Alumni Dissertations

 

Alumni Dissertations

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  • The Powerful Voice of Women Dramatists in the Arab American Theatre Movement

    Author:
    Dalia Basiouny
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Theatre
    Advisor:
    Marvin Carlson
    Abstract:

    The Powerful Voice of Women Dramatists in the Arab American Theatre Movement by Dalia Basiouny Advisor: Marvin Carlson This dissertation traces the recent emergance of the Arab American Theatre movement, focusing on plays by women dramatists. It presents an overview of contemporary theatre and performances by Arab American women, and explores their focus on political theatre and identity politics, through an examination of works by fifteen contemporary women playwrights and performers. The emergance of this relatively large group of women theatre writers of Arab descent is a significant cultural phenomenon because their productions not only help to create and solidify an Arab American identity for themselves, they also offer this constructed identity to their audiences. The political expression of this young theatre movement takes on different articulations, according to the different genres the dramatists use. The introduction presents Rania Khalil's silent performance piece and Suheir Hammad's collage performance . Chapter one examines three autobiographical solo performances. Leila Buck's ISite and Nora Armani's are theatrical presentations of the self through writing the story of lineage. Soha Al Jurf's documents her visits to the land of origin in the Arab world, connecting her search for identity to the killing of her Palestinian aunt. Chapter two explores the expansion from the individual search to the community. Heather Raffo's is based on interviews conducted over a period of ten years with Iraqi women inside Iraq and in exile, while Nibras Group's presents verbatim responses to the question "What is Arab?" based on fifty interviews with Arab Americans and other Americans. Chapter three discusses how plays by Arab American women dramatists deal with the negotiation of identity by second-generation Arabs in America, looking at two plays by Betty Shamieh, and , and Laura Shamas' . Chapter four examines the comedy of Arab Americans, looking at the work of Maysoon Zayid and discussing the short plays presented at the Arab American Comedy Festival. The conclusion looks at the dominance of women's voice in this emerging theatre movement, and explores the aesthetic of this Arab American theatre.

  • Some Non-Classical Methods in Epistemic Logic and Games

    Author:
    Can Baskent
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Computer Science
    Advisor:
    Rohit Parikh
    Abstract:

    In this dissertation, we consider some non-classical methods in epistemic logic and games. We first consider, dynamic epistemic logics in topological and geometric semantics, and then extend such ideas to the cases where inconsistencies are allowed. Then, as a case example, we discuss a well known paradox in game theory which is essentially a two-person Russell's paradox. Finally, we conclude with considering an alternative approach to games where strategies are considered as the primitives of the theory, and advancing some results.

  • Don't Push Me Over the (Knowl)Edge: The Social Correlates of Latino High School Dropouts

    Author:
    Robert Baskerville
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Sociology
    Advisor:
    Juan Battle
    Abstract:

    According to the forecast of the US Census Bureau, Latinos are the largest, fastest-growing ethnic group within the United States today and will comprise the majority of the US labor force sometime during the mid-21st century. Yet today, the youth of this diverse segment of the population are plagued by alarmingly high high school dropout rates, about double that of African-Americans youth and triple that of white youth. This yawning disparity prompts the examination of the social conditions contributing to this social crisis. How do demographic, aspirational, school-level, and socioeconomic variables affect the decision that so many Latino youth make to drop out of high school? Employing three waves from the Educational Longitudinal Study (2002, 2004 & 2006), this study seeks to add to the discussion of the causes of dropping out among Latinos by examining factors that influence high school persistence rates for a nationally representative sample of Latino youth. This dissertation's theoretical framework combines Bourdieu and Passeron's theory of societal reproduction, labeling theory, and social motivation theory. Variables from all three levels exerted some influence on dropout patterns among Latino youth. Attending a high school located in an urban center was especially significant in predicting the likelihood that a Latino in our sample would drop out of high school, despite the well-known personal costs.

