College of Humanities and Social Sciences

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This collection contains ETD documents from the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.


Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 20 of 1557
  • Publication
    Surviving NIBRS: Restoring America’s Unreported Homicides and Exploring the Influences for Law Enforcement’s Declining Cooperation in Crime Reporting
    (2023-11-30) Hargrove, Thomas Kirk; Dong, Beidi
    FBI adoption of the National Incident Based Reporting System (NIBRS) in 2021 as the mandatory reporting standard for crime data resulted in an unprecedented decline in police reporting to the federal government. Only 57 percent of the nation’s homicides were reported that year. This study obtained more than 6,000 unreported homicides from local and state police agencies using Freedom of Information Act and Open Record Act requests. The study compares FBI data and the study’s augmented dataset for accuracy and completeness using the National Vital Statistics System as a reference. This study also used a 3,134-county regression analysis to explore the socioeconomic factors associated with police decisions to participate, or to decline participation, in the more complex NIBRS program.
  • Publication
    The Krewe de Jeanne d’Arc and the New Orleans Joan of Arc Parade
    (2022-12-02) Van Wey, Ken; Lattanzi Shutika, Debra
    The Joan of Arc Parade, an annual marching event in the French Quarter of New Orleans, marks the passage from Christmas into Carnival. Begun in 2008, the parade contimues many New Orleans Carnival traditions and group structures while reflecting modern political and social attitudes. This paper draws on academic research, interviews, and participant observation to explore the evolving role of this parade and its organizers, the Krewe de Jeanne d’Arc, in New Orleans Carnival celebrations.
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    Disrespectful Female: The Problem with Calling Women Females
    (2023-12) Lear, Jordan; Craig, Richard
    The work done in this paper seeks to critically look at the usage of the word “female” as a replacement word for “woman” in a way that points out the inherent disrespect that is ingrained into the usage of that word. Utilizing Critical Discourse Analysis influenced by feminist theory, queer theory, and critical race theory frameworks, I hope to better understand how and why the word “female” has come to denote such disrespect while doing so in a more covert fashion than typical insults tend to do.
  • Publication
    Socio-Cultural Significance of Stuffed Animals in Washington D.C. Metropolitan Area
    (2001-05) Needham, Cat L.; Scimecca, Joseph
    This thesis describes the significance of stuffed animals as derived from relevant areas of the socio-cultural landscape from three studies conducted in Fairfax, Virginia—one participant observational study, one non-participant-observational study and one qualitative/interview study. The three studies' results are to compare them to those derived from an examination of the "larger" picture (mass media, advertising, etc.) and determine what, if any, similarities and/or differences exist between them. A conclusion follows which summarizes and decisively identifies what significance stuffed animals have within the socio-cultural landscape of the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan area.
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    "A Great Uneasiness in Our County": Slavery and Its Influence on Family and Community Stability in Northern Virginia, 1782-1860
    Huerta, Sheri A.; Censer, Jane T.
    Adopting a comparative approach, this dissertation examines the dynamics of control, resistance, and adaptation to enslavement along the borderlands of the enslaved South in northern Virginia from 1782 to 1860. The focus on three contiguous counties, Fauquier, Loudoun, and Prince William shows that despite similar political and cultural influences and location, each county developed subtle, yet distinct differences in patterns of slave ownership, flexibility towards emancipation, periods of enslaved resistance, and methods of enforcing racial control. This study investigates these local differences, their effect on the stability of enslaved families and how perceived threats to masterly control shaped community reactions. Because of its position upon the fringes of the slave South and in proximity to avenues of escape, northern Virginia presents a compelling location for study of the role of enslaved families and communities on slave societies. This dissertation exposes sources of tension through a close reading of county records such as deeds, wills, patrol accounts, tax records, and criminal case files combined with state documents, legislative petitions, church minutes, private correspondence, Freedmen's Bureau records, newspaper accounts and runaway advertisements. Major questions reveal the particular dynamics of each county's slave society through three main themes of identity, resistance, and perceptions of control. First, how did each county maintain an identity as a slave society in proximity to free states and anti-slavery rhetoric and amidst demographic changes and economic stresses? Second, how did these changes and stresses affect enslaved family stability and lead to acts of resistance? Third, how did communities, churches, and local courts support the rights of masters to hold slaves and how did enslaved persons manipulate these local powers to assert limited control over their lives and paths to freedom? A confluence of factors created distinct periods of unrest in each county: These arose when enslaved resistance challenged visions of masterly control; when the number of runaways and escape strategies changed; when slave values rose and fell; when options for emancipation crested and diminished; when abolitionist influences seemed to threaten community solidarity; and when public fears that enslaved resistance represented a wide-spread movement against slaveholders rather than singular transgressions. Even within a relatively small geographic space of the slave