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Crucified Christians, marked men, and wanted whites: victimhood and conservative counterpublicity

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This dissertation explores the rhetorical significance of persecution claims produced by demonstrably powerful publics in contemporary American culture. This ideological criticism is driven by several related research questions. First, how do members of apparently powerful groups (men, whites, and Christians)

This dissertation explores the rhetorical significance of persecution claims produced by demonstrably powerful publics in contemporary American culture. This ideological criticism is driven by several related research questions. First, how do members of apparently powerful groups (men, whites, and Christians) come to see themselves as somehow unjustly marginalized, persecuted, or powerless? Second, how are these discourses related to the public sphere and counterpublicity? I argue that, despite startling similarities, these texts studied here are best understood not as counterpublicity but as a strategy of containment available to hegemonic publics. Because these rhetorics of persecution often seek to forestall movements toward pluralism and restorative justice, the analysis forwarded in this dissertation offers important contributions to ongoing theoretical discussions in the fields of public sphere theory and critical cultural theory and practical advice for progressive political activism and critical pedagogy.

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2011

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Analyzing the dynamics of communication in online social networks

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This thesis deals with the analysis of interpersonal communication dynamics in online social networks and social media. Our central hypothesis is that communication dynamics between individuals manifest themselves via three key aspects: the information that is the content of communication,

This thesis deals with the analysis of interpersonal communication dynamics in online social networks and social media. Our central hypothesis is that communication dynamics between individuals manifest themselves via three key aspects: the information that is the content of communication, the social engagement i.e. the sociological framework emergent of the communication process, and the channel i.e. the media via which communication takes place. Communication dynamics have been of interest to researchers from multi-faceted domains over the past several decades. However, today we are faced with several modern capabilities encompassing a host of social media websites. These sites feature variegated interactional affordances, ranging from blogging, micro-blogging, sharing media elements as well as a rich set of social actions such as tagging, voting, commenting and so on. Consequently, these communication tools have begun to redefine the ways in which we exchange information, our modes of social engagement, and mechanisms of how the media characteristics impact our interactional behavior. The outcomes of this research are manifold. We present our contributions in three parts, corresponding to the three key organizing ideas. First, we have observed that user context is key to characterizing communication between a pair of individuals. However interestingly, the probability of future communication seems to be more sensitive to the context compared to the delay, which appears to be rather habitual. Further, we observe that diffusion of social actions in a network can be indicative of future information cascades; that might be attributed to social influence or homophily depending on the nature of the social action. Second, we have observed that different modes of social engagement lead to evolution of groups that have considerable predictive capability in characterizing external-world temporal occurrences, such as stock market dynamics as well as collective political sentiments. Finally, characterization of communication on rich media sites have shown that conversations that are deemed "interesting" appear to have consequential impact on the properties of the social network they are associated with: in terms of degree of participation of the individuals in future conversations, thematic diffusion as well as emergent cohesiveness in activity among the concerned participants in the network. Based on all these outcomes, we believe that this research can make significant contribution into a better understanding of how we communicate online and how it is redefining our collective sociological behavior.

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2011

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Voicing conditional forgiveness

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The current study is the first qualitative investigation aimed solely at understanding what it means to communicate conditional forgiveness in serious romantic relationships. Conditional forgiveness is forgiveness that has been offered with the stipulation that the errant behavior cease.

