Joseph Fischel is a theorist of social and sexual justice. His research on the regulation of sex, gender, and sexuality traverses normative political theory, queer studies, and critical race and feminist legal theory. His first two books interrogate consent as the magnetizing, dominant metric of modern sex law and late modern sexual ethics. Sex and Harm in the Age of Consent (University of Minnesota Press, 2016) argues that the sociolegal figures of the recidivistic sex offender, the innocent child and the heroic homosexual invest consent with its normative power while obfuscating more pervasive but less perceptible forms of sexual injury and gendered violence. Sex and Harm in the Age of Consent won the 2017 Foundations in Political Theory First Book Award from the American Political Science Association.
Fischel’s second book, Screw Consent: A Better Politics of Sexual Justice (University of California Press, 2019) explores cases of atypical and non-normative sex in order to scaffold a sexual ethics less beholden to consent for what we think of as the “ordinary” couple form. His third book project, Sodomitical Justice: A Solicitation (forthcoming in the Sexuality Series of Temple University Press) examines the life and afterlife of sodomy law in New Orleans and beyond to reconsider the centrality of sex—in contradistinction to race, gender or sexuality—for liberal and neoliberal governance.
Fischel co-edited Enticements: Queer Legal Studies, with University of Toronto law professor Brenda Cossman. The volume will be published in 2024 with NYU Press.
Fischel has written articles for the Boston Review, Slate, Huffington Post, Bilerico, and The Feminist Wire, as well as for academic journals including Contemporary Political Theory, differences, Law, Culture & the Humanities, the Journal of Homosexuality, and Studies in Gender & Sexuality. His work has been published in several law and gender journals as well. His co-authored article, “Disabling Consent, or Reconstructing Sexual Autonomy” (Columbia Journal of Gender & Law), on the promises and possibilities of regulating sex and sexual assault across the spectrum of ability, won the 2016 Cynthia Weber Sexuality & Politics Best Conference Paper Award from the American Political Science Association.
Fischel received his PhD from the Political Science Department at the University of Chicago in 2011. His dissertation, which developed into his first book, was supported by coursework, mentorship, and/or fellowships from the Political Science Department, the University of Chicago Law School, and the Center for the Study of Gender & Sexuality. His dissertation received the 2012 Julian Mezey Best Dissertation Award from the Association of the Study of Law, Culture and the Humanities.
Fischel is an avid fan of beaches, Orangetheory, and mediocre television.