Alumni Dissertations

 

Alumni Dissertations

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  • The Circulation of Blackface: Nostalgia and Tradition in US Minstrel Performance of the Early 1920s

    Author:
    Kevin Byrne
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Theatre
    Advisor:
    David Savran
    Abstract:

    The Circulation of Blackface: Nostalgia and Tradition in US Minstrel Performance of the Early 1920s by Kevin Byrne Adviser: David Savran Due to related issues of distribution and technology, the minstrel show was no longer a commercially viable form of professional entertainment in the second decade of the twentieth century. But the minstrel show did not disappear. Instead, it was absorbed into the technological mass-culture media that was either invented or reached new prominence during the era: national advertisements, promotional products, printed scripts, sheet music, audio recording, and film. This dissertation looks at the first years of the 1920s and analyzes the methods through which minstrelsy's elements were consumed by the US public, the individuals who circulated these conventions, and the racial hegemony of the time period. Some complicated questions arise when minstrelsy is mediatized. How are the show's conventions affected? And its message? What type of reification occurs under these conditions? In what way are there opportunities, particularly for minority performers, to challenge the racist hegemony when faced with such powerful, seductive, and lucrative performances? The chapters of this dissertation are a series of interlocked case studies that examine the pervasiveness of blackface and minstrel tropes in different levels and areas of US society. Chapter two examines how the legacy of Aunt Jemima helped shape the pancake mix advertising campaigns of the 1920s. Chapter three focuses on the mail-order amateur theatrical industry and the minstrel shows written specifically for non-professional performers. Chapter four contrasts three vaudeville circuits, their routes, and their business practices: Big Time white vaudeville; the Theatre Owners' Booking Association, a black circuit; and the Joe Bren Theatrical Company, which toured the country helping community groups stage minstrel shows. The final chapter analyzes the black musical comedies which performed on Broadway: Shuffle Along being the most famous and influential, but also lesser-known works such as Put and Take, How Come, and Chocolate Dandies. What this dissertation aims to prove is just how central blackface and minstrelsy still were to ideas of racial formation, how technology aided and changed these messages, and how adaptable these racist caricatures were to changing social conditions.

  • Property Enhancements of Dielectric Nanoparticles via Surface Functionalization

    Author:
    Andrew Byro
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Chemistry
    Advisor:
    Stephen O'Brien
    Abstract:

    This thesis describes the surface modification of barium strontium titanate nanoparticles for use in polymer/ceramic composite thin film capacitors with resultant improved dielectric and film-making properties. Phosphonic acid-type ligands proved to be most effective for surface conjugation to the surface of the barium strontium titanate nanoparticles. Amine-terminated ligands proved to be effective at removing surface adsorbed water before being almost entirely removed during the sample washing stage. Carboxylic acid terminated ligands proved to adhere less well to the nanoparticle than the phosphonic acid, but resulted in thin films with a higher dielectric constant, which was more stable in the measured frequency range than the phosphonic acid. This is seen via a systematic change in thin film variables, including ligand length, ligand reactive head, presence of polymer composite, and concentration of ligand. The nanoparticles were synthesized, ligands attached, then a series of thin film capacitors were fabricated to study the chang in dielectric properties. The results show a stabilized dielectric constant over a wide frequency range, a dramatically decreased loss, and better film-making properties. The new materials presented in this study are potentially useful as dielectrics for low-energy-density/low-loss capacitors.

