The Rhetoric of Sexual Exchange
182 | CCN: 77962
Instructor: Olivia Custer
Date / Time: TuTh 330-5P, 209 DWINELLE
California recently made headlines as it wrote into law a shift from “no means no” to “yes means yes” as a standard for consent in cases of sexual assault. This course will provide some historical, conceptual, and rhetorical tools for a critical appraisal of this shift.
Our investigation of the forensic importance of consent will begin with an analysis of the foundational scenes of consent in Rousseau’s Social Contract and Kant’s Doctrine of Right. In the second part of the course, we will take cues from Foucault’s History of Sexuality, to explore the relations between models of language, theories of subjectivity, economies of exchange, frameworks of law, and experiences of sexuality. We will draw on philosophy, anthropology, literature, critical theory and contemporary discourse in the public sphere, to collect arguments and axioms, but also scenes, characters, and images, through which to think about sexual violence. Focusing on the relation of sexual violence to language, we will consider the possibilities, and stakes, of “affirmative consent”.