A Selection of Thesis Abstracts
Please click on a thesis title to view the abstract.
MCC MA Thesis Abstracts
"The World to Come Has Come, Is Theirs": Youth and the Future of the Classical Music Audience
This thesis seeks to address the issue, imagined and otherwise, of the graying of the classical music audience. Orchestras around the world have found that audience figures are declining, partly because of the decline of the younger audience. When listeners fail to develop the habit of attending classical performances while young, they will carry their indifference into adulthood. The classical music audience, then, is literally dying of old age. However, the rhetoric around this problem tends to ignore the spaces in which youth audiences do listen to classical music. In this thesis, I hope to through an analysis of critical theory address why the traditional live classical performance fails to interest the young consumer, touching on issues of class, education, and cultural construction as possible reasons for the music’s unpopularity. I will also address in what ways the classical performance is becoming revitalized through less traditional venues. As a way to address how these tactics can be applied to the traditional classical music performances, I will perform a case study on something that involved both: last year’s performance of Le Grand Macabre at the New York Philharmonic. Through this, I hope to see how uses of marketing, celebrity, cost, space, community, and genre can attract young adults for a lifetime appreciation of the live classical performance.
Cross-Cultural Communication within American and Chinese Colleagues in Multinational Organizations
As the world becomes interconnected and easily accessible with the advancement of technology, more and more companies now have the ability and interests to tap into foreign markets. Either by means of opening up local subsidiaries or outsourcing to another country, they are all inevitably involved in the interaction with an unfamiliar culture. One of the challenges that confronts them is the increasing diversity of the workforce and similarly complex prospective customers with disparate cultural backgrounds. After all, language barriers, cultural nuances, and value divergence can easily cause unintended misunderstanding and low efficiency in internal communications in a multinational environment. It leads to conflict among employees and profit loss in organizational productivity. Therefore, in international organizations, cross-cultural communication, also known as intercultural and trans-cultural communication, serves as a lubricant, which mitigates frictions, resolves conflicts, and improves overall work efficiency; likewise, it serves as coagulant, integrating the collective wisdom and strength, enhancing the collaboration of team work, and uniting multiple cultures together between race and ethnicity, which leads to a desirable virtuous circle of synergy effect. In the paper, I will identify three aspects of culture that constitute people’s understanding between each other in professional settings, namely, language and non-verbal codes; cultural values and beliefs; and cultural stereotypes and preconceptions. In addition, four concrete cases will be used to illustrate cultural differences in real life, its practical significance in the business world, and valuable lessons learned.
Flashing Lights: The Dysfunctional Female Celebrity in Tabloid Media and Paparazzi Photography
How is celebrity culture in the contemporary moment produced and consumed by current tabloid media and paparazzi practices? Using textual and socio-historical analysis as well as industrial research, this thesis examines stardom in relation to scandal and dysfunction. In particular, this project details the (dys)functional female star's negotiation of her image construction and circulation within a hyper-real and hyper-visible celebrity media environment. Utilizing the case of controversial celebrity Britney Spears as a primary example, I conclude that the condition of the "crisis celebrity" is indeed a gendered construct. Furthermore, the exposure of celebrity scandal and its accompanying narratives created by tabloid media and paparazzi photography is rooted in the desire to know the "truth" of the star predicated on the defilement of the glamorous. Therefore, the perceived dysfunctional behavior of female stars can be re-conceptualized as a method of star intervention and possible resistance in the image-making process producing multiple truths for the celebrity subject. Ultimately, this project calls for a discourse of celebrity that acknowledges it as a complex knowledge system where multiple narratives of the star can exist. Research on Spears in particular suggests that her fame is evidence of a postmodern stardom that transcends labels of truth and authenticity, her identity always in a state of flux based on the discursive spaces that seek to define her and her own navigation of identity in the tabloid media landscape.
