Judith Butler b .1956

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Who is Judith Butler?

Judith Butler (1956-) is Professor of Comparative Literature and Rhetoric at the University of California, Berkeley, and is well known as a theorist of power, gender, sexuality and identity. Indeed, she is described in alt.Culture as "one of the superstars of '90s academia, with a devoted following of grad students nationwide".

Her Theory:

In 'Gender Trouble: Feminism and the subversion of Identity' Butler describe the ways in which socially constructed identities might be challenged by 'subversive bodily acts. Butler suggests that there is no "essence" to the self, only acts whose repetition constitute an identity that can be explored through a number of different subject positions. She argues that we all put on a gender performance, whether traditional or not, and so it is not a question of whether to do a gender performance, but what form that performance will take.

The Queer Theory:

To be queer' is to openly adopt a non-straight life, while 'to queer' is to estrange or defamiliarize identities, texts and attitudes which are taken for granted and assumed to have fixed meanings.

Such meanings are understood to endorse heterosexuality as a social-sexual norm. Queer theory emphasizes the contractedness, plurality and ambivalence of sexual identities. This makes heterosexuality one identity among others. It follows that sexual identities are malleable and a matter of choice or personal style.

key concepts: compulsory heterosexuality, gender, essentialism, homophobia, identity politics, perversions, sexuality, Otherness, performativity, transgression, resistance, freedom, and fluidity.

Foucault (body and history) Body is figured as a surface and the scene of a cultural inscription, the task of genealogy is to "expose a body totally imprinted by history." For Foucault, history in its essential and repressive gesture. He subscribes to a prediscursive multiplicity of bodily forces that break through the surface...