Digital Arts and Humanities - Doctoral Theses

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    Mad mums, bad dads and heroines with "street cred”: an analysis of multiple perspectives on the appeal of Jacqueline Wilson's dark realism
    (University College Cork, 2023) Quinlan, Áilín; O Gallchoir, Cliona; Martin, Shirley
    Jacqueline Wilson remains one of the most controversial – and popular - children’s authors writing today. Many of her stories focus on uncomfortable family and social issues, ranging from separation and divorce to infidelity, domestic violence, child abandonment, foster care, breast cancer and mental illness. Wilson’s depiction both of the dark side of domesticity and of how her realistic young protagonists respond to the challenges they face in chaotic, deprived and sometimes frightening home environments, has brought her a mixture of disapproval and renown from the adult world and earned her an enormous fan base amongst child readers. The question addressed in this study is why such apparently bleak and depressing topics hold such enormous attraction for young girls, and what it is about the darkness in these stories that they enjoy. Furthermore, given how these popular books are characterised by such grim modern social realism, it is also important to determine whether the young readers are receiving an accurate and fair picture of the reality of life for some children. This thesis will explore these issues and others. A study of the available literary criticism on Wilson’s work in terms of her realism, characterisation, style and technique, was supported by extensive research into the perspectives of renowned literary scholars in the area, and an examination of traditional realistic children’s literature whose roots stretch back to the publication of A Pretty Little Pocket Book in 1744 by the publisher John Newbery. This was followed by an examination of relevant sociological research on the impact on some children of living in families headed by lone parents and/or in circumstances of financial deprivation, relationship breakdown and blended families in order to determine whether the experiences of Wilson’s young protagonists accurately reflect those of real children in similar situations. Following extensive engagement with both literary criticism and sociological research, the thesis will then present the results of primary research conducted to further explore the research questions. This primary research methodology was qualitative and involved both adults and children. A series of semi-structured interviews with adults explored the perspectives and insights of parents and experienced professionals working in the area of childhood who were familiar with Wilson’s work. The research with children was conducted using participatory research methods to seek the views of some of Wilson’s young readers on what attracted them to the dark realism of her complex and often grim family stories. The researcher established a Jacqueline Wilson Book Club which met seven times and utilised focus group participatory methods. It should be emphasised that the young focus group members in particular contributed significantly to the findings of this research, offering thought-provoking perspectives on how girls are often portrayed in literature, and on the dynamics of family relationships and the complex web of child and adult behaviour which lie at the heart of Wilson’s work. It is important to state here that a significant issue to emerge from the research carried out for this thesis was the absence of the voice of the child reader in scholarly discussions of children’s literature. This thesis sets out to help address this lacuna by giving children the opportunity to express their opinions on Wilson’s work in terms of why they enjoy it, thus demonstrating the potentially significant contributions that can be gained from exploring the perspectives of child readers and thereby corroborating or contesting existing scholarly theories on the benefits or otherwise of including children’s voices in literary criticism.
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    'Scéal to Storia': creating a framework for cultural heritage education, outreach learning methodologies and international exchange in primary schools
    (University College Cork, 2022) Hegarty, Aoife; Murphy, Orla; Cosgrave, Michael
    This research was initially inspired by the obvious differences between a childhood growing up in London, to one based in rural Ireland. For instance, regardless of financial status, educational opportunities can vary widely based simply on geographic circumstances. Following some initial reading in public history and outreach programmes, it became clear just how variable learning can be. The development of this investigation grew over time to consider the ways in which educational barriers could be alleviated, and how learning opportunities could be adapted and delivered within alternative settings. The theme of such learning programmes was focused entirely on arts, cultural and historical knowledge using museum-style exhibition-based teaching as its core inspiration. Following a connection with Swiss-based student Giulia Ferrati, the research began to take more focus into addressing the methodologies of arts or museum-based teaching for delivering educational opportunities as an alternative to formal learning practices. This focus was particularly aimed at children who were experiencing a barrier to accessing such opportunities. Shortly following this connection, an intensive collaboration was founded and the creation of Scéal to Storia came into being. This was an international project, practically designed to explore learning methodologies that help primary school-aged children experience arts, cultural and historical education in the classroom. While these topics are often on school curricula, in this instance, the project was concentrating on the styles of learning that normally occurs in an informal setting, such as a cultural organisation; with the intention of bridging the accessibility gaps that can so often occur in education. The research took place in Cork, Ireland and Milan, Italy with the practical delivery of the project spanning the course of one academic year in two primary schools in each respective location. The schools groups followed a framework of learning designed by the researchers, which incorporated a knowledge exchange for the students to interact with each other throughout the duration of the programme. The project was supported by both respective universities, University College Cork (UCC) and Geneva University of Art and Design (HEAD), as well as both respective city councils. This thesis examines the development of this project through its design and implementation, and analyses the outcomes. This analysis provides insight into a variety of learning methodologies, and arts and cultural education in the classroom. It further provides an examination of cultural exchange and how it can be adapted to maximise its strengths. It looks at how digital innovation can aid the exploration of intercultural learning and the implications of digital humanities and public history in a classroom setting. The study contributes to ongoing research and debates within public history as well as education, and curriculum structures.
