Isaac West

Associate Professor
PhD, Indiana University
127 Becker Communication Studies Building
Office Hours: 
Tues & Thurs 9:00A -10:30A
Curriculum Vitae: 
Research Interests: 
rhetorical, legal, cultural, and queer studies

My research program revolves around questions of gender, sexuality, and citizenship. Although my doctoral training is in communication and cultural studies, my work has always been interdisciplinary and conversant with various branches of legal studies. My book, Transforming Citizenships: Transgender Articulations of the Law (Sexual Cultures Series, NYU Press, <> ), is representative of my commitment to interanimating legal studies with queer, gender, communication, and cultural studies. In Transforming Citizenships, I contextualize transgender claims of citizenship to demonstrate how they queering legal norms and conventions. By reframing citizenship as a performative identity or as performatively produced, meaning that it is a speech act with the potential to enact dissident meanings and transform these discourses as they are invoked and embodied, we are obliged to calibrate our judgments about the normative forces of citizenship against a more dynamic model of meaning-making. Put another way, when transpeople act as citizens, they are simultaneously enacting familiar scripts and language, yet in the process of making these demands they are transforming the meaning of citizenship itself and thereby exposing the fragility and malleability of norms and intelligibility.

My second book project, Queering Civil Rights, is concerned with the last seventy years of LGBTQ civil rights advocacy in the United States. Queering Civil Rights is an extension of my first book in that I remain interested in how LGBTQs articulate themselves as citizens and challenge their exclusion from dominant rights imaginaries in the United States. Unlike my first book, however, I want to focus more broadly on the development, circulation, and evolution of the discursive framework of civil rights as one of the ways in which LGBTQs understand themselves as individuals, collective political actors, and citizens.