Students in their final year of the Contemporary Studies Program work with a faculty supervisor to complete an honours thesis. Each year, a prize is awarded to the writer of the top thesis paper.
“This thesis employs architectural history, surface reading and theories of the lyric essay to consider how Robertson’s essay collection documents the city of Vancouver as it undergoes significant social and economic transformations between 1998-2003. I argue that the fictional Office for Soft Architecture, a sort of pseudonym Robertson adopts, uses surface reading, the act of listening to the surfaces of the city–its façades, its parks, its textiles–to communicate the change witnessed during this time. This thesis is also interested in the affinity between this way of reading and the collection’s form, the lyric essay, essays with the sensibility of poetry.”
“My thesis, “Can You Take the Human out of the Humanities?: Towards a Posthuman Ecology,” was born as I tried to make sense of my odd degree (in CSP and Biology) and the value of a multi-disciplinary education. As I became interested in environmental philosophy, I found myself asking whether there is a place for the humanities in responding to the ongoing environmental crisis. To try to answer that question, I took up the Deep Ecology movement of the 60s, eco-feminist thought, posthumanist philosophy, and microbiology (among other threads) in order to explore new ways to conceive of the human “self.” To move beyond anthropocentrism in our environmental ethics, I argue, we must recognize that we are co-constituted with, but not identical to, the non-human beings that make up our worlds. To access and express a sense of “self” that is receptive, relational, and nomadic, we must use writing strategies which, in both form and content, blur the boundaries among atomistic subjects and among disciplines. This style of writing, I argue, belongs not to the humanities, but the posthumanities.”