How the Blogosphere Changed Political Discourse in Malaysia
This thesis examines the socio-political blogosphere in Malaysia, how it has been talked about, and how it has changed the political discourse in Malaysia. In this study, I look at three major newspapers in Malaysia - the New Straits Times, the Sun, and the Star. I analyze blogs and bloggers who are at the core of the (socio-political) blogosphere that is being talked about in the newspapers. The timeframe between 2007 and 2009 can be divided into three parts, i.e. before, during, and after the general elections of 2008. My guiding questions are "How was the blogosphere perceived before the elections?," "What role did it play during the elections?" and "How is the blogosphere seen after the elections?" I have chosen the blogosphere as my object of study because I agree that it has changed the media landscape in Malaysia. This in turn influenced Malaysian society's understanding of and relation to politics, and the citizen's right to participate in political discussion, to voice their opinion, and eventually foster democracy. In Malaysia's case, it is especially important because this country has two important roles: one as a leading economy in Southeast Asia, and secondly, as an example of an Islamic state that tolerates many religions and ethnicities in one country. Democracy and freedom of press is necessary to maintain these roles.
Inside the Augenblick: Digital Images, Metadata, and the Politics of Runtime
The act of seeing has undergone a stark change now that images are digital. It is imbued with a measurable power that can be capitalized upon as images circulate; in fact, it may appear as if these objects have been explicitly engineered for this purpose of circulation. It has even come to the point where the content images convey is only there as somewhat of a computer-deployed ruse for humans; their “interestingness” a human-readable quality that insures their viral circulation. The digital image is therefore an object that expresses how the objectives of various political, social, and economic actors converge around the aggressive acquisition of data, to be leveraged for their gain. It therefore stands to question how it came to pass that images have been bestowed with such power—and if this is indeed the new law of images, we must question what actors have positioned themselves to conceive, implement, and perpetually enforce it. Finally, we must question the repercussions of this new reality, and probe deeply into the foundation of this new law of images, to see if we have any leeway in either circumventing it, or using it to empower ourselves.
Little Big Planet as a Pedagogical Playground: A Curriculum of 21st Century Multiple Literacy
In agreement with most socioculturalist theorists, there is a dearth of youth informal learning research that examines social practices within their indigenous communities. Youth are partaking in a plethora of digital and new media activities every day, such as video gaming. Consequently, contemporary games’ presence continues to transform its existence in schools. In 2009, President Obama discussed his concern of American students’ world ranking, where he openly advocate commercial gaming in classrooms, primarily the Little Big Planet (LBP), to help increase STEM literacy (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). This study is timely considering the educational climate of America. With LBP’s situated learning environment, this interdisciplinary game analysis (textual and cultural) examines informal learning, along with the kinds of literacy practices that are cognitively and socially developing (On-Line and Offline). Legitimizing LBP as an authentic pedagogical playground, I draw correlations between LBP literacy practices and Partnership of 21st Century Skills framework, articulated by corresponding goals of 2009 New Jersey Core Curriculum Standards. Using an auto-ethnographic approach, this textual analysis examines the games’ aesthetics, architecture, and interactive objects as immersing and engaging enhancement tools. Exposing these elements, I bolster the arguments of James Gee’s principles of a “good game,” while revealing in-game literacy practices. Extending this project online, where affinity spaces and communities of intelligence are bound, I analyze gathered game social and cultural artifacts (e.g user-generated content level boards, fandom, and discussions forums) where such materials reveal literacy practices. Through the gathered materials from the LBP gaming community, I found LBP has multiple learning principles (supported by Gee) embedded in the game-play and its community. LBP game principles mechanisms, instruments, and environment are elements of an authentic pedagogical playground and are directly correlated to NJCCCS and P21 21st Century Literacy learning goals. There is evidence of a “constellation of literacies” due to its emancipatory environment for honing skills through identity formation and other content production activities. More so, the analysis expose the collective intelligence and collaboration existing within the affinity spaces, which negate most “participation gaps” existing in most real environments