  • Phantoms of Home Care and Victims of Designed Neglect: A Qualitative Study of Home Care Nurse and Social Worker Perceptions, Decisions, and Coping with Persons with Alzheimer's disease

    Author:
    William Cabin
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Social Welfare
    Advisor:
    Irwin Epstein
    Abstract:

    Abstract PHANTOMS OF HOME CARE AND VICTIMS OF DESIGNED NEGLECT: A QUALITATIVE STUDY OF HOME CARE NURSE AND SOCIAL WORKER PERCEPTIONS, DECISIONS, AND COPING WITH PERSONS WITH ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE by William D. Cabin Adviser: Professor Irwin Epstein Alzheimer's disease is a major cause of illness and death in the United States, imposing significant social, economic, and psychological burdens on clients and their caregivers. Over 5 million, primarily older, Americans were estimated to have Alzheimer's disease in 2007, with most living at home, cared for by family members or friends (Alzheimer's Association, 2007a, 2007b). A literature review indicates that there are psychosocial, rather than medical, interventions which currently benefit the Alzheimer's population. Despite these findings, the Medicare home health benefit provides virtually no psychosocial care to this population. The literature review also indicates that there has been no research on how home care social workers and nurses perceive, cope with, and make decisions about this population and the consequent impact on their care needs. The dissertation addresses this research gap, interviewing thirty-three home care nurses and thirty-nine home care social workers. The overall finding is that the Medicare home health policy, as mediated by home health agencies, nurses, and social workers, significantly influences the care of persons with Alzheimer's disease and their caregivers. Both home care nurses and social workers assert the lack of coverage results in a system with many unmet client and caregiver needs, high costs, and limited quality. As a result, nurses characterized persons with Alzheimer's disease as "phantoms" while social workers characterized them as "victims of designed neglect". Overall social workers and nurses conformed to policy, with social workers more conformist than nurses. Both social workers and nurses agreed that the more conformist their practice, the more limited the care and greater the unmet client need. Nurses and social workers were virtually equal as innovators, seeking creative, legitimate means to provide greater care, and rebels, invoking illegitimate means to achieve their goals. These coping strategies validated, in part, pre-existing theory of Merton (1938, 1957). Home care nurses expressed greater job satisfaction, ability to effectively deliver care, and ability to use professional training than social workers. The dissertation recommends research, policy, practice, and advocacy actions to create more cost-effective Medicare home health coverage of the needs of persons with Alzheimer's disease and their caregivers.

  • Essays in Market Efficiency

    Author:
    Juan Cabrera
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Economics
    Advisor:
    Tao Wang
    Abstract:

    This dissertation investigates the market inefficiencies of both foreign exchange and equity markets. On the one hand, the efficiency of foreign exchange markets is explored through the measurement of the contribution to price discovery of the spot and futures market, and the its effect on intermarket mispricing. On the other hand, the efficiency of equity markets is tested by examining the martingale behavior of recently popular international stock index ETFs. The first chapter provides a comprehensive analysis of the dynamic intraday price discovery process of the Euro and Japanese Yen exchange rates in three foreign exchange markets based on electronic trading systems: the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) GLOBEX regular futures, E-mini futures, and the EBS interdealer spot market. Contrary to evidence in equity markets and more recent evidence in foreign exchange markets, the spot market is found to consistently lead the price discovery process for both currencies during the sample period. Furthermore, E-mini futures do not contribute more to the price discovery than the electronically traded regular futures. In the second chapter, we examine the daily return predictability for eighteen international stock index ETFs. Out-of-sample tests are conducted, based on linear and various popular nonlinear models and both statistical and economic criteria for model comparison. The main results show evidence of predictability for six of eighteen ETFs. A simple linear autoregression model, and a nonlinear-in-variance GARCH model, but not several popular nonlinear-in-mean models help outperform the martingale model. The allowance of data-snooping bias also substantially weakens otherwise apparently strong predictability. The final chapter investigates the relationship between the deviations of prices from their no-arbitrage value and the differences in informational efficiency across foreign exchange markets trading the same underlying asset. This relationship is examined by jointly modeling the dynamics of the futures-cash basis and information share differential across futures and cash markets. Evidence of two-way Granger causality between the no-arbitrage futures-cash basis and the relative speed of adjustment measure is found. Shocks to the no-arbitrage basis predict future differences in the speed of adjustment, and vice versa. The evidence is robust to different currency markets and different degrees of liquidity.

