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1. Gender Trouble: Feminism and the
2. Precarious Life: The Powers of
3. Giving an Account of Oneself
4. The Judith Butler Reader
5. Excitable Speech: A Politics of
6. Undoing Gender
7. Frames of War: When Is Life Grievable?
8. Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive
9. The Psychic Life of Power: Theories
10. Antigone's Claim
11. Judith Butler: Live Theory
12. Judith Butler in Conversation:
13. Contingency, Hegemony, Universality:
14. Judith Butler and Political Theory:
15. Is Critique Secular?: Blasphemy,
16. Judith Butler: From Norms to Politics
17. Judith Butler: Sexual Politics,
18. Subjects of Desire
19. The Power of Religion in the Public
20. Who Sings the Nation-State?: Language,

1. Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (Routledge Classics)
by Judith Butler
Paperback: 272 Pages (2006-05-12)
list price: US$21.95 -- used & new: US$13.75
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Asin: 0415389550
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Since its publication in 1990, Gender Trouble has become one of the key works of contemporary feminist theory, and an essential work for anyone interested in the study of gender, queer theory, or the politics of sexuality in culture. This is the text where Judith Butler began to advance the ideas that would go on to take life as "performativity theory," as well as some of the first articulations of the possibility for subversive gender practices, and she writes in her preface to the 10th anniversary edition released in 1999 that one point of Gender Trouble was "not to prescribe a new gendered way of life [...] but to open up the field of possibility for gender [...]" Widely taught, and widely debated, Gender Trouble continues to offer a powerful critique of heteronormativity and of the function of gender in the modern world.Amazon.com Review
In a new introduction to the 10th-anniversary edition of Gender Trouble--among the two or three most influential books (and by far the most popular) in the field of gender studies--Judith Butler explains the complicated critical response to her groundbreaking arguments and the ways her ideas have evolved as a result. Nevertheless, she has resisted the urge to revise what has become a feminist classic (as well as an elegant defense of drag, given Butler's emphasis on the performative nature of gender). The book was produced, according to Butler, "as part of the cultural life of a collective struggle that has had, and will continue to have, some success in increasing the possibilities for a livable life for those who live, or try to live, on the sexual margins." An attack on the essentialism of French feminist theory and its basis in structuralist anthropology, Gender Trouble expands to address the cultural prejudices at play in genetic studies of sex determination, as well as the uses of gender parody, and also provides a critical genealogy of the naturalization of sex. A primer in gender studies--and sexy reading for college cafés. --Regina Marler ... Read more

Customer Reviews (26)

4-0 out of 5 stars Very very dense, but good
This is an academic text, make no buts about it, despite what she says in her intro that she feels it's accessible to everyone. Butler has also won awards for bad academic prose, so be careful--the thing is dense and wordy beyond belief and she references every major thinker of the past hundred or so years, so if you haven't read the entire works of Foucault, Freud, Lacan, Kristeva, and others, you might feel a little lost. The first 3/4ths of the book is basically responding to and debunking everything everyone else has said or tried to establish about gender. But it's still really good, and her final major thesis, the idea of performativity, is amazing; I might even venture to say life changing. So if you just want the cliff's notes, read the intro, the last chapter (even just the last section of the last chapter), and the conclusion, and you'll get the gist of it (and an idea how tough she can be to read) without having to slog through the whole thing. If you want to tackle the whole thing, be my guest, but I'd only recommend doing so if you really plan on using her for a specific purpose (like me, writing a term paper using her theory).

4-0 out of 5 stars Great Review, Difficult Prose, Updated Version Please
Most of the existing reviews give a good idea of how this book has come across to Amazon readers. I decided to create a review because I had a couple of points to add. The first is a reiteration - Butler's prose is, in places, exceedingly difficult to read without a lot of former practice in reading feminism, philosophy, linguistics, and literary criticism. This is the main reason for loss of one star. She makes such wonderful deconstructive arguments showing how categories of not only gender but sex itself are constructed. Having said that, even if you only pick up about 50% of the meaning, the rephrasing and recouching of multiple ideas from different standpoints conveys the basic ideas the author wishes to convey. The second point is that one may be left wanting more. As Butler says in her updated preface (1999 - the original was 1990) - if she were writing this book today she would also include a discussion of transgender and intersexuality and surgical intervention. I believe such a discussion would bring a valuable contribution to feminism, as feminism brings so much to any consideration of transgender and intersex issues.