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    The smart way of life: an inter-generational study of the use of smart technological devices in modern Irish society
    (University College Cork, 2022-04-15) Ansaroglu, Adil Cahit; Murphy, Orla; Hourigan, Niamh M
    This thesis examines the impact of the usage of smart technological devices (such as smartphones, tablets, computers) in Irish society by comparing older (50-70 years old) and younger generations (18-25 years old). 16 interviewees participated in this qualitative study, eight from each age generation. This study draws on two major disciplines, namely, Digital Humanities and Sociology, while also taking elements from Psychology. It uses an interpretivist methodology to critically explore the main findings. Relying on the notion of intuitiveness, the findings of the first chapter develop the notion of “What is beautiful is usable” into “What is beautiful and intuitive is usable”. The chapter, through an in-depth discussion on intuitiveness, ease of use and perceived usefulness shows how smart devices respond and adapt to users’ daily activities. Rooted in a discussion on neuroplasticity and the life course, different learning stages of the younger and older generations are compared. The chapter illustrates how each generation learns to use and adapt to smart devices based on their stage of life. The second chapter explores how the concept of privacy is engaged with smartphone use for both generations. It uncovers how people, through using these smart devices, may be unaware of their activities being tracked across the web by companies for specific purposes such as advertisement targeting. Significantly, this chapter also finds that the participants are more aware about their privacy when it comes to social media activities, but to a lesser extent when it comes to browsing the web. It is clear from the current study that smartphone usage in both generations also leads to some negative effects for the participants. The time spent on smart devices emerges in chapter three as being a key contributor to what has been called addictive tendencies. Chapter three explores in detail the potential for emotional contagion, the impact of No Mobile Phone Phobia (NoMoPhobia), fear of missing out (FoMo) and the impacts of social media on both the younger and older generations. The final theme, social class, examines how older and younger people differ when it comes to the consumption of technological devices. The older generation explain how they prefer to have functionality over style or brand. On the other hand, the younger generation explain how the ‘style’ or in Bourdieusian terms ‘taste’ affects the usage of their smartphones and smart devices. These findings are discussed through the lens of Pierre Bourdieu’s concept of ‘Capital’ and Thorstein Veblen’s ‘Conspicuous Consumption’.
