Alumni Dissertations and Theses

 
 

Alumni Dissertations and Theses

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  • The Vastness of Small Spaces: Self-Portraits of the Artist as a Child Enclosed

    Author:
    Matthew Burgess
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    English
    Advisor:
    Nancy Miller
    Abstract:

    A tent of bed sheets, a furniture fort, a corner of the closet surrounded by chosen objects--the child finds or fashions these spaces and within them daydreaming begins. What do small spaces signify for the child, and why do scenes of enclosure emerge in autobiographical self-portraits of the artist? Sigmund Freud's theory that the literary vocation can be traced to childhood experiences is at the heart of this project, especially his observation that "the child at play behaves like a writer, in that he creates a world of his own, or rather, re-arranges the things of this world in a new way." Gaston Bachelard's exploration of space and poetic reverie is also foundational, and I situate Freud's "child at play" within Bachelard's spatial topography in order to examine the ways in which enclosures facilitate the discovery and development of the child's creative capacity. The paradoxical relation between smallness and vastness is a central theme in this dissertation; as the child imagines a world of her own within the small space, spatial constraints dissolve or vanish. My first chapters consider representations of childhood space in the work of two British memoirists at midcentury, Virginia Woolf and Denton Welch, and in the third chapter, I analyze lyric self-portraits by three American poets of the postwar period: Frank O'Hara, Anne Sexton, and Robert Duncan. Others have suggested that childhood enclosures are symbolic of "womb" or "cave," but these interpretations fail to capture the complexity of meanings at play within these scenes. I argue that this recurring figure is less about a lost union with the maternal body or some atavistic memory of the beginning of history; rather, for the author tracing the origins of her creative vocation to childhood, the small space is where the artist is born.

  • "Who do you think you are?": A multidimensional analysis of the impact of disparities in higher educational attainment within families of first-generation college graduates

    Author:
    April Burns
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Michelle Fine
    Abstract:

    This project explores the impact of disparate educational attainment between first-generation college graduates and their family members. This is a conscious shifting of the unit of analysis, from the changing social position and power of an individual student/graduate, to the relational capacity, tensions, and strategies of the family unit that is inclusive of the graduate. This shift in the unit of analysis, from the individual to the family, interrogates the function of higher education by broadening the range of outcomes associated with post-secondary education and credentialing beyond the economic advancement of the graduate. There are currently very few studies of this population that investigate post-degree attitudes and experiences and none of which ask questions about family relationships. Few if any studies have addressed how educational disparities within the family are perceived by other family members, particularly parents and siblings. This work investigates the nature of this affect/effect, primarily from the perspective of the graduate, but also reaching toward a greater understanding of the perspective of family members as well. Three broad areas of inquiry guide this exploratory first investigation of family narratives surrounding the higher educational attainment of first-generation college graduates: In what ways are educational values and justice beliefs (e.g., support of meritocracy), affected by the higher educational successes of one (or some) member(s) of the family? 2) How are family relations and power dynamics impacted by disparate levels of educational attainment within the family? and 3) What are the ideological dilemmas (Billig et al., 1988) of first-generation college graduates and family members, and how are these dilemmas negotiated? A mixed-method design was employed, consisting of a narrative analysis of interviews with first-generation college graduates' (N=13) and family members' (N=5) and an anonymous web-based survey (N=340) broadly assessing first-generation college graduate attitudes about their college experiences, post-college family relationships, current educational values and ideological dilemmas related to educational differences within the family of origin. A principal components analysis of survey items, and bivariate analyses were conducted to test relationships between factors and independent variables; a grounded theory approach was taken in the analysis of open-ended survey items.