South, the particular location and community composition diversely affected the nature of enslavement. County-wide differences in the level of tolerance shown for manumissions and towards manumitted slaves threatened enslaved family stability. Similarly the decisions of some slaveholders to limit their slaveholdings through slave sales or to seek better opportunities through western migration dismembered enslaved families. Acts of resistance often coincided with these periods of intense enslaved family disruptions or preceded such anticipated crises such as a master's death. Runaways coordinated escapes with work schedules or seasonal (and predictable) movements of people that varied by and within each county. When enslaved families felt most threatened and options for freedom seemed most limited, violent resistance erupted in slaveholding communities. These acts of resistance combined with fears of abolitionist influences threatened the security of slaveholders; local communities then ordered out patrols or created extralegal groups for policing. Tolerance for manumission, frequency of runaways, fluctuating values of enslaved bodies, and acts of violent resistance not only altered the way that slaveholders perceived the importance of enslaved chattel to personal wealth and community control but also determined how enslaved families recognized and responded to threats to stability and actively resisted forced separation. By tracking these changes over time a more complete picture develops of when, why, and how enslaved persons challenged their subordinate status and when the public perception of these acts of resistance shifted from uneasy fears to wide-spread threats that seemed to require community action. Discerning the ability of enslaved persons to make even small improvements in their lives in slavery rests firmly at the core of this study through understanding how they cultivated beneficial networks of support and influence, sought out resources to mitigate the deprivations of enslavement, and forged alliances that generated income and local support for self-purchase. Considering these acts of self-affirmation not only in relation to broader changes across the slave South, but more importantly within their context as a borderlands underlines the importance of place in creating subtle, yet telling differences in the stability of a slave society and thus challenges sectional, regional, or even state-wide generalizations of such societies' uniform identity.
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    Barely Visible Inner Constructions
    Keeney, Katherine; Streckfus, Peter
    This thesis is a culmination of the work I have done in my three years of this program. The first section is a complete chapbook, titled Barely Visible Inner Constructions. This book is an exploration of desire and the body, specifically through the lens of luxury industries and my relationship with my mother, who introduced me to the world of fashion. Many of the poems utilize the sapphic stanza in order to frame the desire present as something more closely tied to queerness and femininity. Others use a dropped line form that I began as a take off on the sapphic stanza, using what would have been the shorter, 5 syllable line in the original as a moment for a clearer interiority and image. Section two is a collection of poems more pointedly about desire. The final section collects many of my poems that are in conversation with other art, especially film.
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    Does Preschool Executive Function Predict Social, Health and Behavioral Outcomes? A Meta-Analysis
    Stucke, Nicole J; Doebel, Sabine
    Executive function is a widely studied psychological construct proposed to play a key role in healthy development and success in life. In children, executive function is often measured using particular behavioral laboratory tasks. Performance on these tasks robustly correlates with academic-related outcomes, yet they have also been claimed to predict a variety of outcomes outside the classroom, such as social skills, externalizing behaviors, and physical health. The evidence for these latter claims is less clear. Here, I report a meta-analysis testing the relation between executive function measured in preschool, and social, health, and behavioral outcomes measured concurrently and in later childhood and adolescence. Findings from 20 meta-analyses are reported. There were 853 usable effect sizes across the 115 included studies. A total of 104,827 children (m age = 55.62 months, SD = 6.07 months; 48.75% female) were included. For concurrent social outcomes, preschool executive function was positively related to social competence, prosociality, peer acceptance, and emotion understanding and regulation. Effect magnitudes (expressed as r) ranged between 0.10 and 0.28, indicating small effects. For concurrent health outcomes, preschool executive function was negatively related to body mass indices (r = -0.15) but was not related to physical fitness. For concurrent behavioral outcomes, executive function was related to externalizing problems, lie understanding, adaptive classroom behaviors, and attention and hyperactivity symptoms, but not internalizing problems (rs between -0.04 to 0.25). Longitudinally, executive function was related to social competence, peer acceptance, adaptive classroom behaviors, externalizing problems, and attention and hyperactivity symptoms, but not prosociality, emotion understanding, or internalizing problems. Considering that few studies controlled for known covariates (e.g., verbal skills, age), we urge caution in interpreting these significant findings as support for the importance of executive function in social, health, and behavioral development over the lifespan. Future research can further explore these patterns to better understand the role of executive function in adaptive human functioning.
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    The Brightening and the Darkening
    Siebel, Elizabeth; Brkic, Courtney
    This thesis is a collection of short stories crafted to help readers escape the real world for a little while.