3-0 out of 5 stars Come on Kindle! Clean it up.
Of course Butler's books on gender are breathtaking classics and receive 5 stars from me in their print editions. I assign them all the time in my Gender Studies class. But this Kindle edition is messy. This is the problem I keep finding with the Kindle editions. It's insulting of Amazon to assume that Kindle readers don't care about clean editing and formatting.As a PhD student in Literature I am looking for a better tool for amassing my huge reading list. Students in every field would be ecstatic with a Kindle that actually served our needs. I also think Kindle is underestimating the common reader who also appreciates careful editting and presentation. We need to know more information about the Kindle editions--i.e. who edits and Introduces the volumes and whether they are exact replicas of their print editions. We also need to be able to cite actual page numbers from known editions for quotes, essays, papers and dissertations. I hope Kindle fixes this in the next generation.At the moment I'm making due with the messiness because of the convenience of carrying 300 volumes in one light device. But I'd be out shouting Kindle's praises in the streets (and to the classrooms full of college undergrads I teach) if Kindle would just pay attention to these few details.The search tool can be so helpful as to be heavenly. The dictionary tool should be expanded to include philosophical and theoretical terms also!Come on Kindle!

4-0 out of 5 stars Thick, Yet Important
Butler's gender critique has been a helpful resource for me in my own work.In this book Butler challenges varying constructions of gender and how such constructions are constituted.She defends all variations of sexual expression and breaks down patriarchal forms of discourse through the application of a variety of feminist critiques.Her writing is dense, complicated, and sometimes difficult to follow, but the careful reader will find her contribution challenging and worthy of spirited dialogue.

3-0 out of 5 stars Challenging, but Worth It
Judith Butler is one of the most prominent feminist theorists of our times, and her work should be read by anyone who seriously wants to grapple with issues of genderism, bi-genderism, trans-genderism, inter-genderism, and post-genderism. Her challenging writing style is necessary to really let you break out of the binaries that are both constructive and obstructive to our thinking. Butler's central thesis - "that, in a way we are all transvestites" - challenges popularly held views of tranvestite-ism, and destabilizes traditional modes of constructing gender identity. Most people think that they're not transvestites because they do not go out wearing the clothing of the opposite sex. These people need to read this book!

The most subversive thing that one can do in a gendered sociality is to redefine themselves, and hence redefine others, by crossing genderly bound, genderly bounded, and genderly constructed mediations. The mediations both keep us from ourselves and keep us from one another, and in becoming other we transgress and transform these mediations in a constant struggle and constant negotiation for self, society, and bi-individuality.

This book is necessary for anyone living in today's world. ... Read more

2. Precarious Life: The Powers of Mourning and Violence
by Judith Butler
Paperback: 168 Pages (2006-08-17)
list price: US$19.95 -- used & new: US$10.00
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Asin: 1844675440
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Judith Butler responds to the current US policies to wage perpetual war and calls for deeper understanding.In her most impassioned and personal book to date, Judith Butler responds in this profound appraisal ofpost-9/11 America to the current US policies to wage perpetual war, and calls for a deeper understanding of how mourning and violence might instead inspire solidarity and a quest for global justice. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (6)

5-0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, Moving, an Important Book of Our Day
One of Butler's most accessible books, this is a phenomenally interesting and beautifully written investigation into human vulnerability and loss.Butler uses the political circumstances of the historical moment in which the book was written--just post 9/11, detainment of insurgents in Guantanamo Bay, and the crisis in the Middle East--to uncover the nature of human interdependency and to theorize what a political practice that takes such interdependency and vulnerability to others seriously might look like.While her examples might become slightly dated over time, her Levinasian analysis of the meaning of being human and of the kind of political and moral work needed to achieve true global peace will stand despite the passage of time.One note of criticism--some chapters are long and can get a little tedious after the first half of the book.

4-0 out of 5 stars Provocative book
I read this book yesterday and just ate it up. It's not the usual esoteric examination by Butler. (Not that anything is wrong with that and I've read her other work, as well).

That said, the book is written for a lay audience and I think that this book needed to be published, since the responses of feminists to or after Sept 11th have been far and few. (Aftershock is a great book to read about Sept 11th from a feminist point of view).

I can't pinpoint what my favourite section of the book was, however, I enjoyed it all. It was refreshing to see a political theorist write about something "real" that is taking place today that many are discussing or living through.