  • Crossroads: New York's Black Intellectuals and the Role of Ideology in the Civil Rights Movement, 1954-1965

    Author:
    Kristopher Burrell
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    History
    Advisor:
    Clarence Taylor
    Abstract:

    Abstract CROSSROADS: NEW YORK'S BLACK INTELLECTUALS AND THE ROLE OF IDEOLOGY IN THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT, 1954-1965 By Kristopher Burrell Adviser: Dr. Clarence Taylor This dissertation studies the importance of New York City, and the black intellectuals who gathered there, to the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. The figures discussed here merit the term "intellectual" because they were makers and purveyors of many ideas that sustained and broadened the movement. Studying key activist-intellectuals from across the ideological spectrum allows for a more complete understanding of the importance of ideas in propelling the movement. Looking at the ways in which black intellectuals evolved and used different ideologies in pursuit of racial equality is another way of demonstrating African American agency. This study writes against the characterization of the civil rights movement as primarily fueled by emotionalism and impulsive. Black intellectuals actively sought to plot out the course that the movement would take. This dissertation continues to move civil rights historiography away from the notion that Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X provided the only two approaches for achieving racial equality by demonstrating that there was a broader spectrum of ideologies that African Americans used and adapted in trying to successfully prosecute their struggle to secure racial equality. Instead of merely two approaches--liberal integrationism and black nationalism--I argue that there were four main ideologies in conversation and contention with one another during this period--racial liberalism, conservatism, leftism, and black nationalism. This dissertation also contributes to the growing literature on the civil rights movement outside of the South. I make two main arguments about the significance of New York City to the movement. First, New York was important because institutions of every political and ideological stripe sank roots into and influenced the intellectual and cultural milieu of black New York and black America. Second, black intellectuals who were drawn to the city flourished because they sampled the extraordinary variety of ideas on display as they matured intellectually and developed their own strategies for growing and sustaining a national movement for social, political, and economic justice. For these reasons, New York is deserving of further study in relation to civil rights agitation and activism.

  • The New Deal in Puerto Rico: Public Works, Public Health, and the Puerto Rico Reconstruction Administration, 1935-1955

    Author:
    Geoff Burrows
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    History
    Advisor:
    Laird Bergad
    Abstract:

    During the 1930s, Puerto Rico experienced acute infrastructural and public health crises caused by the economic contraction of the Great Depression, the devastating San Felipe and San Ciprián hurricanes of 1928 and 1932, and the limitations of the local political structure. Signed into law by Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1935, the Puerto Rico Reconstruction Administration (PRRA) replaced all other New Deal activity on the island. As a locally-run federal agency, the PRRA was very unique and yet very representative of the "Second" New Deal in the United States--which attempted to move beyond finding immediate solutions to the most critical problems of the day and make permanent changes to social and economic life for all U.S. citizens. As the first archival analysis of the PRRA, this dissertation argues that the PRRA actively shifted federal policy in Puerto Rico from a paradigm of relief to one of reconstruction focused on the island's specific needs in the wake of the hurricanes and Depression. This shift mirrored the larger change from the laissez faire individualism of the 1920s to the more prominent use of federal power to intervene in socioeconomic life during the New Deal. By building the island's first truly public works and establishing its first public authorities to administer them, the PRRA constructed a new public infrastructure capable of addressing three interrelated goals: increasing life expectancy through concrete interventions in public health; providing more egalitarian public access to a safer and more permanent built environment; and limiting the private corporate control of Puerto Rico's natural resources. Designed by Puerto Rican engineers and built by Puerto Rican workers, PRRA public works projects made concrete contributions to the physical security of millions of Puerto Ricans through the construction of hurricane-proof houses, schools, hospitals, roads, sewers, waterworks, and rural electrification networks. These projects not only made lasting contributions to local social and economic life, they also had a transformative effect on Puerto Rican politics during the 1940s and the meaning of U.S. citizenship for Puerto Ricans in the twentieth century and beyond.