  • THE ROLE OF SEXUAL SATISFACTION IN COUPLE RELATIONSHIP SATISFACTION, INDIVIDUAL STRESS, AND QUALITY OF LIFE

    Author:
    Mae Basow
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Denise Hien
    Abstract:

    One variable frequently found positively associated with relationship satisfaction is sexual satisfaction. In turn, relationship satisfaction is positively associated with both reduced individual stress of each partner and with subjective quality of life. However, little research has examined the relationship among all of these variables. This study examined the possible gender differences in the associations among relationship satisfaction, sexual satisfaction, individual stress, and quality of life. Additionally, this study explored whether the frequency of sex impacts the association among relationship satisfaction and well-being (individual stress and quality of life) for men, but not for women. There were some gender differences in the findings. Specifically, results showed that for men, sexual satisfaction and sexual conflicts were associated with their relationship satisfaction, stress, and quality of life. However, for women, sexual satisfaction and sexual conflicts were not associated with their relationship satisfaction, stress, and quality of life. The results also demonstrated that for both men and women, sexual frequency was not associated with their relationship satisfaction, quality of life, and stress.

  • Neverending Stories: Unauthorized Continuations, Fictional Realities, and the Long-Form Narrative from 1590 - 2011

    Author:
    Balaka Basu
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    English
    Advisor:
    Carrie Hintz
    Abstract:

    In reader-response theory, the open text demands that its readers collaborate in its construction. Such participation requires that these readers invest in the text's narrative universe, an investment made more possible when a fiction exhibits the properties of selvage: a firm, detailed, and consistent framework shot through with unfinished edges (termed fractures) that invite and support the reader's response in the form of continuation. These unauthorized extensions literally transform active reading into writing, while their presence recursively solidifies the fictional universe's imaginary space, further buttressing its autonomous existence. Such narrative reinforcement troubles many critics because an independent fictional reality not owned solely by a primary creator has disruptive implications for textual properties and copyrights. Nevertheless, these unauthorized continuations are the tangible artifacts of invested, pleasurable, and embodied reading, a type of reading and pleasure that is itself a revelatory form of literary criticism. Classifying texts in terms of their readers' desire to enter into and extend the narrative world encourages an understanding of these texts as evolving objects that must be categorized and described not just statically, but also dynamically, in terms of their capacity to generate. Three distinct (though occasionally intersecting) kinds of source-texts are identified here; the first locates the source's imaginary space as a narrative of place, the second as a narrative of society, character, and people, and the third as a narrative of interstices. Narratives of place such as Sir Philip Sidney's Arcadia evoke fantasies of exploration and colonization; narratives of society like Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice call forth fantasies of unveiling; and narratives of interstices such as J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series, as well as various long-running television programs, endorse fantasies of dimensionality and dialogue. An examination of these fantasies of continuation from 1590 to 2011 reveals a cyclical pattern in the reception of derivations and continuations. After the Romantic privileging of originality in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the postmodern conception of creativity once more begins to resemble the more collaborative vision of the early modern period, a perspective which produces a queer, non-normative, multiplicitous, and post-canonical understanding of literature and fiction.

  • Word Association and Semantic Priming in Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders

    Author:
    Dana Battaglia
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Speech & Hearing Sciences
    Advisor:
    Richard Schwartz
    Abstract:

