Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Rhetorics, Communication, and Information Design
Dr. Steven B. Katz, Committee Chair
Dr. Cynthia Haynes
Dr. Todd May
Dr. Beth Lauritis
The Guilty Breast: A Fleshy Semiotics takes up the subject of the nude female breast, from St. Augustine's developing and a shifting semiotic theory of signs and the flesh in Christian doctrine through feminist theories and Foucault's analysis of the scientific â€œGazeâ€ to the protests of breastfeeding on social media, such as Facebook and Instagram, and in the public sphere. The dissertation argues that boobs teach us how to see by examining the breast's semiotic anatomy in five parts. â€œChapter One: Nippleâ€ asserts that breasts are bothâ€¦and: maternal and sexual, subjective and objective, metaphoric and actual. â€œChapter Two: Cleavageâ€ juxtaposes St. Augustine with French feminist HÃ©lÃ¨ne Cixous to reveal their shared life project of making â€œthe signâ€ (and substance) of the guilty bodyâ€”and by extension/ostension, female breastsâ€”morally good. â€œChapter Three: Milkâ€ â€œmanglesâ€ and disrupts â€œthe Gazeâ€ of biological theory by dripping thirst, claiming that leaking itself is onto-epistemological. â€œChapter Four: Areolaâ€ highlights social media's censorship of breastfeeding to explore socially constructed borders. â€œChapter Five: Ductsâ€ investigates two political examples of breasts-as-weapon. â€œChapter Six: Supportâ€ offers â€œbreast semioticsâ€ as a new hermeneutic by which to read nude female breast texts via the plurality of bodies and concludes with a visual example.
Ramler, Mari Elena, "The Guilty Breast: A Fleshy Semiotics" (2017). All Dissertations. 1935.