Mainstreaming Utopia: Understanding and Addressing the User-Generated Content Technological Utopia
"I never realized democracy has so many possibilities, so much revolutionary potential. Media, information, knowledge, content, audience, author - all were going to be democratized by Web 2.0. The Internet would democratize Big Media, Big Business, Big Government." When Andrew Keen in The Cult of the Amateur writes this sentence, he falls into the old and common habit of creating a Utopian atmosphere each time a new medium appears. The printing press, radio, TV... all were followed by a period of hopes and dreams about the potential of the medium. The Internet has been taking the trend to another level. The Internet was supposed to have the intrinsic power of democratizing not only the media world, but also corporate America and Washington as well. The rise and success of user-generated content published online is the poster boy for this new kind of technological Utopia: users seem to be about to become the rulers. Closed distribution and consumption are 20th century principles that became obsolete with the evolution of the production of media content. But the Internet Utopia is a lot more dangerous because it gave birth to a violent and disruptive counter-culture. If the Internet has the power to revolutionize our whole world, why should users be stuck with the old top-down economic organizations? Why should users trust gatekeepers and middlemen anymore? How can media companies survive this cultural revolution? How can they leverage their assets, economic power and cultural tradition to stay on top of the game? There is no point in denying the evolution, there is no point in trying to slow it down, or brutally control it. Media companies need to embrace the changes, they need to work with it, they need to adapt to it, they need to rethink the whole industry value chain, and they need to drive the user-generated content movement in order to mainstream it. Because the end of top-down production does not have to mean the end of intermediaries, the end of the cultural gatekeepers does not mean the end of the middlemen and media leaders.
Measuring the Networked Public Sphere
This study employs a quantitative approach to the debate of the Internet as a public sphere by using a web crawler to discern the network of websites around a particular issue and analyze the linking patterns of network actors. I use blogs as a starting point, as they represent an easy and personal way to produce content on the Internet without the space and character limitations of other online media. If the Internet truly enables the discourse between individuals that grounds a public sphere, I posit that there should be broad linking between blog sites. If rich blog networks form around a particular issue—that is, if blogs are linking to other blogs—this may suggest the existence of conversations that facilitate a broad public discourse. Ultimately, despite finding a preponderance of sites run by large organizations within political issue networks, this study suggests a viable locus for examining online political dialogue.
Memory and the Spectacle: Phantom and Fantasy in a New Economy of the Image
Melissa De Witte
A new image economy of images is emerging. From pictures captured on mobile camera phones and closed circuit television; videos disseminated across social networks to interactive news websites and images published on blogs - are all indications of a new fetishized, optic engagement with visual media. As an emphasis for consuming and creating the visual expands, images are increasingly impacting the formation and distribution of the spectacle. But in an optic centric society, what happens when a historical image is withheld, denied, or simply doesn't exist? How do these new technologies shape and substitute the spectacle? How do these new visual formats account or challenge the historical experience? What version now gets remembered and told? Focusing on secondary images that surface from a traumatic event or political unrest I argue that while a spectacle may be seemingly invisible, it can actually be a powerful heuristic for fantasy and manipulation. Analyzing the substitute images from of the executions of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, the hanging of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and the suicide attacks in London on the 7th July 2005, I contrast state produced images against the visuals produced under new technologies of production and distribution. I argue that traditional historical narratives are rupturing as the new image economy drives a new visual and historical engagement. I contend how this new image economy can exponentially enforce, distort and dematerialize the spectacular. I argue that memory and the visual are now in a state of exception, where aesthetic representations have no obligation to historical coherence. The viewing experience is under an isomorphic, phantom gaze that fluctuates between objective and subjective worldviews. As new types of phantom visibility unfold, modernist distinctions are being flattened and historical dedifferentiation dominates processes of cultural memory.
