Vin Nardizzi

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.

Uncommon grounds: LGBTIQ farmers, agriculture, and ecologies of social difference (2018)

This work is an ethnography of queer farmers throughout British Columbia and acknowledges that by working within such a diverse population, there exists no singular representation of “queer individuals,” “farmers,” and / or “queer farmers.” The research design integrates a qualitative, post-structuralist ethnographic and auto-ethnographic methodology based upon individual narratives and a review of both local (British Columbia) and non-local (national and international) print and web sources (academic and non-academic) related to gender, and especially sexuality, in agricultural production and practice. This study recognizes the existence of ecologies of social difference. I define ecologies of social difference as the role of ecological indicators, settings, and contexts as mediators and moderators in the intersections of social difference (i.e., the role of ecology in shaping both positively and negatively greater inequalities, inequities, injustices). This study draws from several intellectual lineages, from queer theory to feminist political ecology, to illustrate how agriculture might be transformed within a queer ecological context. Rooted in my belief that understandings of agriculture and ecology are shaped and impacted by gender and sexuality even as understandings of gender and sexuality are shaped and impacted by practices within and perceptions of agriculture and ecology, this work seeks to challenge heteronormative assumptions of both gender and sexuality and agriculture and ecology. It presupposes that queer sexualities can provide lenses through which farmers are not only creating new agricultural practices, but also new queer identities. These new, heretofore unstudied, lenses may then lead to the identification of new perspectives, practices, innovations and understandings of agricultural and ecological sustainability.

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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.

"Where lies the strangling fruit": transformations into vegetal death in Jeff VanderMeer and Alex Garland's Annihilation(s) (2024)

This thesis examines the pathological plants and vegetal deaths of Jeff VanderMeer’s novel Annihilation (2014) and its subsequent film adaptation of the same name, directed by Alex Garland (2018). Both the novel and the film explore (self)-destruction and death through encounters between the human and the vegetal, leading to a disintegration of ontological boundaries between the categories of “human” and “plant.” I term this disintegration eco-death – dying by becoming-plant. I contend that the novel and film portray eco-death by conceptualizing plants as fundamentally deathly entities, hovering precariously between life and death. I trace the journeys of the major characters of the novel and film as each of them transform into plant life and death. These transformations are both physical and epistemological, radically altering the bodies as well as the minds of the characters. Furthermore, the novel and film connect vegetal life to sickness, pathology, and – more so in the film – cancer. The novel metaphorizes the vegetal transformation of its protagonist as a spore-induced sickness, while the film further envisions plant life as specifically metastatic. My introductory chapter grounds my thesis through an engagement with the study of Weird and New Weird fiction and cinematic plant horror, as well as recent scholarship in critical plant studies. My second chapter, focusing on the novel, examines the interrelated transformative pathways of “becoming-vegetative,” “becoming-vegetal,” and “becoming-plant.” My third chapter, focusing on the film, studies how its evocative visuals locate an uncanny sublime in monstrous plant life. Both versions of Annihilation are significant, contemporary ecocritical texts whose close study allows for deep engagement with the philosophy of vegetal life and humanity’s fraught relationship to plants and nature.

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Pride in progress : an examination of queer shame in Shakespeare's A midsummer night's dream and Twelfth night (2023)

This thesis examines how Shakespeare incorporated early modern social policing and public shaming practices into his plays as a means of demonstrating and critiquing the unique role shame played in the deterrence of socially transgressive, and especially queer, behavior in Elizabethan England. It examines how the apparent disintegration of formerly immutable boundaries in the late-sixteenth and early-seventeenth centuries ignited fears of widespread disorder, leading to an increase in public shaming rituals like charivaris, rough ridings, cartings, and skimingtons. These punishments were carried out by one’s neighbors as a means of instilling order and shaming people who failed to conform to community norms. While, the Introduction will explore the historical context in which Shakespeare produced his plays (briefly outlined above), the ensuing chapters will focus on how shame features in two of Shakespeare’s comedies: A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Twelfth Night. Chapter One examines the methods used by A Midsummer Night’s Dream’s authoritarian male characters—Theseus and Oberon—to control the queer women who resist their rule. It argues that the men’s disastrous attempts to assert their dominance not only fail to effectively shame Hippolyta and Titania but result in potentially catastrophic consequences for the realms the duke and fairy king are supposed to protect. Chapter Two explores the centrality of shame in Twelfth Night and its role in punishing the disorderly behavior of queer characters who allow their transgressive desires to interfere with their obligatory roles in the gender and class hierarchies. It also examines how the Malvolio subplot exposes the myriad flaws in Elizabethan social policing and public shaming practices, as well as the hypocrisy of those who employ such methods to punish their peers. As a whole, this thesis attempts to throw into question the stability and intrinsic value of a social order which relies on the habitual and widespread application of shame for its survival.