  • Exploration of Unknown Structured Environments with Multiple Robots

    Author:
    Flavio Cabrera-Mora
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Engineering
    Advisor:
    Jizhong Xiao
    Abstract:

    Multi-robot systems are expected to perform faster than their single-robot counterpart in different areas of robotics such as exploration, localization and mapping. For exploration, a faster task completion is only one of the advantages of using multi-robot systems. Among other benefits are better reliability, increased robustness and improved efficiency. Coordination of the movement of the robots is required in order to attain those benefits. As such, a fundamental problem in multi-robot exploration is to know how the robots should coordinate their movements inside the environment in order to perform the exploration process either faster or more efficiently. In this work, we propose two coordination algorithms that address two of the constraints imposed on multi-robot systems: exploration time and total traversed distance. We characterize their behavior mathematically and find out their performance in time and distance. We consider the situation of multiple robots exploring a structured environment, modeled as a graph, from a single starting vertex. The graph is initially unknown; the existence of edges becomes known only when a robot sees one end of the edge from a vertex, and the other end of the edge becomes known only when the robot actually follows that edge. This models an environment of sites with passages between them, where the passages are opaque: from either end it is not clear where the passage goes. The mathematical analysis allows us to obtain the main properties of the algorithms and the bounds of the exploration time. In order to compare the efficiency of the algorithms in time and traversed distance, we derive three criteria of performance for multi-robot systems. In the last part of this thesis we study the effects of the number of robots in the exploration process. Given the fact that the exploration time cannot be reduced indefinitely, even when the number of robots is increased infinitely, we perform an analysis in order to obtain the limit on the number of robots that produces the maximum reduction in the exploration time.

  • ENVISIONED COMMUNITIES: AFRICAN AMERICAN LIFE AND THE MOVING PICTURES, 1896-1927

    Author:
    Cara Caddoo
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    History
    Advisor:
    Stuart Ewen
    Abstract:

    This dissertation investigates the role of cinema in the modern black experience and the generative role that African Americans played in the creation of American modernity. Two questions animate this study. First, how did African Americans consolidate their institutions and social bonds amid the distending forces of turn-of-the-century migration? Second, how and why did cinema--as a location, medium, and set of practices--become so important to the collective articulation of black identity in the early twentieth century? By mapping the patterns of turn-of-the-century migration with the development of black cinema practices from 1896 to 1927, this project traces black economic, social, and cultural practices across space and time. It begins in the post-Reconstruction period, when African Americans looked inward to fortifying the institutions that stood at the center of black life. Yet at the same time, hundreds of thousands of black migrants were departing the countryside for the urban South and West. At this curious juncture when black life was both turning inward and expanding outward, African Americans used film as a tool for collective racial progress. Black churches, halls, and schools hosted moving picture exhibitions, which brought the race together and raised money for the construction of buildings that conspicuously demonstrated black material progress. Eventually black film exhibition moved into colored theaters, which became celebrated monuments of black life and public claims to urban space in the Jim Crow city. During this time, African Americans associated race and cinema primarily with tangible, physical locations. Yet when colored theaters started to compete with black religious institutions, middle class blacks were forced to reconsider the ideas of racial uplift, which championed both piety and black-owned businesses. After 1910, a series of events--including Jack Johnson's victory as heavyweight champion of the world--further shifted the focus from the exhibition site to the screen. Black conceptions of freedom and natural rights based on new sensibilities of racial representation informed the first mass protest movement of African Americans in the twentieth century as well as transnational formations of racial identity articulated by the race film industry.

