Dissertations and Theses Year-in-Review, 2017-18

tree buds on branch

It’s Commencement Day here at the Graduate Center! And that means it’s time to look back at the dissertations, theses, and capstone projects submitted to the library in the past academic year.

For many of us, this was a year of survival. We even survived the transition to CUNYfirst! For our graduates, I have this to say: you. survived. graduate school. Now is the time to reclaim your time—and put what you’ve learned into action, to realize our shared goal of “creating and circulating knowledge for the public good.” We have so much work to do, together.

Today’s ceremony will celebrate graduates across three degree dates in 2017-18 (September 30, February 1, and May 30), which together account for 537 new additions to our collection in CUNY Academic Works: 410 doctoral dissertations, 10 doctoral capstone projects, 106 master’s theses, and 11 master’s capstone projects.

As always, some are immediately available to read and download, while others become available after an embargo period set by the author. This year, approximately 44% of graduates chose to delay their work from public view, while 56% placed no restrictions.

There are a total of 34 programs represented in our graduate works, a slight decrease from 2016-17 as we bid our final farewells to Public Health and Engineering, but welcomed the first graduates from the new Women’s and Gender Studies M.A. program. The Ph.D. Program in Psychology topped the list of dissertations deposited with a whopping 71 (!) followed by English (26), Biology (25), and Music (23). Our master’s submissions increased by 33% over last year (there’s more to come, I hear) with Liberal Studies theses and capstones accounting for 86 of the 117, followed by Political Science theses (11) and Linguistics (10).

And let’s not forget about the program name change! Hispanic and Luso-Brasilian Literatures and Languages became Latin American, Iberian, and Latino Cultures—a change implemented with the September 2017 graduates (you’ll continue to see both programs listed on individual works, though, as we keep historical programs on display to reflect the degree information). These dissertations are almost always written in Spanish, though an English abstract is required so please do have a look at the incredible work being done by these graduates.

As always, there is a remarkable breadth of research topics covered in our graduate works. We have students studying the sharing economy and self-driving cars; investigating the role of medical providers in prescription opioid misuse; exploring the relationship between racial microaggressions and emotion regulation; examining the rise of digital policing technologies; analyzing the production of space in indigenous resistance movements; tracing transnational African American Mexican art and literature; and theorizing literary solidarity and anti-Colonial discourse in Hawai’i.

Angelica Ortega (Urban Education, May ’18) discusses the way in which music education effects literacy among bilingual youth in Corona, Queens, in “Musicking and Literacy Connections in the Third Space: Leveraging the Strengths of a Latinx Immigrant Community,” while Rebecca Siefert (Art History, May ’18) reevaluates artistic collaboration and feminism in “Lauretta Vinciarelli in Context: Transatlantic Dialogues in Architecture, Art, Pedagogy, and Theory, 1968-2007.” Neil Agarwal’s (Anthropology, September ’17) “Yellowing the Logarithm: How Money Solved the Problem of Freedom” and Benjamin Haber’s (Sociology, September ’17) “The Queer Allure of Digital Sociality” both get a mention here as beautiful examples of what a carefully-crafted title can do to situate a topic for the reader.

This year also included stunning digital work from our M.A. in Liberal Studies graduates, like Destry Sibley‘s (September ’17) “No More False Heavens: In the Wake of Campus Sexual Violence” and Lindsay Roth-Rosen‘s (February ’18) “Still Life: Growing Up With Death – A Visual Memoir,” both of which use the affordances of digital storytelling to explore the intersection of archival materials, life writing, and visual memoir.

Graduate Center students continue to look towards CUNY itself as research object, as in Danica Savonick’s (English, May ’18) examination of pedagogy and social justice in the SEEK program and Charles Jordan’s (Urban Education, February ’18) analysis of remediation and developmental education policies at CUNY. And archival investigations into student activism can be found in Brian Jones’s (Urban Education, May ’18) “The Tuskegee Revolt: Student Activism, Black Power, and the Legacy of Booker T. Washington” and Mya Dosch’s (Art History, May ’18) “Creating 1968: Art, Architecture, and the Afterlives of the Mexican Student Movement.”

And, finally, we move on to our favorite milestones:

Longest dissertation: Dory Agazarian (History, May ’18), “Buying Time: Consuming Urban Pasts in Nineteenth-Century Britain” at 551 pages.

Shortest dissertation: Julianne Guadalupe (Psychology, February ’18) “A Comparison of the Effects of Various Feedback Presentations on Typing Accuracy and Speed” at 51 pages.

Longest title: Hilal Erkovan (Psychology, September ’17) had the longest title for their dissertation, at 217 characters: “Does the Career Adaptation Process Change as a Function of an Employee’s Age or Employment Gaps? An Investigation of Relationships Among Personal Resources, Contextual Factors, Coping Behaviors, and Career Success.”

Shortest title: Vivian Liang (Political Science, May ’18) had the shortest title for her M.A. thesis, “Angelenos,” while Marilynn Johnson (Philosophy, September ’17) had the shortest dissertation title with the intriguing turn of phrase, “Meaning Through Things.”

As usual, I’m left with little to say about the many dissertations in the STEM programs (this, of course, is a reflection on me, not them). Rest assured that we have works that discuss totally positive integers, Hamiltonians, quantum algorithms, and much, much more.

Congratulations, all!

About the Author