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Getting to be seen: visibility as erasure in media economies of transgender youth

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There is currently a proliferation of images of transgender youth in popular discourse, many of which reflect the threat to capitalist heteronormativity that transgender young people pose to contemporary U.S. society. This veritable explosion in media visibility of transgender youth

There is currently a proliferation of images of transgender youth in popular discourse, many of which reflect the threat to capitalist heteronormativity that transgender young people pose to contemporary U.S. society. This veritable explosion in media visibility of transgender youth must be critically examined. This dissertation explores media economies of transgender youth visibility by examining media and self-represented narratives by and about transgender young people in contemporary U.S. popular discourse to uncover where, and how, certain young transgender bodies become endowed with value in the service of the neoliberal multicultural U.S. nation-state. As normative transgender youth become increasingly visible as signifiers of the progress of the tolerant U.S. nation, transgender youth who are positioned further from the intelligible field of U.S. citizenship are erased.

Utilizing frameworks from critical transgender studies, youth studies, and media studies, this project illustrates how value is distributed, and at the expense of whom this process of assigning value occurs, in media economies of transgender youth visibility. Discursive analyses of online self-representations, as well as of online representations of media narratives, facilitate this investigation into how transgender youth negotiate the terms of those narratives circulating about them in U.S. contemporary media. This project demonstrates that increases in visibility do not always translate into political power; at best, they distract from the need for political interventions for marginalized groups, and at worst, they erase those stories already far from view in popular discourse: of non-normative transgender youth who are already positioned outside the realm of intelligibility to a national body structured by a heteronormative binary gender system.

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2016

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Driven by affect to explore asteroids, the Moon, and science education

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Affect is a domain of psychology that includes attitudes, emotions, interests, and values. My own affect influenced the choice of topics for my dissertation. After examining asteroid interiors and the Moon’s thermal evolution, I discuss the role of affect in

Affect is a domain of psychology that includes attitudes, emotions, interests, and values. My own affect influenced the choice of topics for my dissertation. After examining asteroid interiors and the Moon’s thermal evolution, I discuss the role of affect in online science education. I begin with asteroids, which are collections of smaller objects held together by gravity and possibly cohesion. These “rubble-pile” objects may experience the Brazil Nut Effect (BNE). When a collection of particles of similar densities, but of different sizes, is shaken, smaller particles will move parallel to the local gravity vector while larger objects will do the opposite. Thus, when asteroids are shaken by impacts, they may experience the BNE as possibly evidenced by large boulders seen on their surfaces. I found while the BNE is plausible on asteroids, it is confined to only the outer layers. The Moon, which formed with a Lunar Magma Ocean (LMO), is the next topic of this work. The LMO is due to the Moon forming rapidly after a giant impact between the proto-Earth and another planetary body. The first 80% of the LMO solidified rapidly at which point a floatation crust formed and slowed solidification of the remaining LMO. Impact bombardment during this cooling process, while an important component, has not been studied in detail. Impacts considered here are from debris generated during the formation of the Moon. I developed a thermal model that incorporates impacts and find that impacts may have either expedited or delayed LMO solidification. Finally, I return to affect to consider the differences in attitudes towards science between students enrolled in fully-online degree programs and those enrolled in traditional, in-person degree programs. I analyzed pre- and post-course survey data from the online astrobiology course Habitable Worlds. Unlike their traditional program counterparts, students enrolled in online programs started the course with better attitudes towards science and also further changed towards more positive attitudes during the course. Along with important conclusions in three research fields, this work aims to demonstrate the importance of affect in both scientific research and science education.

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2017