Off-campus UMass Amherst users: To download campus access dissertations, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your UMass Amherst user name and password.

Non-UMass Amherst users: Please talk to your librarian about requesting this dissertation through interlibrary loan.

Dissertations that have an embargo placed on them will not be available to anyone until the embargo expires.

Author ORCID Identifier


Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Rebecca Dingo

Second Advisor

Asha Nadkarni

Third Advisor

Julio Capó

Subject Categories

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies


“Lisa Ben and Queer Rhetorical Reeducation in Post-war Los Angeles” combines historiography and queer rhetorical analysis to examine the ways that discourse circulated and rhetorically educated audiences and readers about homosexuality in post-war Los Angeles, California (and the wider United States), a time and place that was influenced by dominant discourses around censorship, morality, and nationalism. I examine historical documents, such as newspaper articles, song lyrics, films and plays, and magazine articles, and I put these in conversation with multiple texts by one woman: Lisa Ben. Ben is a figurehead in this dissertation because she endeavored to rhetorically reeducate readers and audiences about the sexological and homophobic discourses that circulated in her lifetime (1921-2015). By arguing that Ben performs queer rhetorical reeducation through generating and circulating texts that both critique and disrupt dominant discourses around “the homosexual,” my dissertation engages queer rhetorical analysis to extend feminist recovery efforts and thus reads Ben’s writing as a move to rhetorically educate readers in the context of strict rules for discourse circulation about sexuality. I argue that Lisa Ben interrupts the dissemination of dominant discourses about homosexuality by circulating alternative texts that expose and critique power within discourses about normality and abnormality, offering a queer alternative to such messages, and putting that alternative into circulation. Finally, I extend this queer rhetorical reeducation to today, imagining how I and other queer historians, rhetorical scholars, and creatives may carry the torch of queer rhetorical reeducation in the future by historicizing Lisa Ben and her rhetorical contributions.


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 License.