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    Big Fun
    Park, Jihoon; James, Tania
    This thesis comprises roughly the first half of the in-progress novel Big Fun. It is told from two perspectives: Minji Choi, a university drop-out hikikomori, and Simon Koo, a recently fired philosophy professor. When Simon loses his wife’s cherished beagle, he steals Minji’s beagle, thinking it is the same dog. Before Simon can return the dog to Minji, it is kidnapped by his former students who hold the dog for ransom. Not wanting to be found out about kidnapping the dog in the first place, Simon secretly passes the ransom notes along to Minji. As Minji struggles to overcome her depression and find her dog, and as Simon struggles to save his marriage and recover professionally, one unlikely event after another brings their paths together into a big mess.
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    The Monument
    Johnson, Timothy; James, Tania
    This thesis is an excerpt of a novel in progress titled The Monument. The central narrative follows three characters on a quest for sanctuary at the southern border in a post-collapse United States. As these characters make their way across a hostile, unforgiving landscape, they must be wary of other Americans and ever vigilant of a species of dangerous creatures that has emerged from beneath the earth. They also must contend with tensions between each other because necessity and desperation have forced this trio of incompatibles together. Along the way, their group grows as they explore the nature of cruelty and kindness and they encounter horrors that seem both nascent consequence of circumstances and fundamentally American. In the process of researching this thesis, with the generous support of the Alan Cheuse International Writers Center, the author traveled the route these characters take. The author intends this thesis to become a novel, which he hopes to publish in the near future.
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    Beneath Our Feet, beyond the Grave
    Ganus, Amanda; Denevi, Timothy
    This thesis is an exploration of cemeteries across the United States in the form of short essays that are hybrid personal, cultural, and historical. The project ranges from the burial grounds of family members to the gravesites of architects in Chicago to Arlington National Cemetery and the 9/11 Memorial Museum. Through the lens of each of these places, an attempt at the greater understanding of memory, grief, loss, and what it all means is brought through the eyes of the author.
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    Bridging the Gap: Rhetoric of Telecommunications Compliance Policies
    Moorman, Tamara; Ranade, Nupoor
    As the telecommunications industry expanded and grew since the invention of the telephone, the U.S. Congress has passed several privacy laws to protect consumer’s personally identifiable information that telecommunications providers collect during the regular course of their business, but they have also passed several laws and regulations that require compliance with legally requested live and stored personally identifiable information from law enforcement. Telecommunications providers struggle with communicating their legally required compliance with law enforcement requests while also communicating their measures to protect their customers’ privacy and personally identifiable information. To evaluate the balance between these two conflicting requirements, this study analyzes the rhetoric of telecommunications providers’ legal compliance policies and discusses the convoluted and often misleading language used to explain these compliance policies to their customers.
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    The Operational Pains of Carceral Confinement: Prison Staff as Front-Line Arbiters of Punishment
    Kushmerick-McCune, Bryce C; Norris, Robert
    Prisons are notoriously painful places that cause a great deal of harm to incarcerated people (Sykes, 1958). They are often dirty, dehumanizing, and can pose serious risks to both mental and physical health (Brinkley-Rubinstein, 2013; Caravaca-Sanchez et al., 2022; Crewe, 2011). Existing literature considers not only people’s actual carceral experiences, but also how these experiences translate into perceptions of punishment. This research suggests that staff play a large role in shaping the confinement experience but does not adequately consider how staff actions contribute to people’s perceptions of punishment. Using the penal consciousness framework proposed by Sexton (2015), this thesis explores how staff influence people’s perceptions of punishment. Through mailed correspondence with 83 incarcerated people living in 13 different prisons across one U.S. state, I find that staff act as front-line arbiters of punishment in three ways: in their role as gatekeepers to goods, services, and systems; when they physically assault incarcerated people; and when they purposefully antagonize the individuals they supervise. The practical and theoretical implications of staff arbitrating punishment in these ways suggests that without reform, prison staff will continue to cause additional, excessive, and unjust harm to incarcerated people.