  • The Fight Over John Q: How Labor Won and Lost the Public in Postwar America, 1947-1959

    Author:
    Rachel Burstein
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    History
    Advisor:
    Joshua Freeman
    Abstract:

    This study examines the infancy of large-scale, coordinated public relations by organized labor in the postwar period. Labor leaders' outreach to diverse publics became a key feature of unions' growing political involvement and marked a departure from the past when unions used organized workers - not the larger public - to pressure legislators. The new recognition of the liberal public as an important ally and the creation of a program for targeting it signaled larger shifts in the American labor movement: the embrace of bureaucracy akin to other major postwar institutions; the promotion of politics over collective bargaining as the defining objective of the labor movement; the prominence of a new, educated class of labor leaders; and the deradicalization of American unionism in favor of the postwar liberal consensus. The dissertation details PR approaches of the American Federation of Labor (AFL) and Congress of Industrial Organizations' (CIO) at particular crisis points in the late 1940s and 1950s, after World War II and before the emergence of the civil rights movement and New Left. These campaigns were responsive and defensive and showed the difficulty labor leaders had in controlling the terms of debate, even as they were successful in maintaining rhetorical popular support. The case studies examined in this dissertation are: 1) the AFL and CIO's efforts to defeat the Taft-Hartley Act in 1947; 2) the role of politics - particularly the 1948 election and the third party campaign of Henry Wallace - in forcing CIO leaders to expel communist unions from their ranks; 3) the 1955 merger of the AFL and CIO and labor's efforts to counter the trope of "big labor" in a world in which large institutions and elite groups increasingly vied for control; and 4) the AFL-CIO's efforts to redefine itself in the face of accounts of union corruption during Congressional hearings on racketeering in organized labor from 1957 to 1959. In all of these cases, labor leaders positioned themselves and the union members they represented as part of a larger public committed to the same political objectives. Ultimately, this was a losing bet; they traded relevance for acceptability.

  • Exercises in Criticism: The Theory and Practice of Literary Constraint

    Author:
    Louis Bury
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    English
    Advisor:
    Wayne Koestenbaum
    Abstract:

    My dissertation is an exercise in applied poetics, using constraint-based methods in order to write about constraint-based literature. I define constraint-based literature as literature that imposes rules and restrictions upon itself over and above the rules and restrictions (such as grammar and lexicon) inherent in language--as literature that understands itself as part of an avant-garde tradition whose most prominent precursor is the work of the OuLiPo, or "Workshop For Potential Literature," a French writing group, founded in 1960 and still active today, whose purpose is to invent arbitrary constraints for the purposes of generating literary texts. When completed, my dissertation will contain ninety-nine short chapters, each of which follows a different compositional procedure. By tracing the lineage and enduring influence of early Oulipian classics, I argue that contemporary Anglophone writers have, in their adoption of constraint-based methods, transformed such methods from apolitical literary laboratory exercises into a form of cultural critique, whose usage is surprisingly widespread in contemporary Anglophone literature, particularly among poets and experimental novelists.

  • Unfamiliar Streets: The Photographs of Richard Avedon, Charles Moore, Martha Rosler, and Philip-Lorca diCorcia

    Author:
    Katherine Bussard
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Art History
    Advisor:
    Geoffrey Batchen
    Abstract:

    This dissertation begins from the premise that the streets of street photography matter. Streets are considered here as both sites and subjects for this genre of photography. Such an analysis demonstrates that streets are specific cultural, political, economic, and social environments, and that street photography often anticipates the affective quality of their reception by viewers. A key aim of this dissertation is to articulate a much-needed alternative to the dominant discourse on street photography as codified by Henri Cartier-Bresson, canonized by Garry Winogrand, and uncontested in most existing scholarship on the genre. Without spontaneity, speed, instantaneity, stealth, and mobility guiding the discussion, it becomes possible to redirect the terms of that discourse and to acknowledge that the construction and production of many street photographs corresponds--or fails to correspond--to the ways in which the street both frames and determines urban experience. Case-study chapters on the photographs of Richard Avedon, Charles Moore, Martha Rosler, and Philip-Lorca diCorcia address the historical dynamics that animated and complicated the specific city streets that serve as their sites and subjects. Published during the heyday of postwar consumerism, Avedon's late 1940s photographs for Harper's Bazaar utilize Parisian streets as deliberate locations of material desire and trade on a nostalgic image of that city. Moore's photo essay for Life magazine on the civil rights demonstrations in Birmingham in 1963 capitalizes on widespread awareness of the street as a site of political protest at the outset of a decade that would make the two synonymous. Rosler's removal of human subjects from street photography in her seminal work, The Bowery in Two Inadequate Descriptive Systems (1974-75), prompts the viewer's negotiation and reevaluation of urban poverty and homelessness. And diCorcia's projects in Times Square have yielded street photographs that unite the social and architectural space of urban change in America's most iconic public square. Taken together, the work by these four photographers provides not only a generational span across postwar American street photography; it offers a survey of types of street photography that diversify, expand, and complicate the existing discourse, thereby necessarily changing the practice of the genre's history.

