Understanding Judith Butler
Publication Year: 2011
Acknowledged as one of the most influential thinkers of modern times, an understanding of Judith Butler's work is ever more essential to an understanding of not just the landscape of cultural and critical theory, but of the world around us. Understanding Judith Butler, however, can be perceived as a complex and difficult undertaking.
It needn't be. Using contemporary and topical examples from the media, popular culture and everyday life, this lively and accessible introduction shows how the issues, concepts, and theories in Butler's work function as socio-cultural practices.
Giving due consideration to Butler's earlier and most recent work, and showing how her ideas on subjectivity, gender, sexuality and language overlap and interrelate, this book gives a better understanding not only of Butler's work, but of its applications ...
- Front Matter
- Back Matter
- Subject Index
© Anita Brady and Tony Schirato 2011
First published 2011
Apart from any fair dealing for the purposes of research or private study, or criticism or review, as permitted under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988, this publication may be reproduced, stored or transmitted in any form, or by any means, only with the prior permission in writing of the publishers, or in the case of reprographic reproduction, in accordance with the terms of licences issued by the Copyright Licensing Agency. Enquiries concerning reproduction outside those terms should be sent to the publishers.
SAGE Publications Ltd
1 Oliver's Yard
55 City Road
London EC1Y 1SP
SAGE Publications Inc.
2455 Teller Road
Thousand Oaks, California 91320
SAGE Publications India Pvt Ltd
B 1/I 1 Mohan Cooperative Industrial Area
New Delhi 110 044
SAGE Publications Asia-Pacific Pte Ltd
33 Pekin Street #02-01
Far East Square
Library of Congress Control Number: 2010925733
British Library Cataloguing in Publication data
A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library
ISBN 978-1-84787-608-9 (pbk)
Typeset by C&M Digitals (P) Ltd, Chennai, India
Printed by CPI Antony Rowe, Chippenham, Wiltshire
Printed on paper from sustainable resources
- Anaclisis: Freudian notion whereby the initial instinct of self-preservation (sucking the breast for nourishment) is used as a kind of prop by the sexual instincts.
- Bio-power: for Foucault, the process by which power and knowledge works to dispose and regulate bodies.
- Bodily hexis: the forms of bodies, and bodily movements and deportment, that are commensurate with, authorised by, and appropriately reflect the values of, a cultural field.
- Butch-femme: a type of lesbian relationship in which one partner identifies with nominally masculine traits (the butch), and the other partner identifies with nominally feminine traits (the femme). Butch-femme has a specific social and political history, and is not reducible to an imitation of heterosexuality.
- Camp: sensibility or gender performance characterised by artifice, irony and stylisation, and often associated with gay men.
- Constructivism, constructionism: the notion that social or bodily traits often represented as natural are in fact socially and culturally produced. Usually positioned as the opposite of essentialism.
- Critique, critical inquiry: a space opened up by the testing of reality in order to evaluate the possibility and desirability of change, and determine the forms it will take.
- Cultural field: is a concept taken from Bourdieu; it can be defined as a set of institutions, rules, categories, discourses, dispositions, forms of capital [Page 138]and practices which form an objective hierarchy, and which produce and authorise identities.
- Desire: for Hegel desire is understood as, or stands in for, reflexive consciousness, whereby consciousness seeks to know and comprehend itself through the mediation of otherness. Psychoanalysis posits desire as something that is sent away or repressed in order that the subject can exist; however repressed desire always returns without overtly manifesting or articulating itself, for instance in dreams. Desire for Nietzsche and Deleuze is the will manifested as the affirmation of life-as-force. For Foucault desire is, first and foremost, a name with a history; in other words, its status is fundamentally discursive.
- Discourse: a kind of language that is specific to, and authorised by, cultural fields, and which categorises the world.
- Essentialism: the idea that there is a necessary connection between the body and certain dispositions and forms of behaviour.
- Ethics: understood as a necessary and consistent correlation between a subject's values, accounts and practices.
- Foreclosure: the process whereby a subject's bodily dispositions and forms of identification are constrained as a consequence of non-normative alternatives being rendered unthinkable.
- Gender: a set of bodily characteristics, values, desires, orientations, practices and typologies that are tied, through the operations of power, to the categories of male and female. According to Butler, feminist theory has tended to position gender as something one has, whereas she argues gender is something one does.
- Genealogy: the attempt to trace and locate the moments and sites when power produces and naturalises meaning or sense.
- Habitus: a set of dispositions, values and ways of seeing derived from our cultural trajectories, and which generate practices. Bourdieu characterises it as ‘history naturalised’. [Page 139]
- Heteronormativity: the naturalisation of heterosexual desire as the norm. Butler argues that this also naturalises gender categories.
