Date of Award

August 2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Leslie Harris

Committee Members

Catherine H Palczewski, Sarah Riforgiate, Sara VanderHaagen


Definition, Queer, Rhetoric, Sex, Sexual Violence, Sexuality


This dissertation advances a deeper understanding of the rhetoric of intimate encounters by analyzing meaning-making practices at the intersections of sex, sexuality, and sexualized violence at the macro, meso, and micro levels. The object of my analysis is discourse about sex, sexuality, and sexualized violence, but this analysis also has implications on understandings of how corporeal rhetorics, or communicative meaning within bodies, are operating in moments of intimate encounters. Throughout my chapters, I interrogate how normative scripts around sex are constructed, disseminated, and perpetuated, how these normative assumptions impact intimate encounters and their connected public discourses, and how these normative assumptions are problematized by the existence of practices outside of these norms, such as queer sexuality. Woven throughout all of the chapters is the exploration of the connection between normative discourses and violence. Ultimately, this research further explores how power operates across the macro, meso, and micro levels, highlighting how meaning-making is connected across these levels, and argues to further recognize intimate encounters as a place of rhetorical significance.