Date of Award

Fall 11-16-2012

Degree Type

Closed Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Calvin Thomas

Second Advisor

Christopher Kocela

Third Advisor

Margaret Mills Harper


My dissertation looks at the connections between Lacan’s four discourses and the sexuation graph in order to claim that sexuation is discursive and that, as Lacan presents it with the phallus as its quilting point, the sexuation graph is a narrative based on patriarchal hegemony, which is one of many possible narratives. I argue that through the hysteric’s discourse and a removal of the phallus as the Symbolic-Imaginary quilting point, we can begin to formulate new narratives of sexuated subjectivities. The textual objects I use for this project are literary and filmic works where women are the central topic or figure, and the works are all created and developed by men. Following Kristeva’s focus on the semiotic, in particular men’s avant-garde writing, I choose these works as illustrations of the ways in which the depiction of women has shifted in the wake of at least half a century of feminist and queer scholarship and activism. Grounded in Lacan’s claim that “Woman does not exist,” I explicate Woman as metaphor as an Imaginary construction of masculinist logic in order to develop a theory of Woman as metonymy that collapses the oppressive, Imaginary constructions and proliferations of Woman. Finally, I read closely Lacan’s sexuation graph, specifically turning it sideways and replacing the phallus with the general, empty master signifier to show the ways in which we can construct new meanings of subjectivity.