- Hyperbolic mimicry: the citation and reproduction of an authorised gender performance as exaggeration or excess.
- Identity: the subject takes on an identity within processes of discursive designation and location: the body-as-content is designated as being commensurate, or otherwise, with regard to socio-cultural and/or scientific categories, and is thus inscribed in terms of certain meanings, values, dispositions, orientations and narratives.
- Incest taboo: the social prohibition that forbids sexual relations between close relatives.
- Interpellation: refers to the process whereby power calls, addresses and categorises subjects.
- Melancholia: is conventionally characterised in psychoanalysis as nonfunctional grieving. The melancholic subject psychically refuses to acknowledge the loss of the love-object, and may withdraw from the world, responsibilities, and regard for the self or others.
- Mourning: is characterised as a relatively functional and non-pathological response to a loss.
- Normalisation, norms: the association of bodily exemplars and typologies with authorised meanings, narratives and values in order to discipline, dispose and orient subjects.
- Parrhesia: the Greek concept of parrhesia or ‘free speech’ can be dated to the fifth century bc. It refers both to a type of content (the parrhesiastes provides a full and candid account of the subject's thoughts and opinions on a particular matter), and a form of relationship (the purpose is not to use rhetorical devices to persuade, but rather to demonstrate to interlocutors that there is a corollary between one's words and one's beliefs and actions). [Page 140]
- Performativity: linguistic performativity refers to speech acts that effect what they announce (‘I dare you’; ‘I sentence you’). Butler adapts this into a theory of gender performativity whereby certain announcements or performances of gender produce the effects they seem to describe (the announcement ‘It's a girl’ inaugurates the process of girling). Central to the theory of gender performativity are the mechanisms of citation and repetition.
- Queer: in queer theory, queer usually refers to the use and performance of categories of sex, gender and sexuality in ways that disturb their taken-for-granted meanings. Queer performances are not outside those categories of identity; they use frameworks of identity against themselves in order to expose their contradictions, and the operations of power that sustain those categories.
- Reflexivity: to think at, and through, limits that are constitutive of how we come to see, categorise, understand and relate to the world and to ourselves.
- Sex: the two primary discursive categories (male and female) that render a body recognisable as a subject.
- Sex/gender distinction: an influential framework in feminist theory that posits sex as the natural/biological differences between men and women, and gender as the cultural meanings attached to those differences. Butler critiques this distinction, and argues that both sex and gender are discursively produced.
- Sexuality: libidinal regimes, orientations, dispositions and practices. In Western culture these are often understood as constituting an identity (so a man's sexual desire for another man constitutes him as a homosexual), an understanding that Foucault argues is a product of particular discursive regimes.
- Subject: the result of a process involving the reiteration of discourses, performances and narratives of, and the repeated confirmation of relations of value regarding, the body, that make that body potentially visible and recognisable as a coherent set of forms, categories and meanings. [Page 141]
- Subjection: Butler refers to the situation where the subject is not only constituted through and dominated by, but also remains necessarily tied to and reliant on, the practices and discourses of power, as a form of subjection.
- Symbolic violence: the techniques, discourses and regimes of practice whereby the other is dehumanised or rendered abject.
- Transgender: often used as an umbrella term that includes any body, gender performance, or gender identification that is at odds with, or deliberately critiques, the binary understanding of sex as either male or female. This may include (but is not limited to): transsexuals, drag queens and kings, transvestites, tomboys, butches and femmes, intersex people, and cross-dressers.
