Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair

Daniel Smith

Committee Member 1

Charlene Seigfried

Committee Member 2

William McBride


Taking LGBTIA+ experiences as the starting point for theorizing, I propose that pragmatic methodologies ameliorate several problems that queer theory encounters in defining queer subjectivity. The challenge is that any definition of queer selfhood must simultaneously (i) elude essential or fixed definitions of the subject, gender, and the relationship between them, and nonetheless (ii) enable efficacious political action and recognition. Utilizing the work of John Dewey and Jane Addams, I argue that the social self provides a beneficial framework for accommodating and celebrating queer lives. Adopting a pragmatic methodology emphasizes the irreducible plurality of perspectives and develops theory out of and ultimately accountable to practice. When we combine pragmatic methodologies with queer concerns, we not only celebrate the queerness of LGBTIA+ individuals, but we further realize that to be a self at all is to be queer. That is, the social nature of the self means that it can destabilize the very social institutions and relations that enable, guide, and constrain its projects; we bear the potential to queer the norms that situate and define us.