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Timon unmasqued: Shakespeare's Timon of Athens and the ecopolitics of the Jacobean masque (2022)

Belonging to the “Tragedies” section of the Folio, Timon of Athens spotlights an Athenian lord who resorts to misanthropy after experiencing the ingratitude of his flatterers. Conventional readings of this play have largely focused on an allegorical aspect that regards Timon as a personification of Fortuna, a feminist approach by Coppélia Kahn that assigns Timon as a maternal figure, or an economic lens by Jody Greene that examines the sodomitic relationship between men. While all these directions offer critical understandings of the play, this thesis adopts methods of ecocriticism to follow Shakespeare’s ecological thinking. It aims to communicate that Timon of Athens is as much of a play about man and nature/earth as it is about man and man, as it stages both environmental issues that stem from an economy of excessive consumption and an ecology of living with nature.Through an ecocritical approach toward early modern historiography, court banquet culture, and the literary genre of Jonsonian masque, the chapters jointly demonstrate a shift in mindset toward the early modern ecological condition, through the change of nature in Timon’s character. The first chapter focuses on the early modern banquet, or the “void,” which exposes itself as a cover for exploitation of nature and the New World. The second chapter examines the inconsistency of the play and reimagines it as a Jonsonian masque in terms of structure. This method of interpretation provides an alternate speculation of Timon’s change in nature but also gives prominence to the Shakespearean ecological contemplations. Together, the chapters present a shift from ideologies of anthropocentrism and exploitative consumption of nature to a sense of recognition and consciousness of how the world operates without us and what mankind’s place is in nature.

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Contagious seeds: disease ecologies and colonial exchanges in early modern literature (2020)

This thesis investigates the rise of new medical perceptions of contagion theorized by Italian physician Girolamo Fracastoro (c. 1476-1553) and German physician Theophrastus von Hohenheim (c. 1493-1541) in the late fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. In contrast to traditionalist physicians, who believed that diseases were caused by an imbalance of one’s humours in response to changes in one’s environment, both Fracastoro and Paracelsus individually argued for an understanding of disease causation as the penetration of material entities, which they both denominated “seeds,” into human bodies. In this study, I posit that within these seeds’ infiltration into human bodies lies a phenomena of transformative becoming, which further intensifies the reciprocal kinship of the microcosm of the body and the macrocosm of the natural world, reframing pathogens and infection as parts of an ecological process which intimately intertwines corporeal and verdant landscapes.Through a historiographic approach to European medical, ethnographic, and literary texts, each chapter explores the material, cultural, and ecological influences connected to the modes of contagion and embodied experience of these epidemics. The first chapter investigates the medical and cultural responses to the rise of pox epidemics in Europe. Along with a rhetorical analysis of early reports and treatises, this chapter discusses the repercussions of the disease in Italy, France, and England by considering how the pox is linked to ecological and (super)natural phenomena. The second chapter examines the sociopolitical effects of smallpox epidemics in indigenous populations. Applying Michel Foucault’s conceptualization of “biopolitics,” this chapter demonstrates how conceptions about contagion and disease have been instrumentalized in colonial and mercantile enterprises as a means to obtain control over indigenous bodies and the environments in which they dwelled in the Americas. In exploring this interweaving of literary, artistic, and medical works, I chart how new conceptualizations of contagion in the sixteenth century influenced early modern literary and historical representations of infected bodies and their surrounding environs.

