Award Date

December 2016

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Committee Member

Barbara Brents

Second Committee Member

Michael I. Borer

Third Committee Member

Kathryn Hausbeck Korgan

Fourth Committee Member

Jill McCracken

Fifth Committee Member

Olesya Venger

Number of Pages



This dissertation looks at how marginalized people experience embodiment in intellectual spaces. By looking at the experiences of twenty current and former sex workers in academia, I find that individual actors practice two kinds of embodiment, what I label 1) fragmented (consciously separating erotic and intellectual work) and 2) confluent embodiment (making erotic and intellectual work more confluent). I find that embodiment practices change depending on the social context in which they occur. My findings expand the literature on embodiment and sociologies of the body for a more robust and fluid definition of the ways individual actors practice and reflect on their own embodiment. By looking at how current and former sex workers in academia talk about 1) why they entered academia and their expectations there, 2) the experiences that constrain their ability to do intellectual work, and 3) the way they resist constraints in academia, I find that individual actors simultaneously inscribe and resist classical dualisms put forth by 18th century philosopher Rene Descartes. I furthermore find that interviewees’ reflections on their fragmented embodiment practices, practices that mirror Cartesian dualisms, expand sociological concepts of “disembodiment” for a more agential and fluid understanding of embodiment. By utilizing an Arts Based Research format, my work also resists the traditional writing structures of academia that have, historically, positioned authors and researchers as subjects while rendering their readers passive objects.


academia; alternative methods; embodiment; gender; sexuality; sex work



File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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