Alumni Dissertations

 

Alumni Dissertations

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  • Two Sides to a Drum: Duality in Trinidad Orisha Music and Culture

    Author:
    Ryan Bazinet
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    Peter Manuel
    Abstract:

    This dissertation presents an ethnographic and historical study of music and culture in the Yoruba-derived Trinidad Orisha religion in Trinidad and New York City. Its objectives are: (1) to provide description and documentation of Trinidad Orisha music, an understudied music genre in the African diaspora; (2) to shed light on the historical, cultural, and demographic factors contributing to the development of Trinidad Orisha music by its practitioners; and (3) to provide substance for meaningful comparisons between Trinidad Orisha music and other Yoruba-derived musics. Based on four years of fieldwork (2008-2012) in Trinidad and in Brooklyn, NY, the study explores Trinidad Orisha as a neo-African musical and religious practice at a crossroads of often oppositional transnational and postcolonial forces. The history of the religion includes criminalization, ridicule, and recent valorization as part of a middle class revival, and is emblematic of larger social and political transformations that have occurred since Trinidad's independence and the development of New York as an essential locale within the Trinidadian diaspora. The analysis is based on data gathered from field recordings of Trinidad Orisha ceremonies; formal interviews and informal conversations with Trinidad Orisha musicians, priests and others; and the author's own observations made while drumming during Trinidad Orisha rituals, including subjective insights into his experiences of the music, as both performer and listener. Musical performance is the main context for the practice of the Trinidad Orisha religion, and so the dissertation privileges music, and the experiences of musicians, as a central means of understanding the religion's history and present. The thesis of the dissertation invokes the physicality of a Trinidad Orisha drum - double-sided and thus approachable from more than one angle - as a metaphor for a basic duality in a complex cultural practice that is simultaneously Yoruba and Trinidadian. The conception of duality in Trinidad Orisha music and culture also refers to the push and pull between preservation and innovation; marginalization and revivalism; diaspora and homeland. The dialogue between these various forces is at the heart of understanding Trinidad Orisha music and its contextualization among musics of the African diaspora.

  • Landscape Aesthetics and the Sublime in France, 1748-1830

    Author:
    Thomas Beachdel
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Art History
    Advisor:
    Patricia Mainardi
    Abstract:

    This dissertation examines the expression of the sublime in French painting between the years 1748 and 1830, a period spanning ancien régime, Revolution, Terror, Directory, First French Empire, and Bourbon Restoration. It reveals the existence and persistence of a grand classical strain of the sublime derived from Longinus's first century On the Sublime that was passed into the eighteenth century by Nicolas Boileau-Despréaux's 1674 French translation, Traité du sublime [Treatise on the Sublime]. These works stress noble greatness and elevation more than the fear and terror more commonly associated during this period with the sublime as articulated by Edmund Burke in his 1757 A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful. In addition to establishing the existence and examining the articulation of the sublime in eighteenth-century France that is primarily based on the conveyance of noble elevation and greatness, this dissertation also suggests that the French sublime is unique in that it incorporates the influence of the Burkean sublime of fear and terror. Thus, the sublime in France is what I call multivalent; it can express both greatness and fear, elevation and terror. This complex admixture is significant for its rich and varied range of meanings particularly in the context of landscape painting, a relatively unimportant category of painting at the beginning of the eighteenth century, but which became a major genre in France between 1740 and 1790. This time period that forms the core of this dissertation, not incidentally, also saw the emergence of an intense focus on the subject of aesthetics, including the aesthetic category of the sublime. In his commentary on work submitted to the Paris Salon, the French critic Denis Diderot devotes roughly a quarter of his Salon of 1767 to the work of Claude-Joseph Vernet (1714-1789) and Hubert Robert (1733-1808). In his elaborate discussion of these artists, one who had a penchant for painting wild seascapes and shipwrecks and the other who had a proclivity for painting ruins, Diderot lent critical weight not only to the genre of landscape but also to the connection between their work and the sublime. This is significant in that unlike England with its well-documented sublime landscape tradition, eighteenth-century France has been viewed as virtually bereft of a sublime tradition due to its close ties to the Classical landscape tradition. The sublime is a powerful and nuanced concept that expressed a cultural and political ideology tied to the grandness and continuity of France. More than an inert aesthetic category, the sublime is also an incredibly flexible and powerful conduit of a wide range of ideas. It can be seen expressed in Vernet's emphasis on the heroic individual in his paintings of shipwrecks, Pierre-Jacques Volaire's (1729-1799) emphasis on the natural power of volcanic eruption as a vital new way of viewing the natural world, and in Robert's painting of the Louvre in ruins that attests to the cultural monumentalization of France projected into the future. Finally, the elevation, or apotheosis, of the cultural and political--sublime greatness--of Restoration France was inscribed on the ceiling of the 1826 Musée Charles X in the institutionalization of that sublime ideology.

