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Collection of student theses and dissertations from as early as 1963, but mainly from 2010 to present.

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"A world where they belonged": Queer women's use of a Dungeons & Dragons game to experiment with, express, and explore identity
With the renewed interest in tabletop roleplaying games (TRPGs) worldwide, communication scholars are offered an unprecedentedly rich site to conduct observation and research of communication phenomena. Being a game played through an extended series of performative utterances, researchers are able to observe the expression, experimentation, and exploration of identities as a negotiated process among players. Of particular interest are the expression of identities that may be marginalized and thus closeted by bearers. For TRPG players with stigmatized identities, the game serves as a back-channel function for enacting these identity performances. This study found that players used the game to experiment with, express, and explore through a confluence of validating communication to facilitate authentic or sincere play. As a result, players more fully immersed themselves in the narrative experience which was used to integrate underdeveloped facets of identity into their primary identity. These findings support the forwarding of theoretical and material contributions that communication scholars can find by studying TRPG spaces, particularly those used by people with marginalized identities. Keywords: virtual worlds, narrative, theory, LGBTQIA+, Dungeons & Dragons, San Diego State University
"All the girls are white, all the Blacks are male": Experiences of young Black women on the East Coast
Previous scholarship has found that African American adolescent girls and young women experience isolation, exclusion in the classroom and are assumed to be "deviant" in some research. Such research on Black girls does not include a Black cultural perspective. Nevertheless, Black young women develop methods of resilience throughout their girlhood to overcome these challenges often using these methods into adulthood. Through semistructured interviews and participant observation of four African American teenagers, this qualitative study investigated participants' lives in an urban community center ("Bridges") on the East Coast of the United States. Employing the use of grounded theory, the study found four themes. The first theme was that education was important and central to all participants. The young women found teachers' accessibility, expectations, and curricula to influence their experiences in the classroom. An appreciation of gender-specific programming was the second theme. The programming helped develop self esteem, positive relationships, and community involvement. A key to this programming was the racial makeup of staff at Bridges, in which Black women were the majority. Third, all participants discussed sexual harassment in their schools, neighborhoods and communities, and emphasized the importance of educating younger peers about topics important in their community including sexual harassment. Finally, all four participants were applying to and getting accepted by colleges. Implications of these themes for the lives of young African American girls are discussed.
"All this has happened before, and all of it will happen again": Reproduction, race, and violence in Battlestar Galactica
Includes bibliographical references (p. 86-95), This thesis explores the ways in which Battlestar Galactica (2004-2009), a contemporary science fiction television series written in a postfeminist culture, both subverts and reinforces hegemonic power dynamics. Through a critical examination of classic science fiction conventions, one will see how the series becomes a commentary on reproduction, race, and violence. Furthermore the series' discourse on gender and nationalism, race and racialization, and women and violence offers compelling insight into debates over reproductive justice in the U.S. in the 21st century. This analysis of primary source research focuses on the reimagined series in its entirety spanning from the 2003 NBC miniseries, 2004-2009 SyFy television series, and supplementary films and webisodes. As a show that presents itself as feminist, this work gauges responses to the series by self-defined feminist members of feminist fan communities through their participation in blogs where they have written articles on the series and responses to those articles through forums on the blogs themselves. Overall, the series and its fans provide a glimpse of current political and social ideologies reflecting the changing national landscape of the United States.
"But some of us are [still] brave": The experiences of Black women engaging in graduate women's studies
The purpose of this exploratory qualitative thesis is to give voice to five Black women engaged in graduate women's studies. This thesis broadens our understanding of the lived experiences of Black women engaging in graduate women's studies. Using qualitative in-depth feminist interviewing, this study focuses on (a) determining how Black women engaging in women's studies perceive their graduate school experiences; (b) ascertaining what challenges Black women engaging in women's studies face in graduate school; and (c) identifying what strategies Black women engaging in women's studies employ to negotiate their graduate school experiences. In this thesis, I draw upon Black feminist thought and critical race theory to analyze my in-depth interviews of five Black women graduate students. The research participant narratives and analysis of the data resulted in the emergence of the following prominent themes: (a) tokenization; (b) turmoil while teaching; (c) conceptualization of women's studies as an "intellectual space"; (d) critiques of the coursework, subjugation of scholarship, and departmental dilemmas; (e) seeking support: mentoring, advising, and community building; and (f) academic survival strategies. Research participants were often negatively racialized and gendered throughout their graduate experiences. This thesis is organized into five chapters. Chapter 1 introduces my qualitative research study. I place my research within the historical context of the feminist movement and the progression of women's studies as in an academic discipline. Then, I situate myself as a Black feminist researcher studying Black women. Chapter 2: Review of the Literature presents a critical