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In Memoriam: Monuments, Memorials, and the Revolutionary Dead in the Work of Jean Genet (2015)

This thesis investigates the memorial and monumental aspects of Jean Genet’s final memoir, Un captif amoureux. My introduction discusses biographical reading as a predominant trend in the critical literature and argues that this way of reading Genet empties out the political force of a deeply committed literary text, severing Un captif from the historical genealogies that led to its production. In response to this history, my work addresses the text’s memorial and monumental character in order to argue, first, for the sincerity of Genet’s articulations of political affinity to the Palestinians and the Black Panthers and, secondly, to argue that mourning, and the memorial impulse, are coextensive, in this text, with the (retrospective and prospective) production of community. I suggest that Genet considers memorial art as a means of assembling this community, whose point of connection (mourning) enables the transcendence (without the negation) of what might be considered to be irreconcilable differences, specifically national, ethno-religious, social, sexual and racial categories of identity. Chapter one considers the figure of cemetery as a spatial metaphor for the memory work being undertaken by the memoir. I argue that Genet conceives the power of the text’s commemorative capacity to be in its creation of a flexible and indeterminate discursive space, a figurative territory, for the literally dispossessed (living and dead) to inhabit. For Genet, the limitations of this project circulate around the identity and disposition of the prospective reader who, despite sometimes being characterized as sympathetic, appears to inhabit the text’s discursive space as an outsider. Chapter two turns from the architectural towards the sculptural. Unlike the spatial metaphor of the cemetery, which suggests habitation, dwelling, and the confluence of perspectives, the recurring image of the pièta suggests the devotional and ceremonial qualities of the memoir as a commemorative object and the text’s uneasy position within, and relationship to, the broader history and economy of Western representation. Comparing Genet to the vandalizer of Michelangelo’s pièta Lászlo Toth, I argue that his “vandalism” of the pièta produces both a new image to be circulated but, in creating a new image, a new referent also emerges.

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Pastoral, satire, and ecology in the modern memorial park: Evelyn Waugh's The Loved One and Forest Lawn (2014)

This thesis studies pastoral, satire, and ecology in Evelyn Waugh’s The Loved One (1948) and in the site that it satirizes: Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California. Forest Lawn, which Hubert Eaton founded in 1917 and Waugh visited in 1947, self-mythologizes as a pastoral garden. Its foundational myth promises that, “Filled With Towering Trees, Sweeping Lawns, Splashing Fountains, Singing Birds, Beautiful Statuary, [and] Cheerful Flowers,” Forest Lawn will be “As Unlike Other Cemeteries As Sunshine Is To Darkness, As Eternal Life Is Unlike Death.” This thesis uses insights gained from Waugh’s satire of Forest Lawn to show that the myth of the pastoral garden contributes significantly to ecological damage in the Los Angeles region and enables that damage’s subsequent forgetting. Through an ironic attention to pastoral representation, The Loved One exposes the mechanisms of environmental obfuscation and despoliation in Forest Lawn’s doctrine and environmental history. Forest Lawn’s relationship to natural resources emerges, in the light of Waugh’s satire, as ironic, exploitative, and deeply unstable. Ultimately, this thesis represents a step towards illustrating the usefulness of satire for ecocriticism; despite ecocriticism’s resistance to both studying satire and using its methods in environmental discourse, the satiric mode can productively expose and destabilize environmentally-dubious representational traditions.

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"Unborn and unbegot": Richard III, Edward II, and Queer History (2013)

In my thesis, I treat Shakespeare’s Richard III, Marlowe’s Edward II, and Shakespeare’s Richard II as a queer sequence of history plays, or a kind of co-authored triptych, by reading their influences on each other and focusing on the iterative elements of their writing of history. I describe in my thesis how the queer affects, desires, and pleasures in these plays are integral to a History – the shared knowledge and impressions of a British national past – from which they are and have been systematically excluded.

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Green smile, interrupted: The frustrated ecological possibilities in Alan Moore's Swamp Thing (2013)

