Miguel Mota

Associate Professor

Relevant Thesis-Based Degree Programs


Graduate Student Supervision

Doctoral Student Supervision

Dissertations completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest dissertations.

Station to station: Comtemporary British literature and urban apace after Thatcher (2013)

“Station to Station: Contemporary British Literature and Urban Space After Thatcher,” examines specific literary representations of public and private urban spaces in late 20th and early 21st-century Great Britain in the context of the shifting tensions that arose from the Thatcherite shift away from state-supported industry toward private ownership, from the welfare state to an American-style free market economy. This project examines literary representations of public and private urban spaces through the following research question: how did the textual mapping of geographical and cultural spaces under Margaret Thatcher uncover the transforming connections of specific British subjects to public/private urban space, national identity, and emergent forms of historical identities and citizenship? And how were the effects of such radical changes represented in post-Thatcher British literary texts that looked back to the British city under Thatcherism? Through an analysis of Thatcher’s progression towards policies of privatization and social reform, this dissertation addresses the Thatcherite “cityspace” (Soja) and what Stuart Hall calls the “deregulation of the city” (23) as these open my research to issues of spatially affected identities in literary representations of the British city at the turn of the century. My four case studies move from a broad discussion of the effects of the heritage industry on the city and the individual (Iain Sinclair’s Lights Out for the Territory [1997]); to the relationship between space, identity, and the rolling back of the welfare state as it plays out in the stigmatization and neglect of council estate housing (Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting [1993]); to representations of race and entrepreneurialism in the Thatcherite city (Monica Ali’s Brick Lane [2003]); and, finally, to representations of space, gay identities, and class during a period of institutionalized homophobia (Alan Hollinghurst’s The Line of Beauty [2004]). The project takes as its aim the tracing of various tentacles of Thatcherism as they creep across the spaces of the British city in a way that draws attention to how the processes and flows of Thatcherite neoliberal policies circulate across the spaces of the city, forever altering the ways in which individuals move and form identities within those spaces.

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Master's Student Supervision

Theses completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest theses.

Failure of cinematic (re)creation : speculative adaptation and science fiction cult film (2023)

In 2011, media scholar Simone Murray encouraged other scholars to consider the “analytical blind spots” of adaptation theory, arguing that the field needed to move away from textual, aesthetic, and comparative evaluations of literary adaptations to instead consider the cultural economy behind the process. This thesis builds on this view while not completely disregarding the realm of the textual or the aesthetic. Rather, I analyze how these evaluations materialize in specific cultural, historical, and reception contexts, transforming or crystallizing in time though never retaining a static aesthetic or social value. This dynamic and conjectural aspect of adaptation leads me to consider adaptation-as-process as inherently speculative and concerned simultaneously with the present and future of a text; in this way the questions of science fiction coincide with those of adaptation studies, making it possible to lay grounds for a specific theoretical and analytic plane for studying SF adaptations. I then define what I call “speculative adaptation”: that is, science fiction adaptation that looks to the future of a text—not just through its generic conventions but through its historical, cultural, and industrial processes. Adaptation is also often concerned with the concept of fidelity and failure in the form of poor market performance, critical and audience reception, or the author’s disavowal. I complicate this concept of failure in adaptation and posit that SF as a genre is the most suited for illustrating this complication because of the volume of SF films labeled as failures, especially those that have gained a cult status. To do so, I focus on film adaptations that were either produced or abandoned at the production stage during the 1970s and the 1980s and aimed at American audiences: Frank Pavich’s Jodorowsky’s Dune (2013), a documentary on Alejandro Jodorowsky’s attempts to adapt Frank Herbert’s influential novel Dune to the screen in the mid-70s, Ken Russell’s adaptation of Paddy Chayefsky’s novel, Altered States (1980), and David Cronenberg’s adaptation of William Burroughs’ novel of the same name, Naked Lunch (1991).

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Literature after criticism : Ian McEwan in the school of F. R. Leavis (2023)

The full abstract for this thesis is available in the body of the thesis, and will be available when the embargo expires.

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The Peeliverse : Jordan Peele and his transmedia storyworld (2023)

This thesis examines Jordan Peele as the creator of a transmedial story-world that is built both via the connections between his films and the various paratextual materials that surround them. These, I argue are not extraneous adjuncts to the films but a crucial part of the overall story-world itself that take on lives of their own. Embedded within my analysis of Peele’s work is both the socio-political critiques at the centre of each film and the curation of Peele’s image. As part of this attentiveness to the wider world of film, I argue that Peele sidesteps the usual pitfalls of Hollywood cinema and production to build a company that champions diversity and collaboration within the film industry. Moreover, using Alessandra Raengo’s critical framework of the representational shadow paradigm, I argue that the public image that Peele curates allows him to bolster the representation of Black and non-Black marginalised voices within the film industry without conforming to the indexing of Black cinema as mirror-image or self-portraiture.