The current study is the first qualitative investigation aimed solely at understanding what it means to communicate conditional forgiveness in serious romantic relationships. Conditional forgiveness is forgiveness that has been offered with the stipulation that the errant behavior cease. It is a provocative topic because some argue genuine forgiveness is not conditional, but recent discoveries that have associated its use with severe transgressions and relational deterioration suggest it is a critical site for investigation. This inductive analysis of open-ended data from 201 anonymous surveys identified both distinctions between and intersections of conditional forgiveness, forgiveness, and reconciliation. A relational dialectics analysis also revealed that reconcilable-irreconcilable was the overarching tension for conditional forgivers and six additional tensions also were also discovered: individual identity-couple identity, safety-risk, certainty-uncertainty, mercy-justice, heart-mind, and expression-suppression. Of particular intrigue, the current analysis supports the previous discovery of implicit conditional forgiveness--suppressing conditions, sometimes in response to physical and substance abuse. Ultimately, the current analysis contributes to the enduring conversation aimed at understanding the communication and pursuit of forgiveness and reconciliation. It addresses one of the basic instincts and paradoxes of existing with others--the balance between vulnerability and protection.

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2011

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Telling your stories: designing an online email based storytelling group for older adults

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The aim of this study is to test the feasibility of building a storytelling system for older adults to tell and share their life stories based on email. It is measured by the level of participation and people's acceptance of

The aim of this study is to test the feasibility of building a storytelling system for older adults to tell and share their life stories based on email. It is measured by the level of participation and people's acceptance of the system. The central goals were to empower people over 60 years old by providing a platform for them to share their wonderful life experience and perspectives on life and lead social services into the digital age by bridging traditional roundtable interaction and modern digital communication. A prototype was built to test the level of participation of the system and follow-up interviews were conducted in order to deeply understand people's acceptance. Content analysis was used to analyze the stories to ascertain what common themes were present. Key design considerations and key factors that affect the feasibility of storytelling system were discussed. This research expands on current research and implementation of Internet-based storytelling system and shed light on the future of combining storytelling with older adults' existing Internet knowledge. Key findings of this research are :(1) Frequency of reminiscence trigger and the number of active participants affect the level of participation collectively. Frequency is considered to be a key determinant. High frequency indicates high level of participation. (2) Categories of topics do not affect the level of participation significantly but serve as key attractions that enhance people's acceptance of the system. (3) Older adults highly accept and get involved in the new email storytelling system. This storytelling program helps them recall their memories and have a profound effect on their own introspection.

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2014

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Mexican-origin circumstantial bilingual: the child, the parent, the advocate

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In order to adapt to a new culture and new language, children of immigrant families are faced daily with the responsibility of being the intermediaries between the family and the host culture through their language proficiency (Weisskirch & Alva, 2002).

In order to adapt to a new culture and new language, children of immigrant families are faced daily with the responsibility of being the intermediaries between the family and the host culture through their language proficiency (Weisskirch & Alva, 2002). This thesis looks into the experiences of English-Spanish bilingual children as they bridge the gap between the family and the non-Spanish speaking community through their interpreting/translating skills. With an emphasis on children of Mexican-origin, the goal is to further understand and illuminate how these children manage this communication in an adult society, their feelings and thoughts about their experiences, and the child's perceptions about the influence that this experience may or may not have on their future. A sample of seventeen children agreed to participate in a semi-structured face-to-face interview to share their experiences. The data from these interviews were analyzed using a thematic analysis approach (Braun & Clarke, 2006). A priori themes of circumstantial bilingual and adaptive parentification were the initial focus of the research while being open to emerging themes. The children's accounts of their experiences indicated primarily that the Mexican-origin values of familism and respeto (respect) were a significant influence on them when they interpreted/translated for their family. With these traditional cultural values and norms as the groundwork, the sub-themes of normalcy and stress emerged as supportive elements of the circumstantial bilingual experience. Furthermore, the theme of adaptive parentification and the sub-themes of choice, expectation/responsibility to assist, and equality to parents offered further insight on how adaptive parentification can result as the roles of these children change. There was an emergent theme, identity negotiation, which increases our understanding of what the circumstantial bilingual child encounters as the attempt is made to negotiate his identity as an individual who has to mediate language between two opposing cultures. Due to the language brokering responsibility that are bestowed upon these children, it is concluded that communicative support by the parents is a necessary component of the parent-child relationship in order to nurture and develop these children as they negotiate and create their identity to become the successful leaders of tomorrow.

