Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



Demisexuality is defined as a sexuality in which a person does not experience sexual attraction towards others unless they first form a strong emotional bond. It is typically positioned halfway between asexuality and normative sexuality (allosexuality) but is considered part of the asexual spectrum. I argue that due to its unique positioning between asexuality and allosexuality, demisexuality provides new avenues for understanding and exploring asexuality and what it means to be queer. Moreover, the liminality of demisexuality allows for a fuller exploration of marginalized bodies whose sexuality has not always found a home in queer theory. Chapter one explores the paradoxical role of asexuality in contemporary culture and literary tropes that mimic elements of demisexuality. It includes mainstream romance novels like E. L. James’ Fifty Shades of Grey and demisexual romance novels like Jack Byrne’s Ace. Chapter two explores the relation between asexuality and disability in Tennessee Williams’ plays The Glass Menagerie and Summer and Smoke, reading Laura and Alma as demisexual. The final chapter explores the relation between queer theory and black studies utilizing Gayl Jones’ Corregidora. By reading Corregidora through a demisexual lens, I dismantle binary understandings of asexuality and allosexuality that fail to account for differences of temporality in black women’s literature.



Committee Chair

Benjamin Kahan

Available for download on Wednesday, July 10, 2030