Research Theses Submission

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    Linguistic and sociolinguistic development in L2 speaking: a comparison between Chinese ESL learners in different learning contexts
    (University College Cork, 2023) Mu, Di; Howard, Martin
    The aim of this longitudinal comparative study is to examine the impact of learning contexts on second language learners' linguistic and sociolinguistic development in speaking. To achieve this purpose, comparisons were made between the learning outcomes of two groups of Chinese ESL (English as a Second Language) learners studying in a SA (study abroad) or an AH (at home) learning environment over a three-month period. Specifically, the learning outcomes were assessed through linguistic development measured by grammatical accuracy and syntactic complexity in spoken English as well as sociolinguistic development measured by three indicators, namely -ing/in alternation, -t/d deletion, and use of contractions in spoken English. In addition, the quantitative correlations between the learners' linguistic and sociolinguistic development as well as between their linguistic/sociolinguistic development and different types of influencing factors (individual, contextual, stylistic, and linguistic) were explored in order to further analyze and compare the similarities and differences between the learners in the two learning contexts. A total of 16 SA learners and 10 AH learners participated in the research and completed pre-interview questionnaires, sociolinguistic interviews and reading aloud tasks at the beginning and end of the three-month study. By analyzing the data collected from the three instruments, this study provided answers to the four research questions. For the first question regarding linguistic development, it was found that neither group of learners made statistically significant progress over three months, but the comparison between the two groups at different time points showed that the AH context was overall more favorable to the acquisition of grammatical accuracy, and the SA context was generally more beneficial to the acquisition syntactic complexity. Similar results were obtained for the second question concerning sociolinguistic development—no statistically significant progress was observed in both groups over the three-month period, but the comparison between the two groups at the two time points indicated that the SA context in general provided greater benefits to the acquisition of -ing/in alternation in conversation and -t/d deletion in reading, as compared to the AH context. The third question explored the quantitative correlation between linguistic and sociolinguistic development. The findings revealed that the correlation between linguistic and sociolinguistic development was relatively low for learners in the SA group, while relatively high for learners in the AH group, suggesting that the SA learners’ sociolinguistic development was more independent than the AH learners. The last question examined the quantitative correlations between linguistic/sociolinguistic development and four types of influencing factors. The results suggested that all four types of factors, i.e. gender, contextual factors, speech style, and linguistic factors, exerted some extent of influence on L2 learners’ linguistic or sociolinguistic development, although the degree of influence varied between the two groups and/or between the different indicators. Despite some limitations, this study provided some pedagogical implications and suggestions for L2 acquisition researchers, university language learners and university language teachers.
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    To what extent are Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services engaged in Trauma Informed Practice: an Irish study
    (University College Cork, 2023) Heffernan, Sinead; Leahy-Warren, Patricia; Drennan, Jonathan; Dalton O'Connor, Caroline
    Background: Children and adolescents attending the mental health services are likely to have experienced childhood or intergenerational trauma. International and national mental health policy recommends that services integrate TIP into mental healthcare provision. A lack of research studies exploring the integration of TIP, with this cohort were identified. Method: A descriptive correlational study design utilised a convenience approach to gain a sample from the target population: all CAMHS staff nationally. Data were collected using a psychometrically validated organisational assessment tool. Mostly descriptive, inferential, and some thematic analyses were deployed. Results: Respondents reported low levels of TIP, overall. The majority of respondents were female, community based, clinical staff. Levels of trauma informed therapeutic engagement with service users, and organisational supports for TIP were ascertained from a staff perspective. Results indicated a varied results with therapeutic engagement revealing higher scores than the organisational related areas in CAMHS. Areas that pertained to person centred approaches to consistent care delivery, safety and care planning, and de-escalation were to some extent developed. Gaps in care provision related to language, culturally sensitive care provision, and coproduction including eliciting feedback routinely, communication, flexibility, and staff supports to mitigate vicarious trauma were identified. Further gaps pertained to educating both service users and staff about trauma and its impact on mental health, as well as TIP delivery and evaluation. Overall organisational rather than individual staff factors represented require significant development to achieve TIP. The results of inferential analysis identified relationships between staffs’ levels of satisfaction in current role; which was found to be the strongest predictor of TIP (R2=14.7%, p<0.001), followed by location of role (R2=8.2%, p<0.001) and length of service (R2=3.3%, p<0.040). No relationships were found re: role in CAMH service (p=0.495) and attending TIP training (p=0.840). Thematic analysis found that training was not systematically provided or attended. Gaps in relation to TIP training content, frequency and duration were identified. Discussion: TIP has been described as a humanistic approach to care delivery that recommends approaches that can optimise therapeutic relationships and person-centred care characterised by flexibility, peer supports and collaboration and require further development. Organisational supports for training provision for all CAMHS staff, that is sustainable, evaluated, and accessible, is required. Staff supports that mitigate vicarious trauma for staff also requires further development. An organisational commitment underpinned by resources, strategies to deliver change, guided trauma-informed policy to support TIP, is recommended. Conclusion: CAMHS acute and even more so, community-based services are not currently engaged in TIP, as recommended by mental health policy. The multifaceted nature of TIP requires an organisational approach to guide implementation. The results from this study have identified gaps in relation to organisational support for TIP which can add to the growing knowledge base to support the integration TIP into CAMH Services.