  • Normal Families and Mondromies of Holomorphic Motions

    Author:
    Michael Beck
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Mathematics
    Advisor:
    Yunping Jiang
    Abstract:

    We explore some generalizations of results in holomorphic motions that result from Earle's infinite-dimensional generalization of Montel's Theorem. We then investigate topological obstructions to extending holomorphic motions. We finish with some miscellaneous facts.

  • Effects of Group Parent-Training with Online Parent-Teacher Communication on the Homework Performance of Elementary School Students

    Author:
    Richard Beck
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Educational Psychology
    Advisor:
    Marian Fish
    Abstract:

    The purpose of this study was to investigate the effectiveness of the Homework Improvement Program, a 5-week group-formatted parent training program, in enhancing the homework performance of children experiencing homework difficulties. The study was conducted in an elementary school with a sample consisting of the parents of seven students (N=7) in grades 5 and 6 who were experiencing significant homework difficulties. In accordance with the Conjoint Behavioral Consultation (CBC) model which emphasizes the importance of home-school communication, online Electronic Daily Report Card (EDRC) software was developed as a component of the program through which parents were provided a direct avenue of communication with their child's teacher. The EDRC attempted to address limitations of previously developed home-school communication methods, while maximizing efficiency, and minimizing teacher obligation. It was also designed to be user-friendly for parents. The EDRC informed parents of their child's homework assignments, instructions, and teacher expectations on a daily basis. It also served as a data collection tool through which parents could be provided with regular feedback regarding their child's progress through the program. Results indicated that the intervention was effective in improving homework completion rates for 100% of study participants. A PND analysis revealed the intervention to be Highly Effective in improving rates of homework completion for 57.14% of the participants (4), and Moderately Effective for the remaining 42.86% of participants (3). All students showed improvements in rates of homework completion, with gains maintained at a four-week follow-up. A PAND analysis of homework completion data revealed a large effect size (Phi=.90, 95%CI), with 95.08% of data non-overlapping with baseline rates. Parent ratings of problematic homework behaviors as reported on the Homework Problems Checklist (HPC) reflected a decrease in problematic homework behaviors from baseline to intervention completion, with improvements maintained at follow-up. Responses to treatment satisfaction questionnaires indicated that participants reported a very high level of satisfaction with all aspects of the program. These results suggest that by offering an interactive and collaborative school-based intervention that directly involves parents, positive behavior change can be accomplished that extends into both the home and school settings.

  • Examining the association of medication complexity with health-related quality of life in older adults receiving community-based long term services and supports

    Author:
    Claudia Beck
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Nursing Studies
    Advisor:
    Kathleen Nokes
    Abstract:

    Abstract EXAMINING THE ASSOCIATION OF MEDICATION COMPLEXITY WITH HEALTH-RELATED QUALITY OF LIFE IN OLDER ADULTS RECEIVING COMMUNITY-BASED LONG TERM SERVICES AND SUPPORTS by Claudia A. Beck Adviser: Dr. Kathleen Nokes While the complexity of a medication regimen is a concern for all individuals, it is of significant concern for community-dwelling older adults who often require multiple medications to treat chronic health problems. Health related quality of life (HRQoL) has been identified as a key quality outcome measure when assessing care of older adults, particularly those with long-term care needs. Although the use of multiple medications has been widely explored in the literature, there is a paucity of data regarding the combination of several medication-related factors (number of active medications, therapeutic drug class, and medication regimen complexity) and HRQoL in older adults. Wilson and Cleary's health-related quality of life conceptual model was the theoretical framework used to guide this study. This secondary analysis examined the relationship among the number of active medications, the number of therapeutic drug classes, and medication regimen complexity and HRQoL in community-dwelling older adults (68% Hispanic, 75% female) who were recent recipients of home and community-based services (H&CBS). The subjects in this study (N =123) were enrolled in a large, multi-site study (N=470) (R01-AG025524, PI, M. Naylor). Medication-related data were obtained from medical charts, counted to include the active number of medications as all prescription and over the counter drugs (mean =9.3), and a therapeutic drug class tool (mean =4.9) measured the number of distinct therapeutic drug classes included in a medication regimen. Medication regimen complexity (mean = 20.6) was measured using the Medication Regimen Complexity Index (MRCI). The Medical Outcomes Study Short Form (MOS SF-12 v2) physical (PCS) and mental component scores (MCS) measured HRQoL. After controlling for age, gender, education, race, ethnicity, marital status and cognitive status, it was determined that the number of active medications (beta coefficient -.497, p=.012) was a key predictor of physical health-related quality of life, while therapeutic drug class and medication regimen complexity were not associated with either physical or mental health-related quality of life. The number of medications impacts on physical health-related quality of life but the directionality of that relationship is not clear; there were no significant effects on mental health-related-related quality of life and medication-related variables. Keywords: Older adults, active medications, therapeutic drug class, medication regimen complexity, community-based long term services and supports.

