Communication ETDs

Publication Date



Using rhetorical criticism informed by actor-network theory (ANT), in this dissertation I explore the emergence of queer identity and queer community building within the Objectùm Sexuality Internationale Web site (OSI)--the largest source of information related to a community of over 300 hundred individuals who experience emotional and romantic desire towards objects. My goals in this study are (1) to identify and understand how rhetorical strategies are emergent and networked (rather than individually enacted) within the OSI Web site; and (2) how these emergent rhetorical strategies promote multiplicity of sexual desire and identity through the challenging of heteronormative and anthropocentric binaries and normativities via queer posthuman forms of love and connection. Using an ANT informed rhetorical criticism, I identified four layers of communication that facilitate the emergence of actor networks within the OSI Web site: (1) translation--the process by which human actors depict experience in texts); (2) enactment--the process by which actors (human and object) interact in ways that create networks of action and agency); (3) representation--the process in which certain macroactors (actors that appear as recurring and stable categories) present the interests of other actors within the network); and (4) teleaction--the movement of representations from place to place and over time through memory and text. Within these layers, I identified four categories of translation, thirteen macroactors, and four types of teleaction. The translations that emerge on the OSI Web site include how objectùm sexuality became a term and community, what it means to be objectùm sexual, how people who identify as objectùm sexual have come to make sense of their experiences, and public pleas for acceptance regarding objectùm sexuality. The macroactors that emerge include people, communication devices, purposes of OSI, orientation, animism, sensuality/intimacy, nonverbal communication, love, gender, attraction, marriage, medicalization, and the Red Fence. The processes of teleaction that emerge include verbal, nonverbal, hybrid, and symbolic actors. These four layers then led to the emergence of four higher-level rhetorical dimensions. These include: (1) terminological dimension-- the interrelationship between terms and the OS community; (2) ontological dimension--the emergence of a higher-level philosophy about the existence of beings and the meanings and modes of being, existing, living, and loving for OS; (3) axiological dimension--the emergence of criteria for ethical values and judgments in relation to OS; and (4) epistemological dimension--where the dimensions of ontology and terminology meet and the nature and scope of knowledge about OS is represented. Together, these four transcendent levels facilitate the rhetorical construction of the OS community and critiques of heteronormative/anthropocentric frames of love, desire, and sexuality. Overall, these various strategies lead to two larger rhetorical moves: (1) OSI communicates and adapts to internal and external audiences; and (2) OSI rhetoric moves from specific meanings to larger paradigmatic shifts that reveal is function as a social movement within a single rhetorical text. This process of rhetorical strategy building positions OS within intelligible frameworks of understanding in order to: (1) provide information about OS that will mitigate fear and sensationalism and facilitate acceptance; (2) construct an OSI community identity and human-object desire more generally; and (3) direct people away from heteronormative and anthropocentric worldviews and toward a queer posthuman worldviews of love, desire, and connection.




objectum sexuality, queer theory, posthuman, actor-network theory, rhetorical criticism

Document Type


Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

Department of Communication and Journalism

First Advisor

Foss, Karen A.

First Committee Member (Chair)

Littlejohn, Stephen W.

Second Committee Member

Chavez, Karma R.

Third Committee Member

Eguchi, Shinsuke