Larissa Brian receives a dissertation award from GSWS

The Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies Program has announced Larissa Brian as the winner of the 2018-2019 GSWS Dissertation Prize Competition for her dissertation, “Undoing the Scene of Sex: Affirmative Consent and the Limits of Recognition in Law’s Imaginary.” 


The review committee noted: “It provides a thorough, and refreshingly nuanced discussion of the controversial topic of ‘affirmative consent.’  The writer offers a clear and well-researched summary of the legal and feminist debates on this topic.  It clearly articulates the theoretical and mythological contributions it aims to make with its adaptation of rhetorical analysis, which adds a new and important dimension.  We were most fascinated by the project’s theorization of the ‘scene’ of sex and the relationships among consent, language, and theories of recognition.” 


In addition, the prize committee found scholarly value in the author’s contribution of rhetorical theory to the field of critical sexuality studies, underscoring the following passage in the dissertation:  

“Undoing sex is, indeed, a rhetorical practice, and one that will allow us to draw upon scenes of sex as experiential and discursive phenomena that are never cleaved from the terms of law that name and bind them.”


Larissa Brian graduated with her PhD in Rhetoric and Communication in April 2019.  She is currently Assistant Teaching Professor in the Department of Communication Arts & Sciences at Penn State University.