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 to modern-day social and cultural practices and contexts.
Chapter 1: Subjectivity, Identity and Desire
Subjectivity, Identity and Desire
‘The question of “the subject” ‘, Butler writes in the first chapter of Gender Trouble, ‘is crucial for politics’ (1990: 2). The explicit departure point for Butler's interrogation of the relation between subjectivity and identity is the discussion, in that text, of the extent to which there is a universal basis for feminist politics. Specifically, the issue she addresses is whether or not the presumption of a series of identities or categories (women, feminism, masculinity, patriarchy, the West), consistent and continuous across historical periods and various cultural sites and contexts, can be justified. Her point is that any feminist political project cannot simply presume or take for granted the terms through which it acts, since such terms (and ...