allow for even more boundary-breaking work. In addition, I draw out the possibilities of Lures as a hitherto unrecognized seventh conceptual practice embedded in a/r/tography. Moreover, I describe a/r/tographers as child-voyagers who are able to momentarily dispense with their perceptual frameworks and enter spaces that allow them to see the world anew. Most importantly, I reconceptualize a/r/tography as a method of awe.

I am Inevitable: Seriality, Nostalgia and The Marvel Cinematic Universe

Renee Proctor; MA 2021; Supervisor: Monique Tschofen

This thesis examines the relationship between nostalgia and seriality by studying nostalgia in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. My primary research question asks whether the nostalgia depicted in Avengers: Endgame, for earlier MCU films, imagines a narrative future by critiquing and examining the franchise’s past. This thesis undertakes a critical textual and narrative analysis of the serialized films of the Marvel Cinematic Universe by borrowing frameworks from television studies, film studies, cultural theory and Svetlana Boym’s concepts of restorative and reflective nostalgia. This thesis finds that by applying Boym’s concept of reflective nostalgia to the kind of nostalgia that Avengers: Endgame depicts for former versions of Marvel Studios’ Universe we can see how it allows for nostalgia to be a more critical and productive relationship with the past that makes room to imagine the cinematic universe’s future.

Toronto's Not-So-"Smart"-City: How "Urban Innovation" Is Enabling Surveillance Capitalism, American Imperialism and Systematic Discrimination

Sahar Raza; MA 2019; Supervisor: Stéphanie Walsh Matthews

This thesis critically analyzes the dominant discourse, actors, and technologies associated with the Sidewalk Toronto smart city project to uncover and resist the potential dangers of the unregulated smart city. Drawing from gray and scholarly literature alongside four semi- structured interviews and three action research methods, this research shows that smart cities and technologies are the latest iteration of corporate power, exploitation, and control. Imbued with neoliberal, colonial, and positivistic logics, the smart city risks further eroding democracy, privacy, and equity in favour of promoting privatization, surveillance, and an increased concentration of power and wealth among corporate and state elite. While the publicized promise of the smart city may continuously shift to reflect and co-opt oppositional narratives, its logics remain static, and its beneficiaries remain few. Applying a social justice-oriented lens which connects critical theory, postmodernism, poststructuralism, intersectional feminism, and anti- colonial methodologies is crucial in reconceptualizing “smartness” and prioritizing public good.

Re-Conceptualizing our Rhetorical Relationship with Pain: A Thematic Analysis of Metaphors of Pain in the Bodymind

Cassidy Rempel; MA 2023; Supervisor: Colleen Derkatch

The concept of “mental pain” is becoming commonplace. The argument that mental hardships should be described as a type of pain reject the idea of Cartesian dualism, which argues that the body and mind are separate beings. The concept “mental pain” rejects this idea by arguing that the mind feels the same experiences as the body. This research offers a small step in reconceptualizing mental pain as something unlike pain in a way that does not create a Cartesian split. To modestly enter this territory, this thesis questions whether shared metaphors found in descriptions of mental and physical pain function differently in the types of pain—with a specific focus on implications the metaphors may create for healing. Data was gathered through a conceptual metaphorical analysis of women’s pathographies about pain. Findings suggest that mental pain is something more violent and sinister than physical pain.

The Affective Politics of Far-Right Populism on TikTok

Jacob Sammon; MA 2022; Supervisor: Greg Elmer

This study investigates how TikTok is a powerful platform for amplifying far-right populism. Research from the academic community signaled that many online cultures have grown out of TikTok; unfortunately, not all are positive. This recognition for research provides an opportunity to investigate how a social and political culture of far-right populism has become a more visible force in Canada with the appearance of the Freedom Convoy in Winter 2022. The data for this study is collected through a mixed-methods approach of a Walkthrough method and content analysis of hashtags #freedomconvoy and #freedomconvoy2022. By analyzing the findings through a philosophical, theoretical framework of affective publics, this study demonstrates the Freedom Convoys' ability to capture their pride, anger, and distrust through Tiktok's unique visual representation and audio overlay to spread messaging that characterizes far-right populism. Affect Theory; Tiktok; Digital Methods; Affective Publics; Populism; Freedom Convoy.

Before and After Nature: Temporality and Landscape in Toronto's Early Urban Greenspace

Sam Shaftoe; MA 2021; Supervisor: David Cecchetto

In this thesis, I explore the ways cultural constructions of nature and its temporal valences are represented and employed in the design, use, and development of urban greenspace. This arises from a broader interest in the ways the nature/society distinction has been produced by alongside the environment-making, world-ecological process of capital accumulation. Parks, as nature in the city, foreground tensions between nature and society. They are developed, maintained, and designed with specific representations of nature in mind. In this sense, they can act as an index for shifting images of nature, or what Jason W. Moore would call historical natures. I have chosen to focus on the emergence of parks in Toronto during the 19th century using Allan Gardens as my primary case study. I approach it as landscape to pay particular attention to how images of nature constructed, employed, and practiced in the development and use of the site. Allan Gardens proves to be an interesting case study in the history of urban greenspace due to its relation to the global flows of science, power, and capital inculcated in botanical gardens, as well as its relation to settler-colonial commemorative exercises that utilize the temporal valences of nature to place indigenous peoples in a pre-history of Toronto’s development.