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    The emergence of postpartum pathology: sixteenth century discourse on postpartum depression
    (University College Cork, 2023) Cronin, Laura; Harris, Jason; Irish Research Council
    This thesis constitutes the first detailed study of the learned medical engagement with postpartum mood disorders through analysis of the evolution of postpartum pathology in the Western Latin print tradition of the sixteenth century (c.1550 – 1603). Historical overviews of these phenomena have typically omitted the progress which occurred during this period, in favour of a synopsis that passes from the works of Hippocrates (c.460 BCE – c.375 BCE) straight to the scholarly advancements of the nineteenth century. This thesis emends that omission and examines the extent to which postpartum insanity was recognised, discussed, categorised, and treated by early modern learned physicians by engaging with theoretical texts in addition to clinical case studies. It therefore investigates the connection between postpartum women and their experiences of insanity as interpreted by medical professionals of the sixteenth century. This thesis finds that while the interpretation of postpartum insanity was certainly not a uniform concept, or unequivocally recognised as a distinctly puerperal phenomenon, the documenting and collating of examples of mental alienation that had an indisputable connection to the maternal body increased significantly during this period and evolved to reflect contemporary knowledge at different stages of the century.
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    Essaying the portrait: encountering the other in the essay portrait film
    (University College Cork, 2024) Mulvey, James; Rascaroli, Laura
    The essay film has come to prominence since the turn of the century. Through the process of argumentation, it has allowed filmmakers to tackle a broad range of subjects, spanning a spectrum which shifts from the abstract to the concrete on a myriad of topics including objects, places, political events, theories, and the self. The essay’s shapeshifting practice, which can take the form of a travelogue, diary, notebook, self-portrait, or confessional, can be methodologically expressed diversely through dialecticism, dialogism, lyricism, or even as a poetics. Central to the essay film is the subject, who exploits the function of disjunction weighing the disparate elements, such as audio, visual, text, still image, sound, found footage, archive, and filmed footage to offer a personal viewpoint. This thesis builds on an already strong body of scholarship which notes that the essay film is a thinking mode of cinema, where the “I” of the text draws upon the disjunctive elements of the practice to enunciate a personal perspective. Given the solidity of the personal, a question emerges: what happens when this voice is interrupted by a second, also comprised of disjunctive audio-visual and archival materials? The essay portrait is an underdeveloped category of the essay film and, therefore, unique to this thesis is a shift from the singularity of the personal to the encounter with an other to investigate the shared experience of worlds. The assembled subjectivity introduces an element of jeopardy whereby the fragmented persona of the filmmaker encounters the disunity of another. The encounter is a disjunctive practice which introduces chance as a disruptive potentiality. It is through the between, out of the fissures and into the encounter that the spectator engages with a hybridic persona. This thesis proposes that the relation between the filmmaker as enunciator and the subject of the film unleashes the violent disruptive force of chance which is unavailable in existing readymade structures such as the biopic. This will open a debate on the fragmented breakup of the filmmaker, illustrated through a lack of control over the subject and, therefore, an inability to frame the subject in a particular way, implicating the viewer as an active participant in the process of essaying. To do this, the thesis will focus on essayistic portrait films from Europe and beyond, made from 2010 to present and will lean on pertinent examples from the history of the essay film and the biopic. This project defines the essay portrait film by adopting an essayistic style and a film-philosophical methodology, weighing through the encounter, while simultaneously delineating the form from other modes of portrait practice. To explore shared experiences of duration through the moving image as a portrait, it