  • The Volatile American Voter: Inconsistent Voting Behavior in the United States, 1948-2004

    Author:
    Arthur Beckman
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Political Science
    Advisor:
    John Mollenkopf
    Abstract:

    This dissertation is a study of the political behavior, demographics, and attitudes of Americans who have been inconsistent in party choice, turnout, or both in presidential elections from 1948 to 2004. Most prior scholarship has indicated that these individuals, who play a pivotal role in electoral outcomes, have comprised a minority of the American electorate. The analyses presented here, however, reveal that these "volatile" voters have, from 1948 to 2004, comprised between 50.5 and 60.7 percent of the voting public. Volatile voters are, overall, less likely to be politically sophisticated than party-loyal voters. But the aggregation of all volatile voters into one group when assessing their levels of political aptitude and engagement obscures the fact that volatile sophisticates are plentiful in the United States, and have comprised between 18.1 and 27.0 percent of the electorate since the 1948 - a segment that is decisively large. The large distribution of volatile sophisticates, and volatile voters overall, provides support for the notion that voter engagement with political issues regularly overcomes the habitual party affinities of a substantial fraction of the American public, and that issues indeed matter to voters, most of whom engage them and act upon them in a reasoning manner. I additionally provide evidence, contrary to the findings in much voting and elections literature, that volatile voters can be reliably identified and quantified using sociological measures.

  • Cyclic Pitch Organization in the Twelve-Tone Works of Aaron Copland

    Author:
    Lisa Behrens
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    Joseph Straus
    Abstract:

    Abstract CYCLIC PITCH ORGANIZATION IN THE TWELVE-TONE WORKS OF AARON COPLAND by Lisa S. Behrens Advisor: Joseph Straus Late in his career, Aaron Copland composed four twelve-tone works; the Quartet for Piano and Strings (1950), the Piano Fantasy (1957), ConnotationsInscape (1967). Rather than constituting a sudden conversion to serial composition, Copland's mature twelve-tone works constitute a revival of serial procedures that antedates and pervades his American works of the 1930s and 40s. Consequently, in this dissertation I will assert a stylistic continuity that informs the mature twelve-tone works, which also distinguishes Copland's tonal idiom. This continuity contradicts the distinction between Copland's "severe" and "simple," or "highbrow" and "lowbrow" styles, which has been previously promoted in the literature. Accordingly, I will show that Copland adapted twelve-tone principles to his already well-established idiom, transferring salient features of the harmonic language in his American works to a serial platform. As a result, all of the mature twelve-tone works employ cyclic row classes that are based on whole-tone relationships. The cyclic properties of those row classes generate a plethora of symmetrical constructs that recreate the distinctive fourth-and-fifth-harmonies that are typical of Copland's tonal harmonic language. There are four additional compositional principles that determine the organization of pitch: segmental invariance, whole-tone complementation, cyclic formal articulation, and a generalized collectional interaction between pentatonic, octatonic, and hexatonic sets.