This is a wonderful addition to her writing repertoire. I do hope to see her write more for a lay audience, since hopefully they will get their curiosity piqued and read more Butler.

2-0 out of 5 stars Another Other
Judith Butler is out of her depth in her discussions of Israel,
and (the new) anti-semitism.Readers searching for understanding of post-9/11 politics will encounter lopsided arguments here.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent social commentary
Judith Butler is a multi-talented scholar who can write for both specialized and general audiences (which is why many, I believe, envy her).This book is quite accessible and rightly so; it is concerned with the contemporary predicaments we are currently in at this point in history.An extremely important book, Butler's "Precarious Life" has much to offer.

4-0 out of 5 stars The only Judith Butler book
I thought Precarious Life was great.Her previous work always sounded like a dreary parody of "postmodern criticism" to me, and I couldn't be bothered trying to slog through any of it.She's obviously going for a wider audience with this new one.It's working. ... Read more

3. Giving an Account of Oneself
by Judith Butler
Paperback: 160 Pages (2005-11-01)
list price: US$20.00 -- used & new: US$20.00
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Asin: 0823225046
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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What does it mean to lead an ethical life under vexed social and linguistic conditions? In her first extended study of moral philosophy, Judith Butler offers a provocative outline for a new ethical practice-one responsive to the need for critical autonomy yet grounded in the opacity of the human subject. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent, Engaging
This book is terrific! I recomend it to anyone familiar with Butler's work (though it is very distinct from much of her older work) or for anyone who thinks it looks even the slightest bit interesting. Even if you disagree with Butler, the book won't disappoint! ... Read more

4. The Judith Butler Reader
Paperback: 384 Pages (2004-03-12)
list price: US$41.95 -- used & new: US$24.35
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Asin: 0631225943
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Judith Butler’s work has challenged and changed the frames of reference within which people speak, think, and live categories of identity. Her innovative and politically far-reaching insight that gender is performative and that identity is a scene of construction continues to exert a crucial impact in numerous critical-theoretical fields, including politics, philosophy, feminist and queer theory, literary and cultural studies. Behind Butler’s radical theorizations of gender, sex, sexuality, power, and "race" lies the urgent normative inquiry into the differential way the human is produced and effaced within the field of contemporary power.

The Judith Butler Reader is a collaborative effort by Sara Salih and Judith Butler to bring together writings that span Butler’s impressive career as a critical philosopher, including selections from both well-known and lesser-known works. Salih’s introduction emphasizes the political and ethical importance of Butler’s ideas, and she supplies editorial material that will assist students in their readings of theories that stand at the forefront of contemporary theoretical and political debates. ... Read more

5. Excitable Speech: A Politics of the Performative
by Judith Butler
Hardcover: 200 Pages (1997-03-12)
list price: US$105.00 -- used & new: US$80.70
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Asin: 0415915872
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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With the same intellectual courage with which she addressed issues of gender, Judith Butler turns her attention to speech and conduct in contemporary political life, looking at several efforts to target speech as conduct that has become subject to political debate and regulation. Reviewing hate speech regulations, anti-pornography arguments, and recent controversies about gay self-declaration in the military, Judith Butler asks whether and how language acts in each of these cultural sites. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (5)

4-0 out of 5 stars Butler and Agency
Butler is a difficult author to understand, particularly if you don't have a background in theories of performativity. I recommend reading JL Austin's How to Do Things with Words and Derrida's Limited, Inc either before or alongside this book. She also draws heavily from Foucault and Althusser.

Excitable Speech is powerful for its account of how subjects are formed through the address of hate speech and how, through this very address, the conditions for the subject's agency are enabled.

A previous reviewer pointed out that for Butler "the subject can only exhibit agency in and through language" and that agency in Butler's account emerges ex nihilio. This is a misunderstanding of both Butler and poststructural theories of agency in general. For Butler, agency is not produced by an autonomous actor; nor is it contained to language.

Drawing from Derrida and Bourdieu, Butler's point is that agency arises from social iterability and the fact that every re-iteration opens the potential for change and subversion. Such iteration, however, is part of the structure of signification broadly conceived (not simply language) and is not the conscious effort of an individual agent. Thus, Butler points to the effect of the body and how bodies are implicated in acts of speech and iteration.

In this text Butler is perhaps at her most cogent and most optimistic reach. I would recommend picking this up for anyone serious about theories of performativity.