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Date Created
2013

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Trickster dialogics: : a method for articulating cultural archetypes from 'Q' to performance art

Description

Simultaneously culture heroes and stumbling buffoons, Tricksters bring cultural tools to the people and make the world more habitable. There are common themes in these figures that remain fruitful for the advancement of culture, theory, and critical praxis. This dissertation

Simultaneously culture heroes and stumbling buffoons, Tricksters bring cultural tools to the people and make the world more habitable. There are common themes in these figures that remain fruitful for the advancement of culture, theory, and critical praxis. This dissertation develops a method for opening a dialogue with Trickster figures. It draws from established literature to present a newly conceived and more flexible Trickster archetype. This archetype is more than a collection of traits; it builds on itself processually to form a method for analysis. The critical Trickster archetype includes the fundamental act of crossing borders; the twin ontologies of ambiguity and liminality; the particular tactics of humor, duplicity, and shape shifting; and the overarching cultural roles of culture hero and stumbling buffoon. Running parallel to each archetypal element, though, are Trickster's overarching critical spirit of Quixotic utopianism and underlying telos of manipulating human relationships. The character 'Q' from Star Trek: The Next Generation is used to demonstrate the critical Trickster archetype. To be more useful for critical cultural studies, Trickster figures must also be connected to their socio-cultural and historical contexts. Thus, this dissertation offers a second set of analytics, a dialogical method that connects Tricksters to the worlds they make more habitable. This dialogical method, developed from the work of M. M. Bakhtin and others, consists of three analytical tools: utterance, intertextuality, and chronotope. Utterance bounds the text for analysis. Intertextuality connects the utterance, the text, to its context. Chronotope suggests particular spatio-temporal relationships that help reveal the cultural significance of a dialogical performance. Performance artists Andre Stitt, Ann Liv Young, and Steven Leyba are used to demonstrate the method of Trickster dialogics. A concluding discussion of Trickster's unique chronotope reveals its contributions to conceptions of utopia and futurity. This dissertation offers theoretical advancements about the significance and tactics of subversive communication practices. It offers a new and unique method for cultural and performative analyses that can be expanded into different kinds of dialogics. Trickster dialogics can also be used generatively to direct and guide the further development of performative praxis.

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2013

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Conveying controversial science: Sam Harris's "The Moral Landscape" and popular science communication

Description

The academic literature on science communication widely acknowledges a problem: science communication between experts and lay audiences is important, but it is not done well. General audience popular science books, however, carry a reputation for clear science communication and are

The academic literature on science communication widely acknowledges a problem: science communication between experts and lay audiences is important, but it is not done well. General audience popular science books, however, carry a reputation for clear science communication and are understudied in the academic literature. For this doctoral dissertation, I utilize Sam Harris's The Moral Landscape, a general audience science book on the particularly thorny topic of neuroscientific approaches to morality, as a case-study to explore the possibility of using general audience science books as models for science communication more broadly. I conduct a literary analysis of the text that delimits the scope of its project, its intended audience, and the domains of science to be communicated. I also identify seven literary aspects of the text: three positive aspects that facilitate clarity and four negative aspects that interfere with lay public engagement. I conclude that The Moral Landscape relies on an assumed knowledge base and intuitions of its audience that cannot reasonably be expected of lay audiences; therefore, it cannot properly be construed as popular science communication. It nevertheless contains normative lessons for the broader science project, both in literary aspects to be salvaged and literary aspects and concepts to consciously be avoided and combated. I note that The Moral Landscape's failings can also be taken as an indication that typical descriptions of science communication offer under-detailed taxonomies of both audiences for science communication and the varieties of science communication aimed at those audiences. Future directions of study include rethinking appropriate target audiences for science literacy projects and developing a more discriminating taxonomy of both science communication and lay publics.

