Alumni Dissertations

 

Alumni Dissertations

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  • An Empirical Analysis of Adult Romantic Attachment and Sexuality

    Author:
    Belinda Carrasco
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Diana Diamond
    Abstract:

    The purpose of this dissertation was to empirically explore the relationship between adult romantic attachment and sexual functioning in a sexual partner who is viewed as an attachment figure, a target of caregiving or both. Guiding this dissertation was the expectation that underlying the four prototypical patterns of adult romantic attachment is a distinct pattern of positive and negative working models of attachment of self and other that shape the way individuals experience and engage in sexuality. We analyzed the responses of 81 female students and young adult community volunteers from the New York City area and Westchester County, who responded to self-report measures regarding sexual satisfaction, capacity for stability of sexual relationships and functioning in the sexual response cycle, in addition to responding to adult romantic attachment questionnaires. Results revealed that secure attachment is related to sexual satisfaction, low permissiveness and tendency to seek sex in committed relationships. The findings also indicated that the capacity to experience pleasure and stability of sexual relationships, in combination with the physical aspects of sex, such as arousal, excitement and orgasm, are the essence of a securely attached relationship. By contrast, insecure attachment was found to be positively correlated with little commitment and dependency in romantic relationships, as well as sexual dissatisfaction. In specific, dismissive and fearful women downplayed the importance of sexual relationships, reported higher levels of aggression, as well as reported optimal sexuality functioning in areas that only entail physical aspects of sex and do not include components of affection, tenderness and mutuality between people. Results also indicated that women who have a preoccupied attachment status showed less sexual satisfaction than other insecure women, and more sexual dysfunction defined by a lower capacity for orgasm, arousal, sexual excitement and openness to varied sexual practices. Overall, the results indicated that ambivalent/preoccupied women are attuned to their attachment needs and gear their sexual behavior towards getting those needs gratified. In other words, in anxious women the hyper-activation of the attachment system overrides the capacity to experience sexual pleasure, satisfaction, commitment to a relationship and the experience of orgasm, and thus experience and interpret sexual activity as a reflection of their relationship status.

  • Negotiating Individualism: Apologies, Social Contracts, and the Romantic Making of the Self

    Author:
    Charles Carroll
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    English
    Advisor:
    Nancy Yousef
    Abstract:

    Abstract Negotiating Individualism : Apologies, Social Contracts, and the Romantic Making of the Self by Charles Durning Carroll Advisor: Professor Nancy Yousef "Negotiating Individualism : Apologies, Social Contracts, and the Romantic Making of the Self" ar-gues that a central mechanism for the formation of our modern identity is the ritual of the apology. This is because as a speech act the apology always involves a recognition of the notion of contract upon which depends much of what we think of as modern about society. According to the view I advance here our understanding of our sense of individualism is based on a negotiation between the personal language of the apology and those collective ideals embodied in the social contract. I argue that our transition from an ancient world of fixed social position to our contemporary, more fluid view of ourselves depended on a movement from social coercion to collective agreement and from the rule of physical force to that of persuasive language. This social change depended first upon reconceiving of ourselves in imaginary terms as persons of equal power, and second on the construction of narratives that helped model our newly reimagined selves. These narra-tives required the use of a new sort of persuasive language--the literary apology. Literary apologies helped construct our modern self because structurally they were contractual offerings--proposals for negotiation and linguistic agreement. Writers of imaginative literature used such literary apologies to habituate readers to the idea of a social contract and to the political equality and individual rights that the contract inherently assumed. After a conceptual and historical overview in the Introduction, the first chapter takes up Hobbes' Leviathan as that form of the social contract ultimately productive of the modern self. The contract Hobbes establishes requires an individual act of forgiveness as one of the preconditions for the establishment of his social contract. Chapter Two shows how in his Confessions Jean-Jacques Rousseau rewrites the Hobbesian social contract by converting this passive idea of forgiveness into the active form of the apology. Chapter Three, on William Godwin's Caleb Williams, analyses the apology's subsequent evolution from an external in-the-world act, to its literary form. In my final chapter I show how Jane Austen, as an inheritor of the literary apology, is able to use it to bring women into being as politically viable entities.