2-0 out of 5 stars Irascible Speech
Several years ago, I saw a film entitled Total Eclipse, which is a dramatization of the complex and ill-fated relationship between Arthur Rimbaud and Paul Verlaine, two nineteenth-century French poets. In one scene, a manic Rimbaud, played by the pubescently-challenged Leonardo Dicaprio, exclaims that "The only unendurable thing about life is that nothing is unendurable" (I may have misquoted this slightly; as I said, its been several years since I saw the film). As I recall, the film was rather silly by and large, although I found that this particular exclamation had the ring of solid truth (incidentally, at the time I had been an autodidactic devotee of Nietzsche's philosophy). I subsequently incorporated it into my own repertoire of pithy aphorisms, held at the ready the appropriate occasion present itself.
However, by reading Butler's Excitable Speech in tandem with a whole host of other works of a theoretical/critical sort, I came to realize that there is in fact one thing that is truly unendurable for what appears to be just about every latter-day theoretician: viz., poststructuralist discursive determinism, especially the agentless, discursively animated individual that such determinism entails. Hence Butler's insistence upon the fundamental citationality of speech, which strikes me as the continental philosopher's version of the notion of "weak voluntarism" popular among certain ethicists of an Anglo-American bent. Butler's notion of the subject's agency is certainly a qualified one, in that the subject can only exhibit agency in and through language. But nevertheless, it appears that Butler considers this deterministic influence of language to be less than rigidly absolute. Agency does not in fact emerge ex nihilo, because it is impossible to produce positive effects by using absolutely nothing. The subject must have at her disposal something with which to demonstrate her agency, because agency is observed through its effects--just as "government" [an abstraction] is manifested only through people's comportment in a manner understood to be in accordance with the principles of such an abstraction. Language is a medium as well as a matrix. However, if agency is manifested empirically, that is, through effects, then it follows that agency is a posteriori synthetic, because we observers ascribe causal necessity to the action in relation to its source, the performer of the action. Therefore, I remain uncertain as to how these effects point to a capacity for agency that is intrinsic to the subject as constitutive of the subject a priori. Perhaps the answer lies in the distinction Butler draws between "agency" and "mastery," the latter of which connotes an absolute agency which is inimical to the "weak voluntarism" thesis she advances in Excitable Speech."

1-0 out of 5 stars dilettantism at its worst
The results of Butler's attempt to tackle the very serious issue of speech rights are disappointing in the extreme.With no legal background whatsoever and a myopic philosophical vision which seems ingorant of theliberal tradition upon which the right of free speech is grounded, Butlerprovides an obfuscted discussion (and that's all it is, a discussion) ofthe issue that is at the best of times, irrelevant, and at the worst oftimes, offensively misleading.The book is worthwhile only as an exampleof what happens when a postmodern thinker in the French tradition tries totackle a subject outside the race/power/gender/subjectivity canon outlinedby the philosophers of the 1960s.If you have an appetite for readingphilosophical trainwrecks, then by all means read it.If you wantsomething serious on the issue of free speech, look elsewhere.

5-0 out of 5 stars Butler's most "grounded" work
Butler does a good job grounding speech act theory in political and legalissues, particularly racist and homophobic "hate speech."Shetakes Derrida's theory of iterability and shows how repetition of discoursein new contexts can be a means of resistance.For Butler, this is veryapplied and I liked it much better than Gender trouble.

5-0 out of 5 stars When words injure, what do we do?
An insightful and thoroughly researched study of the social, political, and legal ramification of not only hate speech but discourse concerning the lingusitics of hate.Butler questions the contemporary practices of the adjudication of speech which seeks to define what is correct speech and what is proscribable under law.If words are legally indistinguishable from conduct, then, Butler asks, is law not complicit in the wounds that words cause?Challenging reading ... Read more

6. Undoing Gender
by Judith Butler
Paperback: 288 Pages (2004-08-27)
list price: US$41.95 -- used & new: US$28.99
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Asin: 0415969239
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Undoing Gender addresses the regulation of sexuality and gender that takes place in psychology, aesthetics, and social policy.These essays revisit the problem of kinship in light of new challenges to the family form, interrogate the meaning and purposes of the incest taboo, and challenge the ways in which intersexuality and transsexuality are pathologized. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (8)

4-0 out of 5 stars Living Livable Life
Butler, Judith. "Undoing Gender, Routledge, 2004.