    Lexical organization in individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) is not fully understood. This study investigated the nature of word association in individuals with ASD using two experimental paradigms: a word association task (Experiment 1), followed by an individualized semantic priming task (Experiment 2). In Experiment 1, participants were asked to name as many semantically related words as possible when auditorily presented with a target (e.g., participants heard the word cat and were asked to name semantically related words, within 60 seconds). In Experiment 2, participants were asked to name a target picture, preceded in time by 50 ms. Four types of auditory primes were used: Associated (e.g., bird-nest), Individual Semantic (e.g., bird-(tree)), Identity (e.g., bird-bird), and Unrelated (e.g., bird-car). The primes in the Individual Semantic condition were semantic associates obtained from responses in Experiment 1. Participants were 15 individuals with ASD (aged 14;0 to 19;2), 16 with typical language development matched for chronological age (CAM) (aged 15;0 to 19;7), and 14 with typical language development matched for raw score (VM) on the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test 4th ed (aged 8;1 to 13;4) (Dunn & Dunn, 2007). In Experiment 1, while individuals with ASD produced many appropriate word associations, they also produced more unrelated word associations than both control groups. In Experiment 2, participants' reaction times revealed that individuals with ASD performed similarly to both control groups in all conditions: they exhibited priming in the Identity condition, but not in the Associated and Individual Semantic conditions. Absence of group x condition interaction in the Associated condition calls method into question. Results from Experiment 1 suggest that individuals with ASD have a similarly organized lexicon (i.e., more associated than unrelated responses to a given target), but the breadth and depth of their lexicons may be immature (i.e., higher proportion of unrelated responses, relative to both control groups). Findings have clinical and educational implications for vocabulary instruction in individuals with ASD. Word associations may first appear to be typical. However, in-depth analyses (i.e., monitoring associated, perseveration, proper noun, phrase, or unrelated responses), provides robust information regarding lexical organization.

  • A Behavioral and Biopsychological Investigation of the Role of the Illusion of Control and Perseverative Chasing Between Problem and Non-problem Gamblers

    Author:
    Brett Bauchner
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Michael Lewis
    Abstract:

    The illusion of control is associated with problem gambling. The perception that one is in control of a random event, when in reality there is no control, can facilitate problem gambling behaviors. The degree or extent of control may activate physiological mechanism of increased excitation and reward that reinforce gambling. In the studies presented here, performance on simulated gambling tasks that provided varying levels gambling participation were compared to physiological measures of behavioral activation in problem gambler and nongamblers. Participants watched video clips of three horseraces scenarios that permitted different degrees of participation and control over wagering. Concurrently saliva samples were collected throughout the experiment. Salivary cortisol levels, a glucocorticoid produced in response to hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis activation, were increased in problem gamblers in comparison to nongamblers when they were permitted unrestricted wagering. This study provides evidence that that gamblers produce higher levels of salivary cortisol than nongamblers, only when the illusion of control is present within the gambling session. There was no difference between problem gamblers and nongamblers in cortisol production with wins or losses. No correlation was found between participants' ratings of excitability, desirability of control, and production of salivary cortisol and gambling status. In addition, levels of risk-taking and perseverative chasing (chasing after one's losses) were measured using the Balloon Analogue Risk Task using a population of gamblers and nongamblers. Gamblers were found to be both riskier and more likely to chase their losses than nongamblers. The research reported in this dissertation provides support for the hypothesis that the illusion of control and perseverative chasing are two important factors that facilitate problem gambling behavior. Given these findings, treatment strategies for problem gambling may include methods for addressing these important determinants of the behavior.

  • THE IMPACT OF ATTACHMENT ON SEXUAL RISK TAKING, ATTITUDES AND TRAUMA IN ADOLESCENCE: A STUDY OF NEW YORK INNER CITY YOUTH

    Author:
    Elizabeth Baumann
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Denise Hien
    Abstract:

