Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Global and Sociocultural Studies

First Advisor's Name

Dr. Benjamin Smith

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Dr. Mark Padilla

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Third Advisor's Name

Dr. Sheilla Rodriguez Madera

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Dr. Meg Gardinier

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member


Queer, Homonormativity, Space, Universities

Date of Defense



Spaces of higher education are often over-simplified in social science discourse, but their histories and evolutions are anything but straightforward. As colleges and universities have developed from institutions of religious social order to sites of perceived tolerance and exploration, they have also emerged as significant queer spaces. Indeed, some institutions of higher learning have even gained reputations for being particularly “LGBTQ+-friendly” safe spaces. Yet it is important to understand the social, political, moral and economic underpinnings upon which these establishments have been built and desire to uphold. Despite efforts to promote inclusivity, university spaces are also situated within an intricate web of normative powers that tend to keep identities “in their place”. Utilizing a queer intersectional approach, this dissertation examines how heteronormative and homonormative powers are produced, felt and challenged by queer students in university spaces, as well as the programs those institutions provide. The aims of this study are (1) to uncover the normative discourses of power that inform queer higher educational spaces and experiences (2) to determine how homonormative imaginations of queer identities and spaces are disseminated to, reproduced by and resisted by diverse queer student populations, and (3) to discover existing and new ways to make higher educational spaces safer and better for queer students.





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