  • Population Genetics of Canine Heartworm (Dirofilaria immitis)

    Author:
    Diana Belanger
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Biology
    Advisor:
    Robert Rockwell
    Abstract:

    Dirofilaria immitis, canine heartworm, is a filarial nematode that may have genetic features that favor the development of drug resistance, including rapid rates of mutation, large population sizes, and high levels of gene flow. This parasite is currently treated with macrocyclic lactone anthelminthics, and while it has not yet shown evidence for evolving resistance to these chemotherapeutic compounds, resistance has evolved in related filarial nematodes infecting ruminants and humans. Heartworm samples from domestic dogs and coyotes were obtained via donations from veterinarians and researchers across the United States. I isolated and characterized 11 microsatellite loci for canine heartworm. Using the observed distribution of alleles, I determined the amount of genetic variability and quantified the partitioning of genetic variance. In conjunction with microsatellite data, specific mitochondrial (cox1) and Wolbachia (wsp and ftsZ) loci were used to genotype a subset of host taxa. Results indicate a lack of mitochondrial diversity and maximum likelihood trees show no discernable geographic patterning on a continental scale. This is not unexpected in a Wolbachia-infected organism like D. immitis as this bacterium has been shown to purge mitochondrial diversity in numerous model systems. After establishing baseline genetic parameters, a model of population dynamics was created to answer questions about the potential spread of drug resistance alleles. In the absence of selection, gene flow between subpopulations drives the dispersal of drug resistance alleles. Fixation time is directly proportional to selection pressure. When resistance alleles arise in a source population they spread more rapidly than if they arise in a sequestered population.

  • Modern Time: Photography and Temporality

    Author:
    Kris Belden-Adams
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Art History
    Advisor:
    Geoffrey Batchen
    Abstract:

    This dissertation explores the fluid relationship of photography to time. Many theorists have noted that photography has a distinctive manner of representing temporality. Roland Barthes, for example, wrote that the photograph has a peculiar capacity to represent the past in the present, and thus to imply the passing of time in general. As a consequence, Barthes argued, all photographs speak of the inevitability of our own death in the future. Moreover, he linked photography's peculiar temporality to its capacity for a certain kind of realism: "false on the level of perception, true on the level of time." Barthes's analysis poses a challenge to all commentators on photography - what exactly is photography's relationship to time, and by extension, to reality? This dissertation addresses that two-part question by analyzing in detail a sample of understudied vernacular photographic practices. Rather than provide a comprehensive, and necessarily incomplete, study of every possible way in which photography can relate to time, this study instead focuses on a number of in-depth analyses of specific photographic practices. These practices represent time in at least three distinct ways: as narrative time, device-altered time, and composite time. My study examines the motivations for photography's insistent struggle to reorganize time's passage, to freeze or slow it for a moment, or to give form to time's fluctuating conditions. I suggest that this struggle is both symptomatic of modernity as a general phenomenon and a manifestation of the photographic medium's conditional relationship to reality, a relationship which arguably has been complicated by the use of digital technology. This dissertation examines photography's unique capacity to represent the passage of time with a degree of elasticity, simultaneity, and abstraction. The medium's ability to represent many levels of temporal experience and indexical slippage, I argue, illustrates photography's potential to relate to and reflect the complexities of modern consciousness. This dissertation also exemplifies the need for a new kind of history - one that addresses the multiple identities of "the photographic" rather than simply "the photograph." This work is a contribution to that project.

  • The Road to Recovery: A Neural Characterization of Cocaine Abstinence

    Author:
    Ryan Bell
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    John Foxe
    Abstract:

    Cocaine addiction is a significant public health issue with an outsized effect on the individual and society at large. A principal reason for the immense social and personal costs associated with cocaine addiction is the difficulty in remaining abstinent. Utilizing diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), current cocaine dependence has been associated with deficits in white matter integrity and atypical neural activation in multiple cognitive control regions. However, while the neurobiological and behavioral deficits associated with current cocaine dependence have been well-characterized, it is relatively unknown if these deficits persist after the cessation of cocaine use. To elucidate neurobiological functioning during cocaine abstinence, we conducted three experiments utilizing either DTI or fMRI methodology in cocaine dependent (CD) individuals at varying periods of abstinence. The results of these investigations show that as a group, abstinent CD individuals do not display the same neurobiological deficits as current users. We speculate that the absence of these deficits may be partly due to the intensive drug-treatment programs the participants were enrolled in. However, when we conducted subject-level examinations, we found that abstinent CD individuals displayed neurobiological functioning related to the duration of abstinence. We postulate then that continued abstinence may be responsible for an amelioration of neurobiological deficits or reflect preexisting differences that allow for extended abstinence. Additionally, we observed participant-level differences that were not a function of duration of abstinence leading us to speculate that recovery occurs at temporally different rates in some individuals. Overall, it appears that while a majority of recovering individuals do not display the neurobiological deficits associated with current cocaine users, there exists a subset of individuals that continue to display these deficits. We hypothesize that those individuals who continue to display neurobiological deficits will have the greatest risk of cocaine relapse.