Resisting the Gaze of an Ableist Visuality: The Performance of Stand-Up Comedy as Visual Activism
In this paper I will look at the work of visually activist stand-up comedians with physical disabilities and their efforts to disrupt the dominant narrative of an ableist visuality. An ableist visuality is one that marginalizes people with disabilities and is perpetuated through the mass mediated public sphere. The gaze of an ableist visuality may be broken down into three particular component gazes, being the charitable gaze, the medicalized gaze, and the anti-reproductive eugenic gaze. These particular institutionalized gazes are ultimately violent to people with disabilities and are perpetuated through mass media, yet they are being challenged and disrupted by visually activist comedians who are proposing an inverse or counter visuality as they subvert the gaze of their audience by staring back as an indictment of the oppressive ableist visuality. This paper will determine the borders of an ableist visuality and provide analysis of the ways in which visual activists are working to subvert this visuality through the medium of stand-up comedy.
Stories of Gender Roles and Armed Conflicts: A Look Into The Individual Life Stories of Women and Men in Mindanao, Philippines
Jennefer Lyn L. Bagaporo
Traditional gender roles are one of the ingredients in a patriarchal society. Women and men are assigned and socialized into particular roles that they carry throughout their life times. Butsocialization is a never-ending process. Therefore, gender roles, become dynamic too. As stressed in the symbolic interactionism and the standpoint theories, gender roles differ among class,culture, and race as it depends on the society where it exist. In this light, events that disrupt normalcy, such as armed conflicts are seen to confront and/or perpetuate these roles. This paper examines the individual life stories of selected women and men included in The World Bank 2005 study Moving Out of Poverty in the Philippines. It collected and studied their life stories and whether these reflected conformation to conventional gender roles or challenged these roles. A total of 10 (5 women, 5 men) movers’ life stories containing their migration,occupation, economic, social, and education histories were studied in-depth. Findings showed that the women and men in this study underwent an incessant tug-of-war of adhering to customary gender roles and confronting them in relation to their conditions at thetime the life stories were collected. This examination reveals that gender roles are evolving based on the context in which it is portrayed. Proposed research areas of expansion are also provided.
The Burn Book Incident at St. Thomas High: A Call for Internet Literacy Programs in Schools
In May 2007, school officials at St. Thomas, a public high school in Montreal, Quebec, discovered an online community on the social networking site Facebook, created by a group of about 200 students for the sole purpose of posting embarrassing remarks about their teachers. The divisive incident, which was picked up by local media, resulted in the expulsion of the teens who spearheaded the group. In support of improved Internet literacy programs in schools to the benefit of both educators and students, this research illustrates how a significant generation gap in youth and adult Internet knowledge can wreak havoc on a school environment and stifle learning; additionally, this project demonstrates how the traditional teacher-student power paradigm in the classroom is problematic in the digital age. These themes are explored via a textual analysis of the statements made by students, teachers, teacher's union representatives, newspaper editors, the general public, and school boa rd officials published in two local papers as the controversy unfolded. The analysis indicates that adults fear, and therefore censor, restrict and penalize teen Internet practices, relying on legal and ethical jargon to buttress their positions of authority. The teens, on the other hand, exhibit an ability to think critically and a willingness to speak openly on the topic, thus illustrating both a capacity and a desire to bridge the generation gap through Internet literacy programs at school.
Yes, I had Cosmetic Surgery": Celebrities' Cosmetic Surgery Confessions in the Media and their Impact on Korean Female College Students
This paper analyzes celebrities' cosmetic surgery confessions in the media and explores the impact of the confessions on non-celebrities. Based on the analysis of talk shows and online news in Korea today, I argue that celebrities' confessions are the result of the interaction between celebrities and the media, and the confessions serve as an atonement ritual to make a new start for celebrities themselves. The confessions also have the effect of trivializing cosmetic surgery. My analysis of Korean female college students' self-accounts about the confessions confirms these arguments and shows the students' strong endorsement of cosmetic surgery as well as their tendency to view cosmetic surgery as a means of upward mobility, given the success of surgical celebrities. The survey questionnaire developed for this study, completed by 217 female college students, reveals that more exposure to such confessions predicts greater normalization and trivialization of cosmetic surgery in the respondents' everyday lives.