Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Thesis


English Language and Literatures

First Advisor

Erik Doxtader


In this study, I inquire into the question: how do subjects negotiate sex, and find that the language of consent presupposes a capacity to speak about sex and a conception of intersubjectivity - the coming together of subjects - that is based on interpenetration (of both language and bodies). This study finds that consent follows from a classical model of consent theory - the work of John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau - that sustains and perpetuates a closed model of consensual talk; as well, this closed discourse limits the human capacity and potential for sexual expression, particularly in consent's presuppositions of intentionality that enact an Austinian model of communication.

From phenomenological, feminist, and political perspectives, I demonstrate how we can begin to move beyond this closed model of talk by rethinking intentionality as that which is manifested through our engagements with others. I open up a space for thinking about sexual consent as sexual negotiation - the rhetorical expressions that come into being (or do not come into being) through relational - and sexual - engagements with others. This study finds that the ways in which subjects negotiate sexual play with other subjects may be part of a more open, ongoing, and indeterminate process that cannot be marked by the rationality and identification of a name. I attempt to move beyond a closed discourse of consent, to a more open theory of negotiation.


© 2010, Larissa Amber Brian