26 theses and the only common denominator is the colon

Posted in The Gnovis Blog

Let’s play a game! You tell me your thesis topics and I’ll figure out what you guys study at CCT!

Last Sunday, this was the very game suggested by a Dan, a Master’s student in the Government Department, over a thesis lunch break in the Carbarn. We humored this innocent, single disciplinary, student. Five CCT thesisers, in simple and concise terms, explained their thesis topics. Needless to say, the non-ccter Dan did not find the conclusion she was looking for. This Lose Weight Exercise confused the non-ccter, as well as the cct computer lab rats. The only difference, in fact, was that Dan was surprised.

Today I would like to suggest a similar Lose Weight Exercise. Below are some of 2009’s thesis titles.


A Colbert Bump: The Effect of Political Satire on the American Electorate

An Analysis of Urdu and English Editorials from Pakistani Newspapers Covering the 2007 Emergency

Being Authentic: Organizations, Rules, and Coherence on Twitter

Building Civic Youth Identities in Community After-School Art Programs

Claiming Universal Rights Across Cultural Boundaries: A Case Study of Transnational Activism in Asia

Dirty, Sexy, Vanity: An Examination of the Power of Condé Nast in Shaping Public Opinion

From Code to Community: The Material Practices of Open Source Software Development Hype, Text, and Theory

Information Literacy on the Web: How do Visual and Textual Cues Contribute to Website Credibility Assessments

Knowledge, Support and Serveblog.org: An Ethnography of a Pilot Online Community of Practice For AmeriCorps Members

Leveling the Playing Field: An Examination of Compensatory Journalism in the 2008 Republican Primary

Life Through the Lens: Cyborg Subjectivity in Cinema

Looking at Land: Social Construction of the Real Estate Market in Vilcabamba, Ecuador

Old Times There Are Not Forgotten: Civil War Reenacting and the Creation of Cultural Memory

Operationalizing Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR): A survey of communication practices

Persistently Profiled: Digital Identity as an Information Resource in Social Software

Post-Script: Competing Literacies and the Politics of Video Game Trailers

The Art of Diplomacy: The Use of Art in International Relations

The Burlesque Revival: Performance and Resistance in a Female-Dominated Subculture

The Construction of Feminism in the News from Suffrage to the Present

The Filipino Ringside Community and the Heroic Myth of Manny Pacquiao

The Politics of Fashion: American Leaders and Image Perception

The Role of Global Distribution and Consumption in Fully Actualizing the Creative Voice: An Analysis of the Entertainment Goods and Services of West Africa

Using Visualization Tools to Mitigate Information Overload on the Internet

Votermentary: Inspecting Voter Engagement in the 2008 Presidential Election

Why Claim Cultural Authenticity?: Cultural Organizations’? and Cosmopolitan Populations’? Claims About Reggae and Celtic Music in the U.S.

Working within Wikipedia: Infrastructures of Knowing and Knowledge Production

26 theses and the only common denominator is the colon: 21 in total.

But that fact won’t help us figure out what we do here at CCT, other then wanting to start off with something catchy.

For more content-based commonalities – check out this word cloud of 2009 thesis titles:

Wordle: CCT Thesis cloud

Also, this list of most frequently used words (after removing the, of, and, ect) for the more linear thinker. (btw- this is the most numbers I have used in any writing in gradschool)















As an interdisciplinary program, CCT is always going to be a bit of an anomaly in an ivory tower so neatly disciplined and narrowly specialized. But, how are we going to make sense of the education offered here?

Ever returning to our Big T vs. little t discussion, I think it is significant to note that thesis titles that directly mention Traditional media (newspapers, film, magazines, TV) vs. New Media (basically anything online. I know this distinction has problems) is even. Traditional Media 7: New Media 8. By comparison, the words community and cultural appear the most, with the related word social coming in second as frequently.

So what do we do here at CCT? In what are we interested? Just from the thesis titles, we could suggest a new title for this class of thesis-ers: cCt, where we are interested in communication and technology only as agents or symptoms of cultural changes.

Although thesis titles do not tell the whole story – many students with diverse and applied interests do not thesis – they are indicative of the trend for CCT to be interested in people first. Ashley Bowen illustrates her priorities very well in yesterday’s post. She focuses on technology as “the sum of the ways in which social groups provide themselves with the material objects of their civilization.” She concludes: Here’s to putting the “t” back in Technology! I do not think she is alone in the call.


Looking at these titles, I invite you to look for other trends that may help us figure out what CCT is and what we have in common.

Maybe I’ll repeat this Lose Weight Exercise after we finish our abstracts. If you need help writing one, try this:

Just for fun, my BFF who is working on a PhD in Electromagnetics offered his thesis title

A combined model for incoherent backscatter from foliage and coherent returns from an obscured perfect conductor beneath, over lossy dielectric ground using a convolutional pulsed vector radiative transfer theory for rapid computation.

(This means he figures out how to see through trees)