  • The Lived Experiences of Transition to Adult Healthcare in Young Adults with Cerebral Palsy

    Author:
    Ellen Carroll
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Nursing Studies
    Advisor:
    Carol Roye
    Abstract:

    Background: Health Care Transition (HCT) describes the purposeful, planned movement of adolescents from child to adult-orientated care. The purpose of this phenomenological study is to uncover the meaning of transition to adult centered care as experienced by Young Adults with Cerebral Palsy (YA-CP) through the research question: What are the lived experiences of young adults with cerebral palsy transitioning from pediatric to adult healthcare? Method: 6 females and 3 males, aged 19 -25 years of age, who identified as carrying the diagnosis of cerebral palsy without cognitive impairment were interviewed. Giorgi's (1985) method for analysis of phenomenology was the framework for the study and guided the phenomenological reduction. Results: The lived experiences of YA-CPs transition to adult health care, expressed from the data is expert novices with evidence and experience based expectations, negotiating new systems (effective/ineffective) interdependently (parents and provider support) accepting less than was expected. Conclusions: More information and support is needed for the YA-CP during transition to ensure a well-organized move to appropriate adult-oriented health care that is considerate of the lifelong impact of the disorder. Nursing's role as advocate, mentor and guide can optimize the individual's response to the transition process.

  • Writing the Visual in Baroni: un viaje and Other Recent Works by Sergio Chejfec

    Author:
    Margaret Carson
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Hispanic & Luso Brazilian Literatures & Languages
    Advisor:
    Magdalena Perkowska
    Abstract:

    This dissertation has three parts. First, I explore the ways in which word intersects with image in several recent texts by the contemporary Argentine writer Sergio Chejfec, whose oeuvre is replete with verbal descriptions of visual artifacts. Second, as a complement to the critical essay, I present my English translation of Chejfec's Baroni: un viaje (2007), a novel featuring the Venezuelan artist Rafaela Baroni, whose extraordinary wood carvings of Virgins, saints and other figures are described in key passages. Third, as a bridge between these two parts, I reflect on the related critical discourses of ekphrasis and translation and on the task of translating Baroni: un viaje. Chejfec's engagement with the visual as both an essayist and novelist has received little critical attention to date. In the first part of my study, I consider recent essays and blog postings in which he discusses the problematics of the word-image encounter, both in his own work and in that of others. I contend that Chejfec's privileging of the word and of the artifice of writing affirms W.J.T. Mitchell's concept of ekphrastic hope. By examining ekphrastic passages in Baroni: un viaje, I study the effects of the ekphrastic encounter in the novel and move beyond the notion that ekphrasis represents a spatial fix or halt in the narrative. In the second part, I offer my English translation of Baroni: un viaje. In the third part, I discuss the affinities between the critical discourses surrounding ekphrasis and translation. I conclude with a Translator's Note that posits that the cleft that splits one of Baroni's wooden carvings, described at the novel's outset, can be understood as a powerful trope for the gap separating word from image, and the original Spanish of the novel from my English translation. I argue that although translation implies rupture, one hopes for engagement with the other in the space such a translation opens.

  • Free Will and Consciousness: A Determinist Account of the Illusion of Free Will

    Author:
    Gregg Caruso
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Philosophy
    Advisor:
    Michael Levin
    Abstract:

    In recent decades, with advances in the behavioral, cognitive, and neurosciences, the idea that patterns of human behavior may ultimately be due to factors beyond our control has increasingly gained traction and renewed interest in the age old problem of free will. In this dissertation I examine both the traditional philosophical problems long associated with the question of free will, such as the relationship between determinism and free will, as well as recent experimental and theoretical work directly related to consciousness and human agency. I argue that our best scientific theories indeed have the consequence that factors beyond our control produce all of the actions we perform and that because of this we do not possess the kind of free will required for genuine or ultimate responsibility. I further argue that the strong and pervasive belief in free will, which I consider an illusion, can be accounted for through a careful analysis of our phenomenology and a proper theoretical understanding of consciousness. Indeed, the primary goal of this dissertation is to argue that our subjective feeling of freedom, as reflected in the first-person phenomenology of agentive experience, is an illusion created by certain aspects of our consciousness. After working to establish that free will is an illusion, I proceed to give a novel account of just how that illusion is created. I present my illusionist account using one leading theory of consciousness--the higher-order thought (or HOT) theory of consciousness as developed by David Rosenthal. I maintain that by combining the theoretical framework of the HOT theory with empirical findings in the behavioral, cognitive, and neurosciences, we can come to see that the illusion of free will is created by the particular way our higher-order thoughts make us conscious of our mental states and how our sense of self is constructed within consciousness.

