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date: 20 October 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Embodiment has long been of interest to scholars of language in society, and yet theoretical discussions of the inseparability of language and the body have been paradoxically minimal until quite recently. Focusing on the processes by which sexualized bodies are understood, this chapter examines two research case studies—intersex bodies and male bodies—to outline the ways that language and sexuality scholarship can contribute to knowledge of the confluence of the social and the soma during social interaction. Bodies are both subjective and social: in one sense we have subjective, embodied knowledge of what it means to live in our sexualized bodies and “speak from” them as part of lived experience, and in another sense our bodies are also observed from outside and “spoken about” as sexual. The analysis presented here explores the relationship between physical features of bodies, discourse, language, and power, and links these insights to notions of confluence, demonstrating that bodies can be unruly, obtrusive, overdetermined, and excessive. The chapter considers the implications of this analysis for language use, intelligibility, and sexual agency.

Keywords: discourse, embodiment, intersex, lived experience, male bodies, sexuality

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