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Unreconciled legacies : addressing same-sex male sexual violence, intimacies, agencies, and negotiations within the Holocaust and Indian Residential Schools (2023)

Attempts to address sexual violence against men and boys (SVAMB) within the Holocaust and Indian Residential Schools (IRS) contexts have achieved varying levels of success. Research concerning SVAMB during the Holocaust is still in its infancy, while the IRS context, primarily through the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, has made SVAMB a foundational aspect of its discourse. However, both contexts have neglected to engage questions of sexual agency, which are integral to understanding how individuals attempt to survive violence and, in some cases, resist their oppressors. This thesis seeks to first develop and later put into practice with Holocaust and IRS survivor testimonies an approach for considering the complex invocations of agency in these violent contexts in relation to SVAMB and/or sexual barter. Specifically, my thesis draws from Jewish Auschwitz survivor Primo Levi, lesbian-feminist theorist Anne Cvetkovich, and European intellectual historian Dominick LaCapra to articulate a multidirectional approach that positions the body as a non-sovereign site of ongoing negotiations, which functions to (1) shift “agency” from a fixed, transferrable concept, (2) nuance and make visible how victims/survivors engage in forms of sexual agency and/or resistance during and after a sex act, and (3) understand how individuals may “act out” and “work through” their sexual trauma. After, I apply this approach to testimonies from the following individuals to articulate forms of sexual justice, propose a method of addressing complex forms of lateral violence, and advocate for addressing sexual trauma at both the community and individual level: Holocaust survivors Heinz Heger and Gad Beck, and residential school survivors Tomson Highway, Richard Hall, and Laurie McDonald. Ultimately, my project addresses unresolved traumatic histories stemming from sexual violence that permeate the lives of survivors and risk being reproduced within their biological/queer chosen families today.

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Choose silence: how Thatcherism drove Scotland's underclass under-the-influence (2020)

The drug addicted characters in Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting novels and Danny Boyle's film adaptations desperately seek to escape their Edinburgh environment through their use of heroin. Some may view their drug-taking as a display of inherent deviance or an attempt at self-destruction; instead, I view their consumption of opioids as a method for self-preservation in response to their societal alienation. In my thesis, I argue that this alienation stems from the predicaments plaguing Scotland’s population during the premiership of Margaret Thatcher. Thatcher’s administration prioritized the material desires of neoliberalism over the frequently suppressed principles of the welfare state. In this way, Thatcherism further oppressed Trainspotting’s underclass by pushing policies that often inspired adverse emotions in those who could not adapt, which I propose encouraged subsequent substance abuse as a method of self-preservation. Specifically, these policies contributed to deindustrialization, mass unemployment, uninhabitable housing conditions and an overall sense of deprivation and disenfranchisement among the Trainspotters. Largely devoid of the immediate option to improve their circumstances due to a lack of economic means and limitations related to their social statuses, the Trainspotters instead search for a superficial way out of these constricting circumstances. Already alienated from society, the characters in Welsh’s novels and Boyle’s films see in heroin an opportunity to reinforce their withdrawal as they live like ghosts in a state of ‘junkie limbo,’ a space that exists between full participation in Thatcherite society and total disengagement via death. Initially meant as a temporary anesthetic, opioids become a lifelong companion of the Trainspotters due to the painful nature of physical withdrawal and poor drug policies. Methadone, for instance, sustains the Trainspotters’ drug dependency while increasing the prevalence of an overdose, and continues to claim the lives of Scottish addicts left over from the ‘Trainspotting Generation.’ Utilizing the complete Trainspotting series as a key case study, with an added focus on the most recent text, Dead Men’s Trousers, and film, T2 Trainspotting, my thesis will contribute to the prior research done on the ‘Trainspotting Generation.’

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"[I]f it makes no sense then you understand it perfectly:" Exploring ideas of fundamental freedoms in the theatrical legacy of Sarah Kane (2013)

This Thesis uses Sarah Kane’s first and last plays, Blasted and 4.48 Psychosis, as case studies to show Kane’s development in appealing to contemporary history through performance, both as an act of warning against lethargy and as an opportunity to consider the extent to which issues can be represented as unmediated, outside of social structures, outside of the logic given by law or religion, and outside of the lobbying of various interest groups. Both plays are assessed not only as referencing their own period—Blasted as urgently calling attention to the globally long-ignored genocide in Bosnia, and 4.48 Psychosis as a critique of mental institutions in the context of the further formalization of human rights in the UK—but also as having a significant potential for future performances highly relevant in more current political and social contexts, such as, for example, the humanitarian crisis in Darfur (Sudan), only one of 17 United Nations peace operations on four continents, or the case of Tony Nicklinson and his fight to legally end his life. In her exploration of the relationships between oppressor and oppressed, Kane recreates in her theatrical form a similar relationship of abuse between stage and audience. By recreating a sense of community within the space of the theatre and reinforcing awareness of a shared responsibility, Kane enters the public arena of global politics and confronts her audience with the question: ‘Are you/will you remain only an audience member, or do you decide to act?’

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