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  • Public defence: 2017-09-12 14:15 N109, Sundsvall
    Wang, Airong
    Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Humanities.
    Learning English in a Multi-User Virtual Environment: Exploring Factors Affecting Participation2017Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    Online language learning and teaching is a field that has received a significant amount of research attention. What factors could affect student participation in simpler online learning environments has been investigated by researchers, but there has been limited study of factors affecting participation in complex Multi-User Virtual Environments.

    By using the typical Multi-User Virtual Environment Second Life, three English courses offered by Swedish universities were examined in this thesis. The courses were video-recorded, and selected parts of the recordings were transcribed. The transcribed recordings were complemented by author(s)’ observation, participants’ reflection, an online questionnaire and an online interview. Participation from the courses was measured both quantitatively and qualitatively. Quantitative methods were used to measure, for example, floor space, number of utterances, turn length, number of turns; the qualitative analysis centered on, for instance, utterance functions, discourse analysis, and Conversational Analysis.

    The results were published in five papers that focused on different central factors affecting participation in Second Life. In this thesis, the findings from those articles are synthesized. Furthermore, on the basis of the findings, a general model of factors affecting participation is presented and discussed to highlight that different factors interrelate and that some factors are particularly important in terms of affecting participation in Multi-User Virtual Environments. These are students’ technical skills, task design, course design, technical support, and Second Life technology. The complex technology also places critical demands on teachers’ technical skills, teaching strategies, and roles that teachers should play. Finally, this thesis argues that it is important to choose a suitable technology for an English course.

  • Public defence: 2017-09-28 13:00 M 102, Sundsvall
    Proitsaki, Maria
    Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Humanities.
    Empowering Strategies at Home in the Works of Nikki Giovanni and Rita Dove2017Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    This thesis focuses on the presence of Black women characters in domestic contexts in the early poetry of African American poets Nikki Giovanni and Rita Dove and examines the strategies these women employ, individually and in close relationships, in order to empower themselves and sustain those around them. It provides a joint exploration of the work of two major contemporary poets from a literary and interdisciplinary perspective, mapping instances of the poetic expression of Black feminist politics. The theoretical approach builds on a range of understandings of empowerment, strategy, and the central importance of home in an African American context, as conceptualized primarily in the work of Black feminists, in particular Patricia Hill Collins and bell hooks. Structurally, the study follows the cycle of a woman’s life from girlhood to old age. Thus, poems involving the empowerment strategies of girls at home are explored first. They are followed by poems where the domestic lives of adult women and then elderly women are addressed, with a focus on their respective empowering strategies. Discussed last are strategies of empowerment evident in the interactions of (largely) Black women of different generations in poems depicting intergenerational contacts and relationships.

    Homeplaces created by Black women have historically been experienced as sheltering African Americans from the perils of the dominant white society and thereby Black women’s domestic experiences have generally been linked to privilege rather than to confinement and victimization. In the poems, when at home, Black women utilize different strategies to assert themselves and each other, implicitly or explicitly, emerging strong and resilient, even though sometimes they may merely derive satisfaction from their poor circumstances. Strong connections to the past and a sense of belonging, partaking in legacies and storytelling, as well as memory, imagination, dreaming and hiding, are recurring elements of their empowerment processes. However, their enjoyment of loving bonds and their sharing of African-derived knowledges and ways of being emerge as the most significant aspects contributing to their empowerment.

  • Public defence: 2017-09-29 10:00 Östersund
    Prince, Solene
    Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Tourism Studies and Geography.
    Imagining Tourist Spaces as Living Spaces: Towards a Relational Approach to Alternatives and Morals in Tourism2017Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    Many actors are taking advantage of the flexible barriers to entry of the tourist industry to engage in the production of varied forms of tourism closely related to their lifestyle, professional and communal ambitions. With the increased popularity of forms of tourism bringing the guest close to the host, it becomes relevant to ask questions related to lived experiences and close encounters in tourism scholarship. This is a moral conviction that the plurality of human experiences and critical reflexivity matter in the conception of tourist spaces and their management. In this thesis, I look for new ways to conceptually embed local people in their living spaces by approaching forms of tourism displaying non-economic elements as phenomena that create new and complex relations imbued with various implications. Tourism geography highlights the negotiated and fragmented nature of tourism, and its performative and embodied character. I apply relational geography to apprehend the multiple relations that make up local spaces and identities. With its post-structural character, relational geography uncovers voices once neglected in research, and proposes new ways of being in the world. My two qualitative case studies reflect my interest in exploring the northern European context. Firstly, I investigate craft-artists on Bornholm, Denmark and their relation to the tourist season. I do this through interviews and narrative analysis. My second case study, a focused ethnography at Sólheimar eco-village, Iceland, centres on the management of host and guest interactions.  In terms of spatial formation, results show that local actors have the agency to form networks and redefine their identities in the wake of tourism development. They form a hybrid space by fulfilling goals related to their lifestyle, livelihood and professional ambitions simultaneously. Moreover, mundane practices are presented as an integral part of a tourist landscape. In terms of management, results show that the various spatial complexities faced by communities exacerbate host and guest relations. This will require a commitment from local coordinators and managers to promote a reflexive and critical exchange during these close encounters. I ultimately argue for the imagination of tourist spaces as living spaces, where I conceptualize tourism as a mundane, yet complex, material and social experience for those living in tourist spaces. I propose two new discursive anchors that reflect the metaphor of the living space: dwelling in the tourist landscape, and sincere encounters. I contend that researching living spaces finds its moral grounds in its openness to the various ways local people dwell and encounter during tourism, and to the diverse ways researchers make sense of these practices, and of their own.