analysis of related research on Black women graduate students, Black male graduate students and other graduate students of color. My research primarily demonstrates that Black women graduate students experience tokenism, classroom conflict, discomfort with exclusionary curriculum, subordination of their research, and insufficient mentoring. Thus, my research findings were confirmed by the extant literature. Then, Chapter 3: Methods and Methodologies explores the methodological techniques used to carry out this study including in-depth feminist interviewing and employment of feminist methodologies, Black feminist thought, and critical race theory and methodology. Chapter 4: Results and Discussion presents the study results and a thematic analysis informed by Black feminist thought and critical race theory. In the final chapter, Chapter 5: Conclusion I close with a summary of my research findings, implications for women's studies, research limitations, areas for future research, recommendations, and my personal reflections on the research process., San Diego State University
"Comrades in the struggle": A qualitative exploration into the lives of men who participate in LGBTQ activism programs
Includes bibliographical references (p. 41-46), In this thesis, I examine the reasons why heterosexual men participate in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) activism as well as discover their daily experiences being activists. I looked at gender, sexuality, and activism literature to frame my research question: "What is it like being a heterosexual man who participates in LBGTQ activism?" In this qualitative thesis I focused on interviews with nine self-identified heterosexual men and found three overarching themes between these men's tales of their activism. The themes are: (1) motivations for participating in activism, (2) the daily experiences of men who are allies, and (3) advice to future allies. By attending to the perspective of these men who participate in LGBTQ activism, not only did I gain an understanding of why men participate in activism but we also understand how sexuality and gender are related to involvement in such LGBTQ activism programs
"Do you feel like a woman or do you feel like a drag queen" A queer linguistic analysis of drag queen speech
In this thesis I argue for a flexible conceptualization of semantics, using the negotiation of the meaning of gendered words in drag queen speech on RuPaul’s Drag Race as a case study. I begin with a critique of the formal semantics approach to word meaning. I then provide a summary of semantic theories which view word meanings and categories as flexible and negotiable, followed by a discussion of how those theories fit into a queer lens. I then apply those theories to drag queen speech. I argue that the drag queen community, while using gendered words in a way that violates the rules of Standard American English (SAE), does not follow a different set of rules for linguistic gender. Rather, the differences can be attributed to the social context of the utterances, whose semantics are negotiated in situ, suggesting that the meaning of gendered words are context-dependent rather than based on necessary and sufficient conditions. I argue that drag queen speech adds to a non-normative meaning of gender. Finally, language attitudes of participants on RuPaul’s Drag Race demonstrate that although drag performance and linguistic drag is subversive to an extent, individual drag queen attitudes about gender may lie within the normative gender binary. However, for at least some drag queens, gender fluidity is essential to their expressed gender attitudes. Regardless of individual gender and language attitudes, the flexibility of linguistic gender in drag queen speech has important implications for theories of semantic meaning.
"Ecological moderators of the relation between neighborhood safety and physical activity"
Objective: Targeting neighborhood characteristics (e.g., pedestrian infrastructure) is a promising mechanism to increase physical activity (PA). However, the association with neighborhood safety and PA is unclear. An ecological approach, which considers multiple levels of influence, may help clarify the association. The current dissertation bridged the PA and injury prevention fields by assessing multilevel moderators of the association between neighborhood safety and PA. Methods: The three samples were overweight/obese adults from San Diego, CA (Study 1, n=298), adolescents from Seattle, WA and Baltimore, MD (Study 2, n=878) and older adults from Seattle, WA (Study 3, n=367). The PA outcomes were self-reported active transport and leisure-time PA, and objective moderate-to-vigorous PA (MVPA). Study 1 assessed perceived neighborhood safety (e.g., safety from crime, pedestrian safety). Studies 2 and 3 assessed objectively-measured pedestrian streetscape safety. Moderators were from individual/demographic, psychosocial, home and neighborhood environment levels. Results: Fifteen of the 17 significant (p<.10) moderators found across studies were from individual/demographic or psychosocial levels. Though some moderators were shared across outcomes within the same study (e.g., sex and BMI in Study 1 or barriers in Study 2), race/ethnicity was the only significant moderator across studies (Studies 1 & 2). White non-Hispanic participants benefitted most in safe vs. unsafe neighborhoods, but there were few benefits among minorities. In Studies 2 & 3, the utility of the new objective streetscape safety measure was demonstrated. It was significantly positively associated with neighborhood-based PA among older adults, but negatively associated among adolescents. Conclusion: The association of neighborhood safety with PA was complex and varied by subgroup. The findings demonstrate the utility of an ecological approach to better understand PA, particularly exploring cross-level interactions. Both perceived and objectively-assessed neighborhood safety had subgroup-specific effects, suggesting each age-group should be targeted separately (e.g., targeting pedestrian safety for older adults). More research is needed that incorporates objectively-assessed pedestrian safety, and interventions should tailor based on individual/demographic and psychosocial characteristics. Interventions can modify safety-related streetscape characteristics to reduce or eliminate traffic-related fatalities and injuries among pedestrians, and may have a dual benefit of facilitating greater physical activity in neighborhoods.