  • WHY WE SHOULD NOT BE UNHAPPY ABOUT HAPPINESS VIA ARISTOTLE

    Author:
    Irene Caesar
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Philosophy
    Advisor:
    Peter Simpson
    Abstract:

    The purpose of my dissertation is to resolve the ongoing argument in the modern Anglo-American interpretation of Aristotelianism regarding the principle of eudaimonia (happiness). Exlusivist interpretation argues that the principle of eudaimonia is one dominant or exclusive telos (end) consisting of the aretĂȘ (excellence or virtue) of the contemplation of the divine. Inclusivist interpretation argues that the principle of eudaimonia is an inclusive or compounded telos containing this and all other Aristote-lian virtues in a comprehensive or mixed life ruled by the practical wisdom. I offer the functionalist interpretation that goes beyond the dichotomy of inclusivism and exclusivism in arguing that (1) contrary to exclusivism, contemplation is functionally linked with all the other activities of the soul throughout the entire Aristotelian corpus and that (2) contrary to inclusivism, contemplation is functionally superior to each and all of the other activi-ties of the soul, making a compound model irrelevant in its incapacity to express the hier-archy within the soul. The soul and polis are both systematic wholes organized by the ruler nous (intuitive reason / active intellect) with its activity (energeia) of contemplation via formulating metron (measure). Metron in relation to us depends on metron within the object, and the latter is assumed a priori as a major premiss (the universal) in the practical and speculative syllogisms, while the practical reason is incapable of defining the universal. Eudaimonia is a perfect realization of the function of the ruler. Humans are functionally distinct from other animals precisely by this contemplative ability of a priori assuming the universal within the particular. Soul, as any systematic whole, is identified not with the hierarchy of its parts, but with its ruler, and the final virtue is identified with the virtue of the ruler. The passive intellect and the active intellect are accordingly the practical reason and the contemplative reason. The first principle and end (the cause) of action is leisure spent in the disinterested and useless contemplative activity of the ruler -- the active intellect. The moral action, which does not reach this end, is not ultimately good-in-itself though outright dutiful.

  • Adjustment and Change Among Bisexual Women: A Longitudinal Analysis

    Author:
    Jane Caflisch
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Margaret Rosario
    Abstract:

    Higher levels of psychological distress have been found among representative samples of bisexual adults than among comparable samples of gay, lesbian, or heterosexual adults, yet significant variability in mental health outcomes has also been found between bisexual individuals. This longitudinal, mixed-methods study (Time 1 N=50, Time 2 N=40) aimed to examine why bisexual women may be at heightened risk for distress, and also to identify factors associated with psychological adjustment among this population. Theories that associate bisexuality with cognitive dissonance and identity diffusion were reviewed and critiqued, and an alternative model of identity integration for bisexuals, built around toleration of multiplicity and paradox within one's self and one's relationships with others, was proposed. It was hypothesized that the capacity to tolerate paradoxical aspects of bisexuality would be predicted by personality organization, differentiation-relatedness, and attachment. Further, it was hypothesized that mental health outcomes among this population would be predicted by the following factors: 1) capacity to tolerate paradoxical aspects of bisexuality, 2) experiences of internally- and externally-imposed pressure to "resolve" one's bisexuality into a binary model, 3) experiences of community support for and stigma against bisexuality, 4) experiences of emotional attachment and sexual excitement as integrated versus split in romantic relationships, and 5) need for cognitive closure. The interaction between capacity to tolerate paradoxical aspects of bisexuality and degree of change over time in sexual attractions, behaviors and/or self-identifications was also hypothesized to predict mental health outcomes. Multiple linear regression analyses were conducted to examine relations between hypothesized predictors and outcomes, controlling for socio-demographic covariates. Qualitative data were then revisited to elaborate on patterns identified through quantitative analyses, and to illuminate additional dynamics from the focused interviews. In particular, qualitative analyses were used to examine the ways in which change over time in sexual attractions and self-identifications were understood by participants and integrated into their self-concepts; to understand the extent to which different participants experienced emotional and erotic aspects of relationships as integrated or split with male versus female partners; and to consider the ways in which participants' attempts to negotiate these dynamics were shaped by internal, relational and environmental factors.