  • IMPROVED PROCESSING AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE MULTI-FILTER ROTATING SHADOW-BAND RADIOMETER (MFRSR) NETWORK

    Author:
    Miguel Bustamante
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Engineering
    Advisor:
    Barry Gross
    Abstract:

    Information about global distributions of aerosol optical thickness (AOT) and size categorization is necessary to quantify the aerosol radiative forcing as well as a method to monitor air-quality such as fine particulate matter (PM). Efforts to provide such aerosol optical properties on a global scale clearly require satellite retrievals and therefore validation of satellite products is a clear priority. The development of suitable radiometer networks is central to this effort. Modern robotic solar instruments for retrievals of aerosols optical depth and other microphysical parameter retrievals, such as the CIMEL Sky Scanning Radiometer [Holben, 1998] as part of the Aeronet Network, are crucial to this effort but are unfortunately quite sparse and expensive and efforts to develop and utilize simpler portable instruments are highly desirable One attractive possibility is the deployment of Multi-Filter Rotating Shadow-band Radiometer (MFRSR) in a network [Alexandrov, 2002] both for validation efforts as well as monitoring extended megacities such as the NYC area. Furthermore, the developments of these portable networks in urban areas are particularly crucial for the following reasons: 1. The retrieval of aerosol properties over land areas and particularly urban surfaces is far more challenging than over oceans due to the bright and complex surfaces in urban areas. Cutting Edge algorithms such as the aerosol retrieval from the Advanced Polari-metric Scanner (APS) [Waquet, 2009] from current and future platforms are in need for validation and clearly would benefit from instruments that can be moved to strategic locations under the satellite track. In addition, for climate studies, separation of aerosols into fine / coarse mode constituents [Mischenko, 2004] as well as identifying and quantifying absorbing aerosols is critical. These outputs are in fact a major focus of APS (or combined APS-MODIS) and pulling these parameters out from the MFRSR processing is critical in maximizing the value. 2. In addition, urban areas have more spatial diversity in aerosols and would greatly benefit from closely spaced measurements that can probe local structure and anomalies. In this thesis, our goal is to test and implement a newly developed retrieval algorithm developed at NASA GISS [Alexandrov et al 2006] for processing MFRSR data. In particular, we show that this algorithm significantly improves optical depth time series measurements in comparison to the most currently used Langley regression method calibration. The main reason for the improved performance of the NASA-GISS algorithm is that the 870nm calibration is based on the ratio between the direct and diffuse radiance in which only the color ratios during the calibration procedure are required to be stable. We explore the performance of the NASA-GISS algorithm and show that the algorithm results in more stable calibration coefficients in comparison to those obtained using the conventional Langley regression. Furthermore, statistical analysis shows the stability of the aerosol color ratio as measured by the angstrom coefficient has RMSE variations three times smaller, which allows better calibrating statistics over longer periods. Further, we explore the accuracy of the MFRSR retrieval against a far more expensive coincident CIMEL and show that the MFRSR accurately retrieves both the total and the fine mode AOD but underestimates the coarse mode. This is reasonable since the MFRSR filter wavelengths only go to 870nm as compared to the 1620 nm available in the CIMEL instrument. We report our deployment of the MFRSR network over the NYC metropolitan area and describe intercomparison measurements between AOD measurements both inside and outside NYC in an effort to explore local aerosol production. Finally, the MFRSR network shall provide us with the spatial and temporal resolution needed to validate satellite data. The thesis contents are as follows. In section 1, motivation of the importance of aerosols for both climate impacts and human health are briefly given as well as a primer on what optical quantities we are measuring to detect aerosols. In section 2, we briefly discuss the different ways to measure aerosols including satellite and ground remote sensing (and in-situ) instruments with a particular focus on establishing networks that can validate complex aerosol satellite algorithms. In section 3, we present our validation of the MFRSR algorithm of NASA GISS [Alexandrov et al 2002, 2005, 2007, 2008] against CIMEL measurements to ensure that we are handling the processing stream properly. In section 4, we present our current and future network topology, processing, networking etc as well as present preliminary multisensory matchups for total AOD, fine and coarse mode separation and water vapor with particular focus on correlations and discrepancies. In section 5, we illustrate the value of the network through satellite validations for both MODIS and GOES aerosol retrievals. In section 6, we present our efforts to date in trying to pull out single scattering albedo and future prospects in moving the network deployment and algorithms forward.