  • Searching for Food (Justice): A qualitative case-study of the food environment and practices in a low-income micro-neighborhood in Long Island City, Queens, NY

    Author:
    Christine Caruso
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Gary Winkel
    Abstract:

    Abstract Searching for (Just) Food: A qualitative case study of the food environment in a low-income micro-neighborhood in Long Island City, NY by Christine Caruso Adviser: Professor Gary Winkel Problems of food access, food insecurity and hunger, are linked to numerous adverse health outcomes including increased rates of morbidity and mortality due to diet related diseases. In addition, these inequities highlight social justice problems, such as spatial segregation and neighborhood deprivation, within the larger food system. This project aims to explore the links between food systems, access, and food practices among low-income residents living in an underserved food environment in order to better understand the current barriers and struggles related to accessing healthy and desirable foods. This project focuses on the Queensbridge micro-neighborhood located within the larger neighborhood of Long Island City, in Queens, NY. Given the complexity of the issues surrounding the food system and the differential impacts on people across various socio-economic statuses the aims of this study include gaining a better understanding of the issues and processes involved among low-income community members related to the ways in which they source and consume food in the conventional and alternative food systems. The primary research questions informing this dissertation are: what are participants' perceptions of their food environment(s), particularly around the areas of quality, value, and taste of available products? What are the socio-cultural factors present in the micro-neighborhood that gets inscribed into the food environment, and how do these characteristics influence purchasing decisions? And, what is the level of awareness, attitudes toward and use of alternative food networks (AFNs) among community members? I will address these questions through conducting participant observation, in-depth interviews, and archival research with members of a community-based advocacy organization, as well as community members living in and around the Queensbridge micro-neighborhood, and staff members and volunteers of area community-based organizations. Findings in this dissertation focus on participants' perceptions and experience of the food environment in this community utilizing a food justice framework to interrogate the forms of race and class based differences that undergird residents' food practices.

  • Making Up the Difference: Ecuadorian Women Engaged in Direct Selling

    Author:
    Erynn Casanova
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Sociology
    Advisor:
    Mitchell Duneier
    Abstract:

    As economic globalization progresses, employment is becoming more flexible and informalized in many parts of the world. In some developing countries, direct sales (selling branded products from person to person) is an increasingly attractive type of work, especially for women. Direct sales organizations benefit from cultural norms and structural forces that steer women away from full-time jobs in the formal economy, and also from the material conditions that lead to women's need to earn an income. This study examines the work experiences and social worlds of women affiliated with Ecuador's most successful direct sales company, Yanbal, with a focus on the ways in which women make decisions about their work and construct their identities as working women and members of families. The meanings and consequences of the women's work are placed in the context of gender relations, regimes of physical appearance, employment options, and consumption. Employing a combination of qualitative methods (ethnography, content analysis, surveys), the study argues that people's reactions to direct sales as an income-generating activity both shape and are shaped by their gendered economic strategies, behaviors that represent a reconciling of cultural norms of gender and work with material conditions and pressing financial needs. The work addresses questions such as: whether direct selling is empowering for women; how Yanbal can achieve success in Ecuador's challenging economic climate; and how cultural and social norms regulating women's physical appearance are related to ideas about gender, social class, and work. The findings of this study underline the importance of examining a rapidly-expanding type of work, a formal-informal hybrid that appeals mainly to women and helps to promote the expansion of consumer capitalism around the world.

  • "A Bird's Life": Pragmatism in the Field of Twentieth-Century American Poetry

    Author:
    Kristen Case
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    English
    Advisor:
    Joan Richardson
    Abstract:

    "A BIRD'S LIFE": PRAGMATISM IN THE FIELD OF TWENTIETH-CENTURY AMERICAN POETRY by Kristen Case Adviser: Joan Richardson This work investigates how and where the seeds of American philosophical thought, in particular of that strain of American thinking known as pragmatism, take root in the diverse field of twentieth-century American poetry. In considering the work of Marianne Moore in relation to Ralph Waldo Emerson, Robert Frost in relation to Charles Sanders Peirce, William Carlos Williams in relation to John Dewey, Charles Olson in relation to Henry Thoreau, and Susan Howe in relation to William James, I have attempted to illuminate some of the far-flung resonances of pragmatist thinking with the work of very different American poets. I take my title from James' description of thought as "like a bird's life" composed of "an alternation of flights and perchings" (Principles 243). By following the flights of pragmatist thinking into the realm of poetry and poetics, I hope to trace a particular epistemology that emerges from diverse forms of American writing, one in which mind and world are understood as inseparable, and the human being is regarded as, in Thoreau's terms, "an inhabitant, or part and parcel of Nature" ("Walking" 149). One assumption of this work is that intellectual history is most accurately figured not as a line but as an organic growth, that intellectual problems and ways of approaching them are carried like seeds from one genre, one generation, one region to another. Central to my approach is the belief that the meaning of any given work of literature resides not in "the work itself" nor merely in the mind of its readers, but rather in the interaction between reader and text, and further, that this interaction, the complex relationship between a reader and a book, constitutes a legitimate object of inquiry. This extension of the notion of what constitutes the proper object of literary studies is derived from William James' radical empiricism, which insists that "the relations between things, conjunctive as well as disjunctive, are just as much matters of direct particular experience, neither more so nor less, than the things themselves" (Essays x).