Living Livable Life

Amos Lassen and Literary Pride

Judith Butler's "Undoing Gender" is a much easier book to read than "Gender Trouble" and it gives us a great deal of food for thought. The book is a rather provocative look of the normative structure of gender and how those who do not fit into the "traditional" gender binary of male/female are able to have lives of livability. The book is accessible and it continues where "Gender Trouble" stopped. In showing how gender affects people but without ideas to do to change our opinions about gender--these are left to the reader.
Butler shows her intelligence and sometimes this does not make for an easy read. However, her language is clear. This is a book that demands careful thought and consideration.Scholars who study gender should be aware of what gender is all about more than the average person and that, in my mind, is what this book seeks to do. We have the right of gender expression as protected by our rights as humans and the same can be said of sexual orientation.
"Undoing Gender" is a great place to start for anyone interested in post-structuralism.But a word of warning--you must be ready to take time and effort to read Butler.

5-0 out of 5 stars Judith Butler discusses gender through a philosophic lens
First things first, Judith Butler is scary smart. Her linguist/philosopher credentials can make her a tough read sometimes, but the language she uses here is clear and pure. Undoing Gender provided the first insights into the gendered connections that we all share and how the world understands us through these labels. She connects Foucault to Simone de Beauvoir, Hegel, Freud and beyond. I very much appreciated the depths that Undoing Gender plumbed to connect my experience to everyone else's, and to our common history and struggle. I tend to hightlight and annotate books that I use as reference and this copy is dripping yellow, pink, blue and green.

4-0 out of 5 stars Generally excellent, but with a serious flaw...
"Undoing Gender" is a dense and scholarly tome which demands careful consideration and perhaps repeated readings to fully appreciate. I would give it five stars but for Chapter Three where I found Professor Butler's focus on the David Reimer case a somewhat superficial rehash of what has already been written, lacking in the critical analysis Butler uses to excellent effect elsewhere throughout her work.

On the famous case of David Reimer, whose penis was burned completely off during a botched circumcision when he was eight months old, Professor Butler writes:

"David was born with XY chromosomes and at the age of eight months, his penis was accidentally burned and severed in the course of a surgical operation to rectify phimosis, a condition in which the foreskin thwarts urination. This is a relatively risk-free procedure but the doctor who performed it on David was using a new machine, apparently one that he hadn't used before, one that his colleagues declared was unnecessary for the job."

Judith Butler reports elements of David's tragic story, complete with the errors and embellishments so often repeated.

Phimosis is a condition of tightness of the foreskin preventing retraction over the glans, but it does not prevent or thwart urination. Phimosis is a natural condition of the developing infant penis, in many cases retraction of the foreskin is not possible until well into childhood or later. Jean-Marie Huot, the so-called doctor who destroyed David's penis, diagnosed both David and his twin brother Brian with phimosis, though after the accident with David, Brian was left genitally intact and his condition of phimosis cleared up naturally as it does with almost all intact males, showing the error of Hout's "diagnosis" and "treatment."

Butler's statement that circumcision "is a relatively risk-free procedure", spoken in the context of David's case is (to say the least) a serious and undoubtedly harmful understatement. The damages from circumcision are all too often unrecognized and underreported, no doubt in a conscious or subconscious effort to avoid challenging the status quo. Even with severe circumcision damage as happened to David many of the mainstream publications reporting his story refrained from mentioning circumcision as the cause of the damage; several only stated, "the baby lost his penis in an accident" shifting blame from the mutilator to the baby! David's story challenges society to take off its cultural blinkers and look at circumcision for what it is, even if some wish to believe such casualities are acceptable.

David's case is world famous and has been used by many to advance theories of gender. John Money used David's case to advance his theory that gender is imposed after birth. Once David found out about his past and proclaimed his maleness, others have followed with a different tact, using him to suggest that gender is innate. Here in Canada where David's life took place there is another not-so-famous case of another child born male, whose penis was also destroyed in a botched circumcision and raised female. She, now an adult, has been reported in the medical literature as being well adjusted to her female gender role, yet is rarely referred to in the mainstream discourse on gender. Perhaps if her story becomes public she will reveal other subtleties we have yet to understand.