In this thesis, I conduct an ecocritical reading of Alan Moore’s tenure as writer on DC Comics’ monthly superhero comic Swamp Thing, which spanned from Volume 2 Issue 20 (January 1984) to Volume 2 Issue 64 (September 1987). I explore the ways in which Swamp Thing’s efforts to understand “the green”—a metaphysical network that connects all plant life in the universe—both challenge and reinforce the classical, Western division between Culture and Nature. Richard Harrison claims that the tenure of each creative team on a superhero comic establishes that tenure as a novel built around a “‘core cluster’ of first principles that define the hero in time and place and set his or her story in motion” (26). Whereas the core cluster of first principles for Wein and Wrightson’s run on Swamp Thing establishes non-human Nature as a physically violent force that unites with violent Culture to produce the monstrous body of Swamp Thing, Moore’s run establishes a core cluster of second principles that posit a more peaceful Nature that is continuously in conflict with the violence of Culture. The primary image of Wein’s first principles is Swamp Thing’s face frozen in an expression of horror and agony, while Moore’s second principles rely on a peaceful, smiling expression on Swamp Thing’s face, which suggests that Swamp Thing’s face is the face of ecology and an icon for the point at which humans can speak to the environment. Wein’s Swamp Thing was the anguished face of the environment, the point at which humans experience the sublime horror of the swamp, but Moore’s Swamp Thing is the smiling face of the environment, the point at which humans are invited to interact with the plants that comprise the swamp. For ecology to be possible in Swamp Thing’s world, humans must engage the smiling face of the environment.

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The "pretty art" of detecting pregnancy in the Duchess of Malfi (2011)

Why is the pregnant body constructed as a secret to cover up and to uncover in the early modern period, and why, in Webster’s Duchess of Malfi, do apricots uncover this secret? This thesis addresses the odd moment from Webster’s play when the Duchess’s brothers uncover her secret pregnancy by feeding her grafted apricots, causing her premature labour. By examining early modern obstetrical texts, this thesis argues that early modern patriarchal culture appropriated the secrets of the female body in order to control women. In keeping her pregnancy a secret, the Duchess unwittingly produces her brothers’ desire to penetrate that secret. In order to do so, her brothers – particularly Ferdinand – feed her apricots, metaphorically transforming her body into a fruit tree. Early modern botanical texts show that the Duchess’s botanical body legitimates her brothers’ desire to control her. While apricots were not used as a pregnancy test according to early modern obstetrical texts, they could cause premature labour. This thesis sheds new light on the question of incest in Webster’s play, arguing the centrality of a phallic pun that appears in early versions of the play – “apricot” was “apricock.” This pun highlights the penetrative characteristics of the fruit, adding to the evidence of Ferdinand’s incestuous desire: his grafted apricocks penetrate the Duchess’s body and produce (figuratively, at least) her apricock child. Early in the play, Ferdinand is described as a plum tree, and this thesis finds – in the early modern gardening manuals – that apricot trees were most often grafted to plum trees in order to produce fruit. The fruit of the Duchess’s womb, revealed by her brother’s grafted apricocks, is figuratively the fruit of the apricot tree – the Duchess – and the plum tree – her brother Ferdinand.

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The mill-site: Victorian processing in England and "Vancouver"; from Eliot to Marlatt (2010)

This thesis explores the mill-site as a discursive, literary, and physical location. The philology of “mill” sets the focus on processing, which is described as a transformative action between nature and culture, one that nonetheless contributes to the ideological purification of those categories and to the construction of the “resource” as a formless reserve for consumption. The histories of power technologies (like mills) and their integration with ecologic and economic systems participate in determining the kind of relationship manifest between nature and culture. Noting the extension of the literal and figurative senses of “mill” to the processing of language, I also propose a notion of transcursivity to signal the transformation of language and symbolic additions to the activity of the mill-site. Chapter Two focuses on a reading of George Eliot’s novel The Mill on the Floss (1860), supplemented by an analysis of processing in Herman Melville’s story The Paradise of Bachelors and the Tartarus of Maids (1855) and Charles Dickens’ article “A Paper-Mill” (1850). I argue for the importance of mill and setting to Eliot’s novel, finding the mill to be an active force in the plot at several junctures; The Mill on the Floss, through its engagement with the relation between different economies and the relation of economy to ecology, can be considered a central text for the study of such themes in Victorian literature. Close analysis of the language of processing itself points to the importance of medial substances like fibre and grain to the construction of materials as “resources.” Chapter Three describes the Hastings Mill, located in various historiographies as the Victorian “origin” of the City of Vancouver. Through exploration of archival and published historical texts, I describe that mill’s originary intervention as a break in the system that alters the region’s economic/ecologic history. Daphne Marlatt’s novel Ana Historic (1988) depicts this historical origin and seeks to problematize its common narrative by reimagining ignored women’s histories and by queering the significance of this colonial mill-site. Marlatt elucidates problems of historical interpretation associated with the mill’s form of biopower, and its influence on relation of nature to culture.

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