  • Extremist Networks and Lethality: A mapping of violent white supremacist group networks and an investigation of the relationship between network location and ideologically motivated murder

    Author:
    David Caspi
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Criminal Justice
    Advisor:
    Joshua Freilich
    Abstract:

    Empirical evidence indicates that domestic extremists in the United States pose a greater risk to the American public than international terrorism (Carlson, 1995; Hewitt, 2003; Blewas, Griggs, and Potok, 2005; LaFree, Dugan, Fogg & Scott, 2006). This dissertation attempts to further our understanding of domestic extremists by employing Social Network Analysis (SNA) methodology to investigate the network of white supremacist groups associated with - via formal members - extreme ideologically motivated violence (homicides). SNA focuses on how actors (i.e. people, organizations) are linked in patterns of interaction and the meaning of those connections. The general hypothesis of SNA is that entities, like people or groups, are interdependent, and therefore more likely to network with those who share common interests, goals, belief systems, etc. Ultimately, choices are influenced by the company one keeps (Wassserman and Faust, 2006). The data for this study comes from the Extremist Crime Database (ECDB), created by Joshua Freilich of John Jay College and Steven Chermak of Michigan State University. The first objective of the study is to analyze and measure overall network structure (e.g. density, cohesion) as well as actor level characteristics (e.g. centrality, constraint) in an effort to ascertain which groups are most popular and/or important to the flow of information within the network. A second objective of this study is to determine, via regression analysis, whether certain actor level characteristics are significantly related to an increased threat of ideologically motivated homicide. If so, then a white supremacist group's role or location within the network may serve as a predictor of lethality. While SNA has been used to study international extremist networks (e.g. global jihadists), this research is novel in its approach to the study of domestic extremists and the threat they pose.

  • COMPUTATIONAL STUDIES OF REACTIVE OXYGEN AND SULFUR SPECIES

    Author:
    Álvaro Castillo
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Chemistry
    Advisor:
    ALEXANDER GREER
    Abstract:

    In this thesis, we summarized the use of computational chemistry methods to provide insight into the chemistry of reactive intermediates species like singlet oxygen, thiozone, radical and diradicals of mercapto-quinones, and benzyl alkynyl sulfides anions. The theoretical methods used included Density Functional Theory, and hybrid [Molecular Orbital:Molecular Orbital] methods and the Conductor-like Polarizable Continuum Model for condensed phase calculations. The first chapter deals with carbon nanotubes as a class of host cavities to encapsulate the unstable molecule thiozone (S3). We computed single-walled carbon nanotube (SWNT)-thiozone pairs. Nanotube diameter selectivity for isomerization of the C2v form of S3 to the D3h form proved to be elusive. 1,2,3-Thiozonide formation took place on the convex side of nanotubes of low tube radii, such as the armchair (4,4) and (5,5) SWNTs. The second chapter focused on singlet oxygen release from a naphthalene endoperoxide which bears a flexible (CH2)22 polymethylene "lid". Monte Carlo and ONIOM calculations that incorporated semiempirical and density functional theory were used in the study. Interestingly, the polymethylene chain appears to function as a gatekeeper for the oxygen, where, instead of coming full circle, a semi-circle rotation of the polymethylene bridge protected the peroxide group, limiting the dissociation of 1O2 from the naphthalene site. The third chapter deals with condensed-phase calculations of the reaction of aryl substituted benzyl 1-alkynyl sulfides with potassium t-methoxide in acetonitrile. This reaction produces 2-aryl 2,3-dihydrothiophene products. Experimental evidence (from our collaborators) indicates that there is a rapid exchange of protons and tautomerism of the alkynyl unit prior to cyclization to the dihydro-thiophenes. The fourth and last chapter is devoted to DFT calculations of quinones, radicals and diradicals. Calculations on these reactive species arising from mercapto- and bismercaptocatechols were conducted seeking to provide insight into their relative stability.