Bibliography[Page 142]Abelove, H. et al. (eds) (1993) The Lesbian and Gay Studies Reader. New York: Routledge.2009) ‘Could This Women's World Champ Be a Man?’, TIME, 21 August. Last accessed 16 March 2010, available at http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1917767,00.html#ixzz0iJ9srV5A.(1977) Lenin and Philosophy and Other Essays. London: New Left Books.(1972) Homosexuals: Oppression and Liberation. Sydney: Angus and Robertson.(1997) Modernity at Large. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.(1962) How To Do Things With Words. Oxford: Oxford University Press.(1970) Philosophical Papers (J. Urmson & G. Warnock (eds)). Oxford: Oxford University Press.(1973) The Second Sex (trans. E.Parshley). New York: Vintage Books.(1995) Feminist Contentions. New York: Routledge.et al. (1991) Postmodern Theory. London: Macmillan.& (1990) Outline of a Theory of Practice (trans. R.Nice). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.(1993) The Field of Cultural Production. Cambridge: Polity Press.(1998a) On Television and Journalism. London: Pluto Press.(1998b) The State Nobility. Cambridge: Polity Press.(2000) Pascalian Meditations (trans. R.Nice). Cambridge: Polity Press.(2001) Masculine Domination. Cambridge: Polity Press.(2004) Science of Science and Reflexivity (trans. R.Nice). Cambridge: Polity Press.(1995) Free Exchange. Cambridge: Polity Press.& (1992) An Invitation to Reflexive Sociology. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.& (2009) ‘Bruno’, http://guardian.co.uk, 10 July. Last accessed 16 March 2010, available at http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2009/jul/10/film-review-bruno.(1991) The Foucault Effect. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.et al. (1987) Subjects of Desire. New York: Columbia University Press.([Page 143]1990) Gender Trouble. New York: Routledge.(1991) ‘Imitation and Gender Insubordination’, Inside/Out: Lesbian Theories, Gay Theories. New York: Routledge.(1993) Bodies That Matter. New York: Routledge.(1997a) Excitable Speech. New York: Routledge.(1997b) The Psychic Life of Power. Stanford: Stanford University Press.(1997c) ‘Merely Cultural’, Social Texts, 15 (3/4).(1997d) ‘Against Proper Objects’, in E.Weed & N.Schor (eds), Feminism Meets Queer Theory. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.(1999) Gender Trouble (Anniversary Edition). New York: Routledge.(2000) Antigone's Claim. New York: Columbia University Press.(2004) Undoing Gender. New York: Routledge.(2005) Giving an Account of Oneself. New York: Fordham University Press. http://dx.doi.org/10.5422/fso/9780823225033.001.0001(2006) Precarious Life. London: Verso.(2009) Frames of War. London: Verso.(1994) ‘Cross-Identifications’, Diacritics, 24 (2/3). http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/465160& (2007) Who Sings the Nation State?London: Seagull Books.& (2000) Contingency, Hegemony, Universality. London: Verso.et al. (1991) The Normal and the Pathelogical (trans. C.Fawcett). New York: Zone Books.(2000) Relating Narratives (trans. P.Kottman). London: Routledge.(1988) The Practice of Everyday Life. Berkeley: University of California Press.(1991) ‘“Queer Theory”: Lesbian and Gay Sexualities’, Differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies3 (2).(1989) Anti-Oedipus (trans. R.Hurley et al.). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.and (1976) On Grammatology. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.(1982) Margins of Philosophy (trans. A.Bass). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.(1988) Limited Inc. Evanston: Northwestern University Press.(2009) ‘Bruno is a Product of Sacha Baron Cohen's Bourgeois Sexual Neuroses’, http://guardian.co.uk, 9 July. Last accessed 16 March 2010, available at http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/filmblog/2009/jul/09/bruno-sacha-baron-cohen.(2002) The Matter of Images. London: Routledge.(2009) ‘Biggest Issue Surrounding Semenya Remains Unanswered’, http://SI.com, 19 November. Last accessed 16 March 2010, available at http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2009/writers/david_epstein/11/19/caster.semenya/index.html.(2009) ‘Adam Lambert Delivers Raunchy AMA Performance Filled with Hip Thrusts, Crotch Grabs and a Makeout’, New York Daily News, 23 November. Last accessed 1 March 2010, available at http://www.dailynews.com/gossip,2009/11/23/2009-11-23_adam_lambert_delivers_raunchy_ama_performance_filled_with_hip_thrusts_crotch_gr.html.([Page 144]1972) The Archaeology of Knowledge (trans. A. SheridanSmith). New York: Tavistock.(1973) The Order of Things. New York: Vintage Books.(Foucault, M. (ed.) (1980a) Herculine Barbin (trans. R.McDougall). New York: Colophon.1980b) Power/Knowledge (trans. C.Gordon et al.). New York: Pantheon Books.(1986) The Use of Pleasure (trans. R.Hurley). New York: Vintage Books.(1988) The Care of the Self (trans. R.Hurley). New York: Vintage Books.(1991) The Foucault Reader (P. Rabinow (ed.)). London: Penguin.(1995) Discipline and Punish (trans. A.Sheridan). New York: Vintage Books.(1997) Ethics (P.Rabinow (ed.)). London: Penguin.(2001) Fearless Speech. Los Angeles: Semiotext(e).(2005) The Hermeneutics of the Subject (trans. G.Burchell). New York: Picador.