    The present study examines how attachment impacts sexual behavior, attitudes and sexual risk taking among Latino American and African American adolescents on the Lower East Side of New York City. This population was chosen because inner city teens are at particular risk of HIV/STD infection and because past research suggests a high prevalence of sexual risk among inner city youth. The current study is a secondary analysis of an established study at the Hunter College Center for Urban and Community Health investigating adolescent sexual risk in the context of HIV/AIDS. Participants in this study were 120 Latino and African American adolescent residents of the Lower East Side of Manhattan who completed questions about their sexual and risk taking behavior and knowledge of STDs using a computer-administered battery. The overall purpose of this study is to examine the relationships between these high-risk adolescents' sexual behavior in the context of their attachment organization, sexual attitudes and values, and risk behavior. The study predicted that the way a teenager feels comfortable being intimate with others in the world would have an impact of how he perceives himself as a sexual being. The goal of this study of adolescent sexual behavior using an inner city multi-racial sample was to examine the extent to which insecure attachment and trauma were predictive of sexual risk taking. Investigators accomplished this by examining key variables that were hypothesized to play a role in sexual risk taking behavior. Study results provided some support for the hypotheses and revealed several valuable findings. Results revealed that attachment insecurity was significantly related to sexual risk behavior. Moreover, it was determined that adolescents with higher avoidant attachment were more likely to have had sex and engaged in sexual risk behavior. Adolescents with high attachment anxiety were also more likely to participate in risky sexual behavior. The relationship between attachment organization and these risk behaviors were in part but not significantly mediated by PTSD symptoms. These findings are discussed in relations to implications for understanding attachment in adolescent non-white samples as well as public health and clinical practices for adolescents in urban settings.

  • Sensor Strip Cover: Maximizing Network Lifetime on an Interval

    Author:
    Benjamin Baumer
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Mathematics
    Advisor:
    Amotz Bar-Noy
    Abstract:

    Suppose that n sensors are deployed on a one-dimensional region (a strip, or interval) that we wish to cover with a wireless sensor network. Each sensor is equipped with a finite battery, and has an adjustable sensing range, which we control. If each sensor's battery drains in inverse linear proportion to its sensing radius, which schedule will maximize the lifetime of the resulting network? We study this Sensor Strip Cover problem and several related variants. For the general Sensor Strip Cover problem, we analyze performance in both the worst-case and average-case for several algorithms, and show that the simplest algorithm, in which the sensors take turns covering the entire line, has a tight 3/2-approximation ratio. Moreover, we demonstrate a more sophisticated algorithm that achieves an expected lifetime of within 12% of the theoretical maximum against uniform random deployment of the sensors. We show that if the sensing radii can be set only once, then the resulting Set Once Strip Cover problem is NP-hard. However, if all sensors must be activated immediately, then we provide a polynomial time algorithm for the resulting Set Radius Strip Cover problem. Finally, we consider the imposition of a duty cycling restriction, which forces disjoint subsets of the sensors (called shifts) to act in concert to cover the entire interval. We provide a polynomial-time solution for the case in which each shift contains at most two sensors. For shifts of size k, we provide worst-case and average-case analysis for the performance of several algorithms.

  • Sovereign Debt and Tax Collection Dynamics in Argentina

    Author:
    Kyle Bauser
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Economics
    Advisor:
    Merih Uctum
    Abstract:

    This manuscript examines how the dynamic macroeconomic effects from shocks to taxes and inflation differ between the United States and Argentina. On the fiscal side, wages, private capital, and consumption tax cuts have long-run revenue growth effects (in both countries) that mitigate initial tax receipt losses. These growth effects, however, are larger in Argentina - a country where both the consumption tax rate and sensitivity to wage changes are higher. Specifically, Chapter 2 finds that growth from a U.S. capital tax cut pays for roughly 60% of the initial static loss, whereas the corresponding effect in Argentina is 80%. On the monetary side, multiple regimes are then considered with money in the utility function to determine optimal scenarios, holding tax revenues constant. Chapter 3 concludes that distortions from taxes on wages, private capital, and inflation outweigh the efficiency losses from a consumption tax, and as such, an economy whose government places more emphasis on consumption to generate tax receipts achieves higher utility. The tax frameworks introduced in Chapters 2 and 3 build from the neoclassical Ramsey growth models. Inflation's role as a source of revenue via seigniorage in Chapter 3 is extended to the Argentine fixed income market in Chapter 4. Using proprietary pricing data and a structural vector autoregression framework, Chapter 4 finds that inflation as a predictor of the probability of default in Argentina is much larger than the government claims it to be; despite non-investment-grade government bonds, Argentina's fixed income market actually became more attractive during the U.S. mortgage crisis; and global risk aversion has predictive power in explaining sovereign spreads.