"Guttural German": Herbert Marcuse, the media, and student radicalism in San Diego during the 1960s
Many university campuses in the United States experienced increased levels of unrest during the 1960s. San Diego universities also contributed to facets of student rebellion nationally and globally. Arguably, no one figure became such a polarizing and inspiring icon of the 1960s as UCSD’s Professor Herbert Marcuse. Guttural German seeks to uncover the roots of Marcuse’s controversial dismissal from UCSD while exploring the factors motivating his most vocal critics. Guttural German utilizes secondary source material that contextualizes the detractors of Marcuse and traces their history of opposition towards contrarian thought in the region. Additionally, Guttural German relies heavily primary sources from The San Diego Union, as well as archival material originating from SDSU Library Special Collections, letters and transcripts from (Dean of San Diego Journalism) Harold Keen’s collected papers; and documents from the Gwartney American Legion and Anti-Communism Collection at SDSU. While much has been written regarding Marcuse’s time in San Diego and his reluctant role as father of the “new left,” what makes Guttural German unique is its focus on the media’s function in the Marcuse controversy. Marcuse’s dual structuralist approach of synthesizing the work of Sigmund Freud and Karl Marx is used to respond to his critics, who it is argued held merely a vulgar or cursory grasp of Marcuse’s complex ideas.
"Have a drink, you'll feel better." Predictors of daily alcohol consumption among extraverts: The mediational role of coping
Historically, college students have been shown to consume more alcohol relative to similar age groups who do not attend college. A recent estimate indicates that the average number of alcoholic drinks consumed per week by undergraduates is around five standard drinks. This predisposes undergraduate heavy drinkers to a myriad of negative outcomes including academic, social, physical, and psychological problems. Many studies have attempted to identify personality types which may be predisposed to subsequent alcohol use, however, others have largely abandoned this quest for an "alcoholic personality" and have adopted more complicated approaches by linking personality measures with intrinsic motivations to drink, and drinking as a response to stress (i.e., coping). To date, a vast majority of research in these domains have focused primarily on the personality dimension of neuroticism, while a paucity of literature exists measuring extraversion specifically, and literature that does exist has yielded varying results. The present thesis focused on how undergraduates, specifically extraverts, cope with stress on a daily level and how those coping strategies may leave them predisposed to subsequent alcohol use. Using a daily diary approach, this study tested the applicability of the differential coping choice model in a sample of undergraduate college students, with the goal of testing mediational pathways from extraversion and coping (problem-focused and social support) predicting alcohol consumption. Three hundred sixty six participants completed an Internet-based diary page once a day for five consecutive days and among other measures, reported their daily stress level, coping strategies utilized, and how much they drank. Results confirmed initial hypotheses that at the individual level, higher scores on the extraversion scale were associated with higher levels of drinks being consumed per day. At the daily level, increased use of daily problem-focused coping strategies were associated with fewer drinks being consumed per day while increased use of daily social support coping was marginally predictive of higher levels of drinks being consumed per day. These results suggest the relationship between extraversion and alcohol consumption to be at least partially mediated by these two coping strategies.
"His ghostly solitude": Terror management theory and the thought and art of W. B. Yeats
Contemporary criticism of William Butler Yeats overwhelmingly takes ethical or historicist approaches. This thesis turns instead to an existential-psychodynamic approach based on the framework of Terror Management Theory, a social psychology research paradigm closely associated with the writings of cultural anthropologist Ernest Becker, whose canon proposes that death anxiety is a unique and major defining feature of the human condition. The work of Harold Bloom is argued to be founded on similar theoretical grounds as Terror Management Theory, particularly in a recognition of Søren Kierkegaard’s prioritization of the existential dilemma and Sigmund Freud’s rearguard displacement of it into his sexual theory. Terror Management Theory and Harold Bloom are read in parallel to create a psychohistorical argument about human culture and English Romantic poetry. Yeats’s thought and art are then interpreted through this lens. Early, formative disruptions in Yeats’s cultivation of stable self-esteem and a coherent worldview result in his realization of the significance of death anxiety, prompting ongoing psychological disruptions across his lifespan. This leads Yeats to develop an art based on vacillation between themes, choices, and spiritual states that mimics the experience of continual psychological disruption. Spotlighting his efforts to construct aesthetics of vacillation and immediacy, this project also argues that Yeats’s lifelong obsessive attempts to intellectually escape time and history arise from an almost ever-present awareness of death’s necessity., San Diego State University
"How has the security landscape changed in the last ten years with the rise of social media influencers"
Social media and technology are pivotal aspects of society and allow for accessibility to the world from behind a screen. Within the last ten years, communication online has dramatically grown, thus resulting in the creation of influencer culture on social media. As the development of technology surrounding influencer culture and social media exponentially increased, it has left security measures and online safety harder to control. The dangers that influencers face and have been persistent throughout time are physical threats, cyber threats, and mental health issues. When comparing fame between influencers and celebrities, influencers are viewed as more accessible to the public despite both categories having a large following. This has prompted 76% of major brands to dedicate a portion of their marketing budget to influencers; ultimately, pushing more individuals to attempt to become an influencer. In fact, in a recent study it was found that about 86% of individuals between the ages of 13-38 were open to becoming social media influencers. With easier accessibility to fame, the less cautious individuals are more likely to release personal information. This leaves influencers vulnerable to threats both physically and virtually. Thus, in analyzing influencer culture alongside real life examples throughout the past decade, this thesis will aim to highlight the gap that exists between social media influencers and security., San Diego State University

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