  • "There" is Home: A Case Study of the Colored Orphan Asylum in New York City

    Author:
    Melba Butler
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Social Welfare
    Advisor:
    Gerald Mallon
    Abstract:

    The General Report to the White House Conference on Child Health and Protection in 1933 stated that as a rule "public and private agencies for dependent children have not concerned themselves with the special problems of the Negro, Mexican, Puerto Rican and Indian...Differences in culture, tradition, language and other factors of race and nationality call for a special body of knowledge and specialized methods of meeting those needs that are common to all. Failure to understand this has resulted in the neglect of certain groups, and lack of the needed specialized care" (Folks & Murphy, 1933, 17). More than 75 years later, findings indicate that youth exciting foster care are still fairing poorly despite varied policy and practice initiatives; Black youth, who are disproportionately represented out of home placement, have poorer outcomes than other populations (Hilliard, 2011; Hook & Courtney, 2011; Naccarato, Megan & Courtney, 2010; Osgood, Foster & Courtney, 2010; Center for Urban Futures, 2011). This inquiry seeks to broaden the discourse about best practices for Black children through case study of the Riverdale Colored Orphan Asylum in NYC, (COA), an historical institution founded specifically to serve Black children. Through oral and written narrative it unearths the experiences of COA just prior to the dissolution of its institutional care program. Findings suggest further study of the role of congregate care that might lead to improved outcomes for targeted populations of youth. The study also identifies how positive outcomes for children in care were impacted by reciprocity between COA and its targeted Black community.

  • PRIVACY-PRESERVING QUERY PROCESSING ON TEXT DOCUMENTS

    Author:
    Sahin Buyrukbilen
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Computer Science
    Advisor:
    Spiridon Bakiras
    Abstract:

    Privacy-preserving query processing is an essential component for data processing, especially in outsourced databases, or in data operations which have special security and privacy requirements such as sharing of sensitive data. While cloud computing and data outsourcing attract an increasing number of customers, the security and privacy of sensitive data still remains an open problem. Encryption secures the data against unauthorized access, but it does not provide the ability to query the data unless the encryption scheme is searchable. Searchable encryption can be either private or public key depending on the needs of the user. In general, private-key solutions are faster but suffer from a key management problem. On the other hand, public-key solutions provide more flexibility but their running times are much higher than private-key protocols. Furthermore, parties may sometimes be forced to share data in order to comply with regulations or agreements. For example, different health care companies or intelligence agencies may need to find whether they have similar records in their databases without compromising privacy. Consequently, privacy-preserving similarity search between text documents is an emerging field as sensitive data sharing becomes inevitable. In this dissertation we present two privacy-preserving text processing protocols: (i) a ranked keyword search mechanism over outsourced public-key encrypted data and (ii) a similar document detection system. We introduce efficient algorithms for answering these query types and illustrate their feasibility in real-life applications.