Making Up a Drug Epidemic: Constructing Drug Discourse During The Opioid Epidemic in Ontario

Travis Sidak; MA 2020; Supervisor: Stephen Muzzatti

The current opioid epidemic has resulted in growing rates of overdose across the province with the introduction of fentanyl into illicit drug markets. What barriers are preventing policy makers from enacting emergency measures to save lives and how have those affected by the epidemic been categorically ignored? The following research critically analyzes drug discourse relating to the current opioid epidemic in Ontario and discusses why government responses to the epidemic have been delayed, and why they offer inferior measures to prevent growing mortality and morbidity. Using Ian Hacking’s theory of dynamic nominalism, the work systematically deconstructs drug discourse through a number of perspectives in order to identify stakeholders and manifest relations of power that drive policy deliberation and designate key figures of authority. Research has shown that opioid dependent users are infantilized and demonized due to a history of negative perspectives on drug use that persist today in drug discourse.

Mothers Who Cook, Daughters Who Write: Negotiations of the Mother-Daughter Relationship

Mariam Vakani; MA 2022; Supervisor: Nima Naghibi

Popular understanding of the kitchen as the hearth and heart of the home suggests that families, especially children, make fond memories around food and eating. At the center of those memories is the Ideal Mother, who provides comfort through wholesome meals. Defining the culinary mother-daughter memoir as a memoir written by the daughter reflecting on her life and relationship with her mother through an engagement with food and culinary practice, the daughter’s writing often conflates a yearning for the mother with the yearning for the mother’s cooking. Investigating the relationship between the mother-daughter relationship, food, and grieving in five culinary memoirs, the paper undertakes a self-reflexive examination of how grief and hunger can impact the daughters’ representation of her relationship with her mother. Ultimately arguing that there is no singular representation, the paper suggests that the daughter uses cooking and memoir writing to come to terms with her grief for her lost mother. Mother-daughter relationships; food; grief; memoir; women’s writing.

Facebook and Cambridge Analytica: Using Situational Crisis Communication Theory to Analyze Communication Practices on YouTube

Katie Walsh; MA 2022; Supervisor: Anatoliy Gruzd

This thesis investigates the case study of the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica crisis that broke public in March 2018. This scandal spurned public discourse surrounding user data and privacy in the digital age. Using content analysis to interpret the data, this research analyzes videos from Facebook’s YouTube channel to explain the extent to which Situational Crisis Communication Theory (SCCT) and its crisis response strategies can explain Facebook’s communication practices before and after the crisis. The findings suggest that SCCT and the crisis response strategies derived from the theory can be used to explain Facebook’s communication practices on its YouTube channel. The results reveal that Facebook primarily used crisis response strategies from the Bolstering and Diminish clusters in its videos. SCCT can be an effective theoretical framework in which to study corporate crises and further research can provide academics and the general public alike with tools to interpret organizational crisis communication. Situational Crisis Communication Theory; Facebook; Cambridge Analytica; content analysis; YouTube

ASL Poetics of Practice: Reading and Writing Communicative Bodies into the Media Materialities of Poetry

Sabrina Ward-Kimola; MA 2021; Supervisor: Ganaele Langlois

Taking up Deaf literary studies, communication and media studies, this thesis conducts a interview-based and qualitative study of the media practices undertaken by poets who use ASL in their work. In addition to expanding prevailing and hegemonic approaches to poetics, central to this investigation are the related concepts of: (1) the communicative body, a term used to describe how the ASL-signing body is enacted as a media technology, and (2) the problematics of interpretation across the materialities that contribute to poetic meaning. Through the insights of a small cohort of poets, this research attends to gaps at the intersection of Deaf and communication studies, highlighting how poetic meaning emerges from the material spaces and accompanying practices of communicative production. ASL poetry, communicative body, communication media, materialities, Deaf culture, moving-imagery, literacy, practice, multimodality, interpretation.

From Public Interest To Creators’ Interest: An Examination Of The Policy Discourse Shifts In Canadian Broadcasting: 2003-2017

Emma Whyte; MA 2018; Supervisor: Jeremy Shtern

This thesis investigates the policy discourse shifts in Canadian broadcasting that occurred between 2003 and 2017 by examining two government consultation processes about Canadian broadcasting in the digital age: the 2003 “Our Cultural Sovereignty: The Second Century of Canadian Broadcasting” report, and the 2017 Canadian Content in a Digital World consultations. These two consultation processes are compared through a policy document analysis, analyzing government policy documents and stakeholders’ submissions to the consultations. Through this analysis, it was found that, although both reports stressed the necessity of policy reform, three key shifts in the policy discourse were identified: a shift from distinctly Canadian to internationally viable, a shift from cultural good to economic good, and a shift from public interest to creators’ interest. Because of these shifts, although these reports addressed similar problems about broadcasting in the digital age, the reports had considerably different outcomes regarding their policy recommendations.