is imperative to begin with the work of Henri Bergson as a means for encountering the conditions for experience in the essayistic portrait film. This will be assembled, firstly, through the introduction of time, secondly, by releasing the image from its teleological stillness through the violent disruption of movement, and, finally, by means of endurance, in which the image incorporates the impact of change. To further interrogate these mediated conditions for experience, the writing of Walter Benjamin will be employed as an enquiry into the reshaping and construction of space. This will allow for a further exploration, where the past rushes into the present, thus fragmenting the structure of time to redeploy meaning-making. Expanding on the theme of time, this thesis will show how it is ensconced in objects and how it can be released through encounters with subjectivity. Jean-Luc Nancy’s “being-with” will be deployed to open a space for a fragmented self, providing the grounds for what Zsusa Baross terms “an encounter”, bringing the other into disjunction with the self, to create an essayistic portrait film. To broaden this discussion on the encounter, the work of Gilles Deleuze will be used to underline the significance of the encounter in the production of thought. Building on this, the concept of interpellation will be introduced to invite the spectator to partake in the weighing of fragmented subjectivities. Overall, this thesis shows that the essayistic portrait film does not present a fully formed person, static, complete, teleologically bound and linked to the completeness of history, but rather is a mode that draws on disjunction and fragmentation to articulate the complexity of a subject. In doing so, a violence emerges in the creation of thought through the essaying of a person.
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    Novel RNA-based biomarkers for ovarian cancer – uncovering how LINC01132 is regulated by the tumour suppressor protein, p53
    (University College Cork, 2023) Hartigan, Shaun; Dean, Kellie; McKenna, Sharon L.; Irish Research Council
    Ovarian cancer is one of the deadliest female cancers worldwide. Most cases are detected in advanced stages, as it is difficult to diagnose ovarian cancer early due to nonspecific symptoms. Presently, there are no sensitive biomarkers to identify early-stage disease. Over 60% of ovarian cancer cases have a mutation in p53, a tumour suppressor transcription factor which counteracts cell stress and oncogenic signals. Most mutations occur within p53’s DNA-binding domain, a vital region which facilitates its anchorage to target gene promoters. Previous data found numerous long-non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) are differentially expressed in ovarian cancer cells with mutant TP53, compared to those with the wildtype gene. Here, we show that three p53 mutants (R175H, I195T and R248Q) commonly found in ovarian cancer patients, were unable to activate firefly luciferase expression from a synthetic p53-responsive promoter, reflecting the impact of p53 core domain mutations on its ability to bind target promoters and transactivate gene expression. In silico genome-wide ChIP-seq analysis of differentially expressed lncRNAs identified three (MEG3, LINC01132, and LINC2960) containing regions within -1 kb of their transcription start sites, showing interaction with p53. Another four (EMX20S, PRICKLE2-DT, LINC00887 and LINC02610 contained p53-interacting regions within -5 kb. Division of the region up to -6,995 bp of the LINC01132 transcription start site into a distal, middle, and proximal segment, and subsequent cloning upstream of firefly luciferase, allowed us to assess p53 activity at the LINC01132 promoter. Western blot analysis could not detect luciferase expression from either segment under wildtype p53 overexpression, despite the proximal segment containing six p53-interacting sites. To determine the true response of wildtype and mutant p53 binding to the LINC01132 promoter, future quantitative reverse-transcriptase PCR and luciferase assays should be conducted, given their higher sensitivity compared to Western blot analysis. To improve patient prognosis in ovarian cancer, there is vital necessity to discover specific biomarkers, which can diagnose and monitor disease progression. LncRNAs can be detected in blood, so linking expression of differentially expressed lncRNAs to the mutational status of p53 in ovarian cancer, and studying how these change with the therapies, is novel, previously unexplored, and may aid in biomarker discovery.