  • TRANSFORMATIVE SCIENCE EDUCATION THROUGH ACTION RESEARCH AND SELF-STUDY PRACTICES

    Author:
    Olga Calderon
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Urban Education
    Advisor:
    Kenneth Tobin
    Abstract:

    The research studies human emotions through diverse methods and theoretical lenses. My intention in using this approach is to provide alternative ways of perceiving and interpreting emotions being experienced in the moment of arousal. Emotions are fundamental in human interactions because they are essential in the development of effective relationships of any kind and they can also mediate hostility towards others. I begin by presenting an impressionist auto-ethnography, which narrates a personal account of how science and scientific inquiry has been entrenched in me since childhood. I describe how emotions are an important part of how I perceive and respond to the world around me. I describe science in my life in terms of natural environments, which were the initial source of scientific wonder and bafflement for me. In this auto-ethnography, I recount how social interactions shaped my perceptions about people, the world, and my education trajectory. Furthermore, I illustrate how sociocultural structures are used in different contexts to mediate several life decisions that enable me to pursue a career in science and science education. I also reflect on how some of those sociocultural aspects mediated my emotional wellness. I reveal how my life and science are interconnected and I present my story as a segue to the remainder of the dissertation. In chapters 2 and 3, I address a methodology and associated methods for research on facial expression of emotion. I use a facial action coding system developed by Paul Ekman in the 1970s (Ekman, 2002) to study facial representation of emotions. In chapters 4 and 5, I review the history of oximetry and ways in which an oximeter can be used to obtain information on the physiological expression of emotions. I examine oximetry data in relation to emotional physiology in three different aspects; pulse rate, oxygenation of the blood, and plethysmography (i.e., strength of pulse). In chapters 3 and 5, I include data and observations collected in a science education course for science teachers at Brooklyn College. These observations are only a small part on a larger study of emotions and mindfulness in the science classroom by a group of researchers of the City University of New York. In this context, I explore how, while teaching and learning science, emotions are represented facially and physiologically in terms of oxygenation of the blood and pulse rate and strength.

  • NEURAL SUBSTRATES OF VISUAL PROCESSING AND OBJECT RECOGNITION DEFICITS IN SCHIZOPHRENIA

    Author:
    Daniel Calderone
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Pamela Butler
    Abstract:

    Mounting evidence has shown that patients with schizophrenia have preferential deficits of the magnocellular versus the parvocellular visual system. Experiment 1 examined this deficit in schizophrenia patients utilizing an electrophysiological paradigm. Patients showed preferential magnocellular deficits in electrophysiological response indicative of impaired contrast gain (response amplification at low contrast) and contrast gain control (inhibition of responses at high contrast), which are used preferentially by this pathway to optimize responses. Patients also displayed deficits in psychophysical contrast sensitivity, further showing deficient contrast gain in the magnocellular pathway. These electrophysiological and psychophysical deficits were associated with neuropsychological and emotion processing deficits, which predicted functional outcome. Experiment 2 utilized functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to examine the neural underpinnings of the paradigms used in Experiment 1. fMRI responses to magnocellular- and parvocellular-biased contrast stimuli from the electrophysiological paradigm showed that contrast gain (i.e., signal amplification) was related to increases in volume of relatively weak occipital activation, while contrast gain control (i.e., signal inhibition) was related to strong a occipital activation over a smaller volume. Inhibitory contrast gain control was also linked to negative parafoveal activation, which was less apparent for patients. fMRI responses to a contrast sensitivity procedure showed reduced volume of occipital activation to low spatial frequency (LSF), but not high spatial frequency (HSF), stimuli for patients, indicating a general deficit in activation volume for LSF stimuli which are preferentially processed by the magnocellular system. Experiment 3 examined consequences of magnocellular dysfunction for object recognition in schizophrenia. Patients showed deficits in fMRI activation to LSF object stimuli over a widespread cortical network, indicating a loss of early-stage low resolution object information. Patients instead showed an increase in activation to HSF object stimuli in some areas, suggesting compensation for LSF deficits with HSF information. Together, these three experiments further elucidated the neural substrates of preferential magnocellular deficits in schizophrenia, and demonstrated that such deficits may propagate to higher cognitive processes such as object recognition.