“I Haven’t Done Anything To Be Polarizing”: Framing Anti-Black Themes Through Racial Magnetism In Jeremy Lin Media Discourse

Nicholas Wong; MA 2019; Supervisor: Nicole Neverson

This thesis investigates the appropriation of Black masculinity by Asian American basketball player Jeremy Lin. Subjecting media coverage to a combination of content analysis and critical discourse analysis uncovers the presence of four appropriative themes of Asianness: (a) the supraethnic viability of Asianness; (b) the necessary defeat of Blackness; (c) the disallowance of anti-Asian sentiment; and (d) the presence of a helpful Black cohort. These themes are themselves given meaning by five racially magnetized frames that position Asian Americans in opposition to Blackness across multiple dimensions: (a) Asian Americans as model minorities; (b) Asian American men as emasculated; (c) Asian Americans as invisible; (d) Asian Americans as forever foreign; and (e) Asian and Black Americans as enemies. The results of this study suggest that Asian American men benefit from the appropriation of Blackness, but that this benefit is contingent upon their ability to uphold heterosexist, white supremacist ideologies. Jeremy Lin; basketball; race

Humanitarians of Instagram: The Western Gaze in a Digital Age

Maia Wyman; MA 2021; Supervisor: Anne MacLennan

This thesis calls for a pictorial critique of pre-packaged overseas volunteering under the pretense of humanitarianism—voluntourism. By using a mixed-method approach of visual content analysis and semiotics, it endeavors to investigate the visual culture of voluntourism on social media. Through the overrepresentation of racialized children in voluntourism imagery on Instagram, the visual culture of voluntourism reinforces paternalistic narratives about the Global South, objectifies subaltern people, and depoliticizes their struggles. These constitute a digital humanitarian gaze, defined through a fusion of Mostafanezhad’s theory of the ‘popular humanitarian gaze’ and Shakeela and Weaver’s theory of the social-mediated gaze, which situate the imbalanced and objectifying mode of looking between Western viewers and photographed subjects from the Global South within a digital, social media context. The moment of volunteering is transformed into tourism by the instantaneous externalization of images shared at a distance with those at home and prospective volunteers. The hyper-visibility, replication, and repetition of social media images of subaltern children in voluntourism cements the centrality of the networked humanitarian image in Western society.

No Laughing Matter: Political Satire In Canada

Beisan Zubi; MA 2016; Supervisor: Greg Elmer

This work argues three main points: first, that political satire is a demonstrably powerful form of communicating political ideas, capable of resulting in political action; second, political satire has not reached the levels of influence and effectiveness in Canada as it has in the United States due to many obstacles, including our communications landscape and political culture; and third, the internet could potentially transform the playing field and negate those obstacles, creating the winning conditions for emergent debates and political critiques that also entertain.

ComCult Alumni - Fulbright Canada Program

The Canada-U.S. Fulbright Program (external link)  provides the opportunity for outstanding Canadian scholars to lecture and/or conduct research in the United States. Congratulations to our program alumni who have been awarded this prestigious scholarship!

Award Year
ComCult Fulbright Scholars and Fulbright Students
2019-2020 The home movie, digitization and aura
Stephen Broomer (ComCult PhD '15)
2013-2014 Segmenting the Masses: Historical Approaches to Niche Marketing, 1945-1979
Daniel Guadagnolo (ComCult MA '13)

Research Labs and Institutes

Toronto Metropolitan and York are home to many centres for research, providing a range of disciplinary, interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary activities. The following is a list of some of the research centres, chairs, and labs with which ComCult faculty and graduate students are and have been affiliated.

  • Centre for Digital Humanities (CDH)
  • Centre for Policy Innovation and Public Engagement
  • Modern Literature and Culture Research Centre (MLC)
  • Saagajiwe
  • Infoscape Research Lab
  • Studio for Media Activism and Critical Thought
  • Global Communication Governance Lab
  • Centre for Communicating Knowledge (CCK)
  • Future of Live Entertainment Lab
  • Creativity Everything Lab
  • Creative Communities in Collaboration research lab 
  • The Centre for Fashion & Systemic Change
  • Cybersecurity Research Lab
  • Future of Sport Lab
  • Inclusive Media and Design Centre (IMDC)
  • Institute for Research on Digital Literacies
  • Institute for Technoscience and Society
  • Sensorium: Centre for Digital Arts and Technology
  • York Centre for Asian Research

Toronto Metropolitan and York are located in Canada's largest and most diverse city - home to several universities and world-renowned cultural institutions. As a ComCult student, you can access many other resources, including adjunct faculty and visiting lecturers. Other benefits include exposure to many culture- and communication-based industries and activities that can be used to inform your studies.