(2007) The Politics of Truth (trans. L.Hochroth & C.Porter). Los Angeles: Semiotext(e).(2008) The History of Sexuality (trans. R.Hurley). London: Penguin.(1984) On Metapsychology (trans. A.Richards). Harmondsworth: Penguin.(1987) Case Histories 11 (trans. A.Richards). Harmondsworth: Penguin.(1989) Essentially Speaking. New York: Routledge.(Fuss, D. (ed.) (1991) Inside/Out. New York: Routledge.1989) Sexual Subversions. Sydney: Allen and Unwin.(1990) Jacques Lacan. Sydney: Allen and Unwin. http://dx.doi.org/10.4324/9780203330029(1995) Space, Time and Perversion. Sydney: Allen and Unwin.(Guardian (2009) ‘Caster Semenya Found “Innocent of Any Wrong” to Retain 800m Gold Medal’, http://guardian.co.uk, 19 November. Last accessed 16 March 2010, available at http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2009/nov/19/caster-semenya-athletics-south-africa.2003) Queer Theories. Basingstoke: Palgrave.(1995) Saint Foucault. New York: Oxford University Press.(2000) Profit and Pleasure. New York: Routledge.(2008) Judith Butler. London: Routledge.(1996) Queer Theory. Dunedin: Otago University Press.(1989) ‘Butch and Femme: Now and Then’, Not a Passing Phase, Lesbian History Group (eds). London: Women's Press.(1996) ‘Queerly Unconstrained’, Meanjin, 55 (1).([Page 145]2003) Unpacking Queer Politics. Cambridge: Polity Press.(1961) Metamorphosis and Other Stories (trans. M.Secker). Harmondsworth: Penguin.(1976) The Trial (trans. W.Muir & E.Muir). Harmondsworth: Penguin.(2004) ‘Questions for Queer Eyes’, Gay and Lesbian Review Worldwide, 11 (2).(1985) Reflections on Gender and Science. New Haven: Yale University Press.(2000) Queer Theory and Social Change. London: Routledge.(1986) Introduction to the Reading of Hegel (trans. J.Nichols). Ithaca: Cornell University Press.(1992) ‘The Body You Want’, Art Forum International, 81 (1).(1970) The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.(1977) Ecrits: A Selection (trans. A.Sheridan). New York: Norton.(1990) Life and Death in Psychoanalysis. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.(1988) The Language of Psychoanalysis (trans. D.Nicholson-Smith). London: Karnac Books.& (1986) The Political Forms of Modern Society. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.(2008) Judith Butler. Cambridge: Polity Press.(2004) ‘Wake Up, Britain: We Gays Have Moved On’, New Statesman, 30 August.(1994) ‘Sexualities without Gender and Other Queer Utopias’, Diacritics, 24 (2–3). http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/465167(Meyer, M. (ed.) (1994) The Politics and Poetics of Camp. London: Routledge.1995) ‘Birth of the Cyberqueer’, PMLA, 110 (3). http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/462933(1956) The Birth of Tragedy and The Genealogy of Morals (trans. F.Golffing). New York: Doubleday Anchor.(1999) ‘The Professor of Parody: The Hip Defeatism of Judith Butler’, The New Republic, 22 February.(2006) ‘Judith Butler: Queer Feminism, Transgender, and the Transubstantiation of Sex’, in S.Stryker & S.Whittle (eds), The Transgender Studies Reader. New York: Routledge.(Reiter, R. (ed.) (1975) Towards an Anthropology of Women. New York: Monthly Review Press.1975) ‘The Traffic in Women’, Towards an Anthropology of Women (R.Reiter (ed.). New York: Monthly Review Press.(1984) ‘Thinking Sex: Notes for a Radical Theory of the Politics of Sexuality’, in C.Vance (ed.), Pleasure and Danger. London: Routledge.(1990) Epistemology of the Closet. Berkeley: University of California Press.(1993) Tendencies. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. http://dx.doi.org/10.4324/9780203202210([Page 146]2003) A Critical Introduction to Queer Theory. New York: New York University Press.(2000) A Genealogy of Queer Theory. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.(2009) ‘How Adam Lambert is Hurting Gay Marriage’, The Huffington Post, 24 November. Last accessed 18 March, available at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jennifer-vanasco/why-adam-lambert-is-right_b_369274.html.(Vance, C. (ed.) (1984) Pleasure and Danger. New York: Routledge.Warner, M. (ed.) (1993) Fear of a Queer Planet. Minneapolis: Minnesota University Press.1999) The Trouble with Normal. New York: The Free Press.(1997) ‘Introduction’, Feminism Meets Queer Theory. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.(Weed, E. & Schor, N. (eds) (1997) Feminism Meets Queer Theory. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.1987) Feminist Practice and Poststructuralist Theory. Oxford: Blackwell.(1985) Sexuality and its Discontents. London: Routledge. http://dx.doi.org/10.4324/9780203407462(1997) ‘Feminism and Queer Theory: Allies or Antagonists’, Australian Feminist Studies, 12 (26). http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/08164649.1997.9994869(1980) ‘The Straight Mind’, Feminist Issues1 (1) Summer. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/BF02685561(1983) ‘The Point of View: Universal or Particular’, Feminist Issues3 (2) Fall. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/BF02685543(1996) The Indivisible Remainder. London: Verso.(1997) ‘Multiculturalism, or the Cultural Logic of Multinational Capitalism’, New Left Review, 225.(