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Date Created
2013

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Organizing compassionate communication: pragmatic fieldwork with nonprofits and homeless young adults

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In an effort to understand and improve interactions between homeless young adults and the nonprofit organizations that serve them, I engaged in a long-term, qualitative, participatory action project. My project involved input from homeless young adults, nonprofit organizations, volunteers/staff, and

In an effort to understand and improve interactions between homeless young adults and the nonprofit organizations that serve them, I engaged in a long-term, qualitative, participatory action project. My project involved input from homeless young adults, nonprofit organizations, volunteers/staff, and communication scholarship. While taking a community-engaged, participatory, and qualitative approach, I focused on the interactions between youth and the organizations. Particularly, I drew on homeless young adult experiences to inform services and illuminate compassion within the context of the nonprofit organizations. In the end, this project extends the individual model of compassion to include presence, identifies potential ruptures in the process of compassion, and models compassionate dynamics in organizations. It also articulates a method I call pragmatic fieldwork, a qualitative and pragmatic approach to participatory action research. Each of these outcomes speaks to varied community interests, from theoretically nuancing scholarly models of compassion to informing policy in the interest of more effectively and compassionately serving homeless youth.

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Date Created
2013

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The paracultural imaginary: cultural appropriation, heterophily and the diffusion of religious/spiritual traditions in intercultural communication

Description

Buddhism is thriving in US-America, attracting many converts with college and post-graduate degrees as well as selling all forms of popular culture. Yet little is known about the communication dynamics behind the diffusion of Buddhist religious/spiritual traditions into the United

Buddhism is thriving in US-America, attracting many converts with college and post-graduate degrees as well as selling all forms of popular culture. Yet little is known about the communication dynamics behind the diffusion of Buddhist religious/spiritual traditions into the United States. Religion is an underexplored area of intercultural communication studies (Nakayama & Halualani, 2010) and this study meets the lacuna in critical intercultural communication scholarship by investigating the communication practices of US-Americans adopting Asian Buddhist religious/spiritual traditions. Ethnographic observations were conducted at events where US-Americans gathered to learn about and practice Buddhist religious/spiritual traditions. In addition, interviews were conducted with US-Americans who were both learning and teaching Buddhism. The grounded theory method was used for data analysis. The findings of this study describe an emerging theory of the paracultural imaginary -- the space of imagining that one could be better than who one was today by taking on the cultural vestments of (an)Other. The embodied communication dynamics of intercultural exchange that take place when individuals adopt the rituals and philosophies of a foreign culture are described. In addition, a self-reflexive narrative of my struggle with the silence of witnessing the paracultural imaginary is weaved into the analysis. The findings from this study extend critical theorizing on cultural identity, performativity, and cultural appropriation in the diffusion of traditions between cultural groups. In addition, the study addresses the complexity of speaking out against the subtle prejudices in encountered in intercultural communication.

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2013

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On the heroic: courage, love, the greater good and the case of Leila Khaled

Description

Heroism is a phenomenon central to the development of Western Society. It is present at the core of understanding history, it is the basis for all literature, and exists in many forms in contemporary society, including the celebrity. As a

Heroism is a phenomenon central to the development of Western Society. It is present at the core of understanding history, it is the basis for all literature, and exists in many forms in contemporary society, including the celebrity. As a result of its pervasiveness, the philosophy by which heroism ought to be understood has been left out of its contemporary iterations. Through an investigation of a provocative real person, rather than a literary character, the being of the hero in the everydayness of life can be more readily understood. The character in question is Leila Khaled, provocative because she is a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and participated in two airplane hijackings. The general public understands her to be a terrorist; however, she is a hero among her own people and as a hero has much to teach. Through an inspection of her story, the hero presents itself as acting with courage and being motivated by love toward a greater good. Thus, an investigation of these phenomena - courage, love, and the greater good - will result in a better understanding of the hero that works toward the philosophic discussion about heroism that has been largely ignored over the last several hundred years.

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2012