Larissa Brian wins Dissertation Prize

GSWS congratulates Dr. Larissa Brian, winner of the program’s 2019 Dissertation Prize.

Brian graduated in spring 2019 with a PhD in Rhetoric and Communication (in the Department of Communication at Pitt, with a GSWS Doctoral certificate). Her dissertation was supervised by Dr. Lester Olson, chair, and committee members Dr. Brent Malin, Dr. David Marshall, Dr. Lynn Clarke, and Dr. Erik Doxtader (outside member, Univ. of South Carolina).

Brian’s dissertation, “Undoing the Scene of Sex: Affirmative Consent and the Limits of Recognition in Law’s Imaginary,” seeks to shape the field of feminist and sexuality studies by offering critical perspectives on affirmative sexual consent that have not heretofore been addressed.  Drawing upon continental philosophy, rhetorical theory, and feminist/queer analysis, this project troubles over newly promulgated affirmative consent laws that are being implemented on college campuses, revealing how the law’s vision of “yes means yes” turns on its own promise of redress.  On a broader scale, this work demonstrates the ways in which legal doctrines of consent foreclose the very possibilities for ethical sexual encounters that they allege to open.  

Currently, Dr. Brian holds a position as Assistant Teaching Professor in the Department of Communication at Penn State University, where she teaches courses in Public Speaking and Rhetoric.  Formerly, she has taught courses in several Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies departments (Pitt’s included) on Feminist Theory, Sex, Law, and Desire, and the Politics of Sexuality.  She is at work completing an article on the politics of pleasure under the rule of Alabama’s Anti-Obscenity Law, which was funded by a research grant from the Organization for Research on Women and Communication.  Her most recent journal publication appears in Feminist Media Studies, and she is also working on a book manuscript derived from her dissertation.