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    Coach-Created Motivational Climate and Youth Soccer Player Self-Efficacy and Self-Talk
    Ciampa, John Anthony; Winsler, Adam
    Youth sports offer children a learning environment that can promote beneficial developmental experiences. Examples of these experiences include safe conditions for physical play with their peers, emotional maturation via executive functioning, and behavioral responses such as effort and concentration. The purpose of this study is to examine the relation between player perception of the coach-created motivational climate and player self-efficacy and usage of self-talk. Motivational climates are an inherent aspect of the psychological environment created by social agents that contribute to the athletic achievement-related experiences of the participants. For this thesis, participants were recruited from Vienna Youth Soccer, a non-profit soccer organization, and were aged between 10-13 years old. A total of 67 parents and players completed the survey with the average age of players being 11.55 years (SD =1.11). Participants completed the survey which measured player perceptions of the coach-created motivational climate, soccer self-efficacy, and self-talk use. The hypotheses included; players perceiving more of an ego-oriented motivational climate would have lower self-efficacy; players perceiving more of an ego-oriented motivational climate would use more negative selftalk; players who use much positive self-talk would have higher soccer self-efficacy; players with low self-efficacy and/or high in negative self-talk would show less interest in continuing to play soccer in future seasons; perception of motivational climate would be similar between the House and Travel soccer programs. Findings from correlational and multiple regression analyses revealed several significant relations between the variables but most of the hypotheses were not supported. Significant correlations were found between self-efficacy and three self-talk dimensions: motivational self-talk, positive self-talk, and negative self-talk. Females rated a higher perception of ego-oriented motivational climate and used less negative self-talk compared to males. White participants had higher levels of soccer self-efficacy that non-White participants. The child's own mastery-oriented motivation was marginally correlated with self-efficacy. Players who used much positive self-talk also used a lot of motivational and cognitive self-talk. Players use of self-talk was related to how much their coach encouraged them to use self-talk. Boys expected to continue longer in soccer than girls. There were no differences in motivational climate, self-efficacy, and self-talk use between the House and Travel players. The results from the multiple regressions controlling for race, gender, program type and age, however, indicated there no significant relationships between perception of coach motivational climate and soccer self-efficacy, motivational climate and use of selfx talk, nor between player self-efficacy and self-talk. The limited results might be explained by the small sample size and relatively low internal consistency reliability scores on a few of the measures. Coaches and soccer clubs should continue to be mindful of how they create their soccer environments and further research is needed.
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    The American Scream: Gender, Capitalism, and Power in Rural Haunted House Attractions
    Aquino, Betty; Gatling, Benjamin
    In the wake of industrialization many rural American farms embraced agritainment and learned they could commodify nostalgia and romanticized ideas of rural life. They evolved into Fall festivals featuring family-friendly agricultural entertainment, called agritainment, and reinvented a “pure” rural space, where families could seek refuge, and temporarily escape urban life. Some of these farms expanded their business into the evening by adding haunted house attractions. These farms transform at dusk, and perform a hostile identity, owning the narrative of dangerous “hillbillies” who don’t take kindly to strangers, while also performing other popular horror themes, tropes, and contemporary legends. In the same ways they commodify romantic rurality, they also commodify narratives that describe a clash between affluence and rural poverty, gendered behaviors, and invite audiences to become immersed in the narratives of the haunt to perform an elaborate folk drama. This thesis explores ten rural agritainment/haunted house attractions in Maryland, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Virginia through participant observation and auto-ethnography. I argue that the narratives performed at these rural haunts are both problematic and empowering and using the scholarship of performance, power, and narrative, I will demonstrate that this model of agritainment reflects community, contemporary culture, and their values. Whether it’s the romantic idea of rurality, or performing familiar legend and folk horror narratives, I argue that the American agritainment is a place of evolving rural identity. A place where communities reckon with systems of power, positionality, and performance in a way to maintain cultural relevancy.
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    The Sound of Religious Architecture: Using Sikh Musical Traditions and Postmodern Technologies to Produce Space in Northern Virginia
    Carle, Alexander R; Sadana, Rashmi
    This thesis explores kirtan as a musical practice that travels across a variety of geographically unbounded cultural landscapes (“-scapes”) with the aid of global social networks, postmodern transportation technologies, and technologies of space-time compression. The research employs the use of participant observation, participant interviews, literary analyses, and media analyses to determine how the kirtan brought to Fairfax Station (re)produces no fewer than three spatial identities associated with the gurdwara in Fairfax Station: a Sikh religious space, a Punjabi/Indian ethnic space, and a space of social (gender) (re)production. The author concludes with a discussion about how the kirtan practices (re)produced at the Sikh Foundation (and other gurdwaras) travels outward into new spaces, expanding the global Sikh religioscape and Punjabi/Indian ethnoscape, influencing the gender expectations and hierarchies that dominate those spaces, and informing the production of new educational spaces.
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    Anxiety Problems and Structural Amygdala Volume Differences in Autistic and Non- Autistic Youth
    Boyle, Joseph Patrick; Jack, Allison
    Autism is a cluster of highly heterogenous neurodevelopmental conditions that impacts differences in socio-emotional information processing; however, to date, little work has focused on the relevant brain systems involved in anxiety-related emotional processing in autistic youth. Importantly, despite recent efforts in broadening characterizations of the different presentations of autism based on sex assigned at birth, little is known about differences in psychopathological and neurodevelopmental trajectories between autistic girls and autistic boys. The present study interrogated neurodevelopmental differences in bilateral structural amygdala volumes in a sex balanced sample of autistic and nonautistic girls and boys aged 8-17 years old; we tested for effects of sex, IQ, diagnosis, along with anxiety problems and social behavior problems, in addition to interactions among these variables. Overall, between group comparisons did not reveal meaningful statistical differences in normalized left and right amygdala volumes when comparing autistic and typically developing (TD) counterparts. Autistic females (ASDf ) reported significantly greater anxiety problems relative to typically developing females TDf. Additionally, autistic males (ASDm) and ASDf did not differ on anxiety or social behavioral problem measures. As well, ASDf anxiety as a predictor of left or right amygdala volume did not survive statistical significance.
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    Echoes in the Forge
    Trammell, Meagan; Arthurs, Alexia
    On a future Earth ravaged by the fall of civilization, the descendants of the survivors are forced to scrape out a living amid a century-long ice age. Five years have passed since disgraced general Khess Lindhorne and her small group of loyal ex-soldiers fled from the walled city of Greyhaven and took up residence at an abandoned outpost in the uninhabited and brutal Northern Wilds. Just when she thought she was safe from her former king’s bounty hunters, a mysterious stranger arrives to pass on a message from the city she once defended: a revolution is brewing but doomed to be snuffed out in its infancy without a unifying leader. Seeing an opportunity to atone for her failures, Khess accepts an offer to be that leader—and run straight into what might be her own death. In Greyhaven, Duchess Estrid Ahmedani works from within the king’s inner circle to nurture rebellion against a cruel tyrant. Knowing that success rests on Khess’s return, she navigates a dangerous court determined to hold onto power by any means necessary. Meanwhile, in the unknown reaches of the north, a world-spanning threat awakens from a long slumber to fulfill a vengeful promise.
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    The Emergence of Relationality: The Ontology of Personhood and Age-Based Identity in the Mortuary Practices of Archaic Indian Knoll, Kentucky
    Mehalko, Olivia; Temple, Daniel
    This thesis examines the embodiment of biosocial age identity in the mortuary practices of the Late Archaic site, Indian Knoll (ca. 4600-3500 BP), in Kentucky. Utilizing bioarchaeological biosocial approaches and mortuary theory, the mortuary practices of Indian Knoll inhabitants were examined to determine persistent practices of biosocial mortuary identity, in which the embodiment of age-based identity is attributed to the cultural ontology of personhood. Lower mandibular radiographs were used to conduct biological age assessment on a preadult sample population in order to establish maturity-based dental age rather than chronological age assessment. Burial positioning, orientation, interment number, and grave good presence were compared across site between biological age groups. High correlation in burial form between biologically immature and mature individuals demonstrates that social identities were ascribed early in life in association with like-status individuals and reinforced over the life course. The inclusion of specific grave goods in select burial contexts emphasize hunter-gatherer identities across the mortuary landscape, which suggests that Indian Knoll biosocial identities revolved around inherent ontological relationships with non-human agents that are negotiated through persistent socioecological interactions throughout Indian Knoll’s occupation.
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    Centering Accessibility in Technical Communication Pedagogy
    Jedlicka, Kathryn; Ranade, Nupoor
    Technical and Professional Communication scholarship indicates that creating accessible texts should be an essential component of the discipline in order to meet the diverse needs of users, yet we have thus far failed to securely place accessibility as a primary feature in our pedagogy. In order to position accessibility as central to TPC, we must investigate the best methods of integration into our pedagogy in order to prepare students to be user advocates and to create more accessible documents. This study was conducted to investigate how and to what extent current curriculum positions accessibility as a core tenet of TPC and what practices can be implemented to better integrate accessibility as a central feature within the curriculum. A content analysis was performed on the syllabi of four required courses in the George Mason University (GMU) Professional and Technical Writing (PTW) master's program to identify existing areas of accessibility in the curriculum and to consider options for enhancement. A "digital toolkit" was then constructed to act as a repository of accessibility resources in order to determine if the usage of this resource would benefit the GMU PTW faculty in centering accessibility in the program. Surveys and interviews were conducted with current faculty and students of the PTW master's program, and findings indicate that they believe, despite existing barriers, that accessibility should be placed more centrally within curriculum, with a particular focus on practical resources. The need for centering accessibility in pedagogy to better prepare TPC practitioners for the industry is discussed, as well as implications for future research.