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    A method to the madness? Representations of female psychological disorder in Irish women’s fiction 1878-1914
    (University College Cork, 2022-10) Regan, Éadaoin; O Gallchoir, Cliona; Laird, Heather; University College Cork
    This thesis investigates representations of female psychological disorders in selected Irish women’s fiction published between 1878 and 1914, focusing on how these stories challenge contemporary perceptions of the cause and cure of mental illness. The authors included in this project are as follows: George Egerton, Edith Somerville and Martin Ross, Richard Dehan, Sarah Grand, Bithia Mary (B.M.) Croker, and Charlotte Riddell. I propose that these stories point to contemporary women’s awareness of their mental illnesses or what society perceived these to be. This includes a discussion of Freudian analysis’ wide-ranging list of hysterical symptoms: general illness, fantasies, or dreams. It also explores various instances of self-harm such as anorexia, alcoholism, and suicide. With reference to contemporary psychoanalytic theories on hysteria, I offer a correction to cultural perceptions of women’s mental health issues during the fin de siécle. For some of the texts explored, these Irish women writers were anticipating psychoanalytic interpretations of wider women’s experiences or at the very least responding to the culture which formed psychoanalysis. Furthermore, I argue that in contrast to prevailing perceptions of the time, the texts suggest that neuroses are not solely caused by repressed sexuality. This thesis contributes to a re-evaluation of fin de siècle Irish women’s writing, thus building upon the research carried out in this area over the past three decades. It does so by employing critical readings of nineteenth-century Irish women’s writing but through an alternative methodology, one that engages with long-neglected Spielreinian, Horneyan, or Jungian theories. This thesis therefore explores fictional representations of fin de siècle women’s mental illness using psychoanalysis as a comparative study of the impact domestic, social, and cultural had on neurotic behaviour. This thesis also engages with the implications of the geographical proximity of Ireland to the centre of the British Empire, which necessitated the former’s adherence to the latter’s laws and social expectations. For Irish women, like their English counterparts, there was an emphasis on women’s integral roles within the Empire as daughters, wives, and mothers. While the New Woman movement stretched beyond Ireland and Britain, differences in legal and cultural ramifications means that the experiences represented in these fictional texts incorporate complex contemporary tensions which result in psychological disorder. Though thesis focuses on women’s experiences during the period, where relevant, it also examines the role of Irish culture and its impact on the selected fictional instances of madness. The British Empire’s colonisation efforts in Ireland had significant impact on the island and are inextricable from discussions of its sexuality, maternity, culture, individuality, and women’s mental illness. Similarly, psychoanalysis was not created in a vacuum. If Freud’s case studies can be deemed an archive of their time, then the selected Irish women’s writing can be seen as somewhat of a counter-archive. As argued throughout this thesis, the selected fiction deconstructs contemporary perceptions of a universal Irish women’s experience during this period. It therefore suggests Irish women had a far more intricate understanding of their mental illness, and society’s impact on it, than their contemporaries acknowledged.
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    "Nordic Joyce: Old Cawcaws Huggin and Munin for his Strict Privatear"
    (University College Cork, 2022) Lawton, Mary; Davis, Alex; University at Buffalo
    Nordic Joyce compares the interrelationship of James Joyce’s works and specific Nordic literature in translation, employing an onomastic and etymological framework that offers an innovative opportunity to re-visit, re-view, and re-think Joyce’s canon. The thesis proposes a methodology to assess Joyce’s work and specific Nordic narratives, arguing that names and terminology may be defined through their respective engagement with thematic considerations, thus providing a relevant critical structure by which to study the application or construction of these in Joyce’s writing. It contributes to Joyce studies proper: detecting and interpreting specific Nordic texts and language’s role in Joyce’s oeuvre. Narratives, created under vastly different circumstances, reflecting distinct writing cultures, societies, and histories, connect and transform in Joyce’s modernist perspective. At the same time, I indicate how Joyce’s fiction appreciates Nordic literature’s role, both contemporary and medieval, broadly and narrowly defined as a recurrent theme in his work, and to a recognition of the influence of Danish writer Hans Christian Andersen, the Nordic languages, and other Nordic writers upon his innovating language creation and reconstruction. Terminology and methods of several practitioners in comparative, onomastic, and etymological disciplines are used to examine these associations. Comparative theories from Georg Brandes through David Damrosch, plus critical issues in onomastic and etymological lexical subdisciplines by theorists Warren R. Maurer, Grant W. Smith, Yakov Malkiel, Staffan Nyström, Willy van Langendonck, and David Seed amongst others, inform this study, emphasising the importance of Nordic, thematic content in Joyce’s style and form. Seminal figures, concepts, and terms in these theories will be introduced. Still, the most basic distinction is worth noting: the essential status of authorial name-giving, how Joyce distorts onyms to distribute autobiographical constructions in the disparate texts studied, and the meaning these misinterpreted, reconstructed, and sometimes hidden Nordic terms have for Joyce. This persuasive literary onomastic and etymological wordplay plays a crucial role in his fiction, demonstrating an interaction between language, characterisation, and authorial vision.