Sara Burgess

Sarah Burgess

Associate Professor

Full-Time Faculty
Kalmanovitz Hall 343


Sarah Burgess is an Associate Professor in Communication Studies, Gender and Sexualities Studies, and Critical Diversity Studies. Working at the intersections of rhetorical theory, political theory, legal theory, philosophy, and gender and sexualities studies, she examines the rhetorical contours of recognition in order to understand the possibilities and limits of justice. She recently edited a special issue of Philosophy & Rhetoric that brought together authors from several disciplines to explore how practices and theories of recognition operate rhetorically. Her current book project, Making a Scene: Scandals of Legal Recognition, draws our attention to the ways we might establish and critique the scenes of address in and through which legal demands for recognition are made.

Research Areas

  • Rhetorical theory
  • Continental philosophy
  • Legal theory
  • Gender and sexualities studies
  • Theories of recognition


  • PhD/MA, Rhetoric, University of California, Berkeley
  • MA/BA, Communication Studies, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Awards & Distinctions

  • USF Gender Justice Award, 2012
  • Law, Culture, and the Humanities Junior Scholar Award, 2008

Selected Publications

  • Burgess, S. and Murray, S.J. “Ashley Smith: Between Carceral Biocitizenship and Scenes of Legal Sovereignty.” In Biocitizenship: Somatic Subjects, Embodied Sociality, and Lively Politics, Eds. Kelly Happe, Jenell Johnson, and Marina Levina. NYU Press (forthcoming 2016).
  • Burgess, S., ed. “Special Issue: The Rhetorical Contours of Recognition.” Philosophy & Rhetoric 48.4 (2015): 369-600.
  • Burgess, S. “Introduction.” Philosophy & Rhetoric 48.4 (2015): 369-78.
  • Burgess, S. “Exposing the Ruins of Law: The Rhetorical Contours of Recognition’s Demand.” Philosophy & Rhetoric 48.4 (2015): 516-535.
  • Burgess, S. and Murray, S.J. “Cutting Both Ways: On the Ethical Entanglements of Human Rights, Rites, and Genital Mutilation.” American Journal of Bioethics 15:2 (Feb. 2015): 50-51.
  • Burgess, S. “The Sovereign Claims from Within: The Rhetorical Displacement of Bodies in Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl.” Journal for the Study of Law, Culture, and the Humanities (2015): 1-10. DOI: 10.1177/174387211557864
  • Burgess, S. “Obscene Demands.” Philosophy and Rhetoric 46. 3 (2013): 351-59.
  • Burgess, S. “Foucault's Rhetorical Challenge to Law." Journal of International Law in Context 8.2 (2012): 297-310.
  • Burgess, S. and Murray, S. J. “Delinquent Life: Forensic Psychiatry and Neoliberal Politics.” In Power and the Psychiatric Apparatus: Repression, Transformation and Assistance, edited by D. Holmes, J.-D. Jacob & A. Perron. Surrey, England: Ashgate Publishing, 2014. 135-45.
  • Burgess, S. "The Politics of Medico-Legal Recognition: The Terms of Gendered Subjectivity in the UK Gender Recognition Act.” In Critical Interventions in the Ethics of Healthcare, edited by Stuart J. Murray and Dave Holmes. Surrey, England: Ashgate Publishing, 2009. 147-62.
  • Burgess, S. “Transitional Bodies of Law: The Demand for Recognition in the United Kingdom’s Gender Recognition Act.” Engaging Argument: Papers from the 14th Biennial Conference on Argumentation. Ed. Patricia Riley. Washington DC: National Communication Association. 2007. 286-292.