Gender scholars should recognize that we cannot seriously and comprehensively discuss sexuality and gender if the dynamics around genital reducing surgery (circumcision) performed "routinely" on infants is not included in the scope of this discussion. A society which condones genital mutilation of infants and children and sweeps the casualties under the rug is asking for some serious scrutiny. Professor Butler refers in her footnotes to the chapter on David Reimer, to a videotape on the ethics of sex reassignment of children, yet doesn't mention the impact to society or the ethics of performing "routine" genital reducing surgery on infant males.

In a latter chapter Professor Butler delightfully acknowledges her sexuality as lesbian and her heritage as Jewish. With these credentials she could turn her brilliant analysis of gender more squarely on the issue of circumcision and perhaps reveal some as yet unknown aspects of the dynamics around this issue. Other scholars have paved the way, notably historian and physician Leonard Glick with his groundbreaking book, "Marked in Your Flesh: Circumcision from Ancient Judea to Modern America" and Jewish feminist Miriam Pollock in her heartfelt essay, "Redefining the Sacred" in the book "Sexual Mutilations: A Human Tragedy." Also recommended is Ron Goldman's book, "Questioning Circumcision: A Jewish Perspective" and "Male & Female Circumcision: Among Jews, Christians and Muslims, Religious, Medical Social and Legal Debate", by Sami Awad Aldeeb Abu-Sahlieh. These excellent books are available through Amazon.

"Undoing Gender" will not be the last book to focus on David Reimer's famous and tragic life. I sincerely hope the next person to write about David will put his case in context and look long, hard and honestly at what happened to him and place blame where it squarely belongs in an effort to keep this from ever happening again. All children have an inherent human right to have their genital integrity protected; their freedom of gender expression and sexual orientation as well.

3-0 out of 5 stars It's good, but not her best
While "Undoing Gender" is one of Judith Butler's most accessible texts (in that one does not need to have a philosophical companion and an OED on hand to read it), I did find many of the essays to not be as well developed as others she has written.Many of the essays seem to be half-completed, lacking some substance.While I do think that "Undoing Gender" is a good start for someone interested in post-structuralism, I would recommend that one really take the time and effort to read some of her more well thought out books like "Bodies That Matter" or "Gender Trouble" -- which might require additional reading of Derrida, Foucault, Freud and Lacan to really get the fullness of the texts.

4-0 out of 5 stars Doing... undoing...
`Undoing Gender' is certainly a much easier read than 'Gender Trouble' and 'Bodies That Matter'. However, it still presents thoughtful reflections relevant to Butler's earlier work. It's so gloomy to read multiple texts by the same author (especially in the academic field) and find they all explore the same viewpoint- that's why it is really refreshing to read Butler's work in succession to witness the 'redoing' of ideas. Butler's up to date frameworks are especially relevant in the forever changing realm of gender.
However, in reading Butler's work I find it necessary to consult a whole heap of other titles, including work by Freud, Foucault, Lacan. Keep this in mind... it's not a light read! Consider it more a starting point. ... Read more

7. Frames of War: When Is Life Grievable?
by Judith Butler
Paperback: 224 Pages (2010-08-24)
list price: US$16.95 -- used & new: US$9.50
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Asin: 1844676269
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Renowned social theorist unmasks the media's insidious collaboration with the military-industrial complex.In this urgent response to violence, racism and increasingly aggressive methods of coercion, Judith Butler explores the media’s portrayal of armed conflict, a process integral to how the West prosecutes its wars. In doing so, she calls for a re-conceptualization of the Left, one united in opposition and resistance to the illegitimate and arbitrary effects of interventionist military action. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

4-0 out of 5 stars A Sign of Life
Butler, Judith. "Frames of War: When Is Life Grievable", 2009.

A Sign of Life

Amos Lassen

Judith Butler makes the point that grievability is the sign that one has lived his life fully and meaningfully. She looks at the concept of war and grieving and gives her reflections on it. We look at questions such as what it means to be human, how is humanity eased and what is a grievable life, whose lives are grievable and who decides this?
In order to have life, it must come to a living organism but there is also a set of criteria that allow the body to live. The book looks at categories that open questions of personal and political responsibility and we can question what if we lived our lives in another place and time. We must be prepared to apprehend something that is not us and accept things that are not framed by the commonalities of society. To assess value to a person, we must be able to understand his existence. Our apprehension is tempered by recognition norms so we must be prepared to see understand something that is not with us. It's an interesting theory albeit a bit complicated. Butler leads us to a place of non-violence--active non-violence by which everyone must be willing to risk his violence simultaneously in order for this to work.

3-0 out of 5 stars Interesting, but theoretically weak
This is not Butler's best book. It is,however, one of the more interesting books she's written. But theoretically it is kind of weak. She argues that we have a responsibility not to life as such (because people dying is a part of life); but rather our responsibility is to sustain the conditions which allow life to flourish. The problem is she doesn't define 'flourish', so all her talk about philosophy informing social policy is hollow. The other problem is she doesn't connect the dots: if our responsibility is to sustain the conditions which allow life to flourish, and we acknowledge that present conditions don't do that, then don't we also have a responsibility to change our conditions? She shies away from this issue. The other problem is her notion of 'frames' -- this is conceptually retrograde. D&G's concept of abstract machine + assemblage is a much more efficient concept.

5-0 out of 5 stars better than before
Butler continues her profound reflections in Precarious Life, offering insightful analyses of torture, photography, and the probem of mourning in the context of war. It is not just about media analysis of war, but about the question of recognition, survival, destructiveness, and non-violence ... Read more

8. Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of Sex
by Judith Butler
Paperback: 304 Pages (1993-09-20)
list price: US$36.95 -- used & new: US$28.75
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Asin: 0415903661
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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In Bodies That Matter, Judith Butler further develops her distinctive theory of gender by examining the workings of power at the most ``material'' dimensions of sex and sexuality. Deepening the inquiries she began in Gender Trouble, Butler offers an original reformulation of the materiality of bodies, examining how the power of heterosexual hegemony forms the ``matter'' of bodies, sex, and gender.Butler argues that power operates to constrain ``sex'' from the start, delimiting what counts as a viable sex. She offers a clarification of the notion of ``performativity'' introduced in Gender Trouble and explores the meaning of a citational politics. The text includes readings of Plato, Irigaray, Lacan, and Freud on the formation of materiality and bodily boundaries; ``Paris is Burning,'' Nella Larsen's ``Passing,'' and short stories by Willa Cather; along with a reconsideration of ``performativity'' and politics in feminist, queer, and radical democratic theory. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (9)

5-0 out of 5 stars Material Bodies
With the publication of Gender Trouble in 1990, Judith Butler spearheaded a movement in feminist theory which has become known as 'radical constructivism'. Taking its departures from psychoanalytic and poststructuralist theory, and also informed by speech-act theory, Gender Trouble contends (albeit with sophistication and nuance infinitely greater than this) that gender is not an internal essence, but one produced 'in anticipation' by a repeated and naturalised set of acts, behaviours and stylings. Gender and sexual categories are held in place by the restrictive norms of heterosexuality, but these can be revealed as artificial by their very citability -- as demonstrated in extremis by, for example, drag and camp performance.
In Bodies That Matter (1993) Butler extends and complicates the theories put forward in Gender Trouble to contend that not only gender, but the materiality of the body itself, is discursively and performatively produced. We cannot, therefore, speak of a natural, prelinguistic, 'given' body, because what we think we know about bodies is an effect rather than a cause of signification. As with Gender Trouble, this is not to say that bodies are entirely, unchangingly determined by language, but a recognition that, in Butler's words, there can be 'no reference to a pure body which is not at the same time a further formation of that body' (1993, p. 10). Referring to a body is thus, in quite a strict linguistic sense, always almost performative or constitutive, and governed largely (though not entirely) by habitual understandings and norms (such as heterosexism). Again, the citation and iterability of the norms that subjects are expected 'naturally' to embody belies their instability in a classic deconstructive manoeuvre: the natural or intelligible body shores itself up against, and thereby defines or summons the appearance of the deviant or unintelligible (just as the legitimate summons the illegitimate, the authentic the false, the proper the improper, and so forth). The 'performance' of alternative sexualities and gender identities both denaturalises normative suppositions, and pushes for the articulation of new bodily possibilities.
Butler outlines her theory of how bodies are produced, or materialised, in discourse, and clarifies the oft-cited notion of performativity in its twinned senses of speech-act and theatrical agency. The textual style in this instance is relatively straightforward by Butler's standards: her work is renowned for what can seem like a wilfully opaque syntax. This, however, is central to her critique, which is shot through with a relentless critical suspicion of the 'common sense' of linguistic transparency.

3-0 out of 5 stars A poststrcuturalist deconstruction of Freud
My initial reaction to reading Bodies that Matter by Judith Butler is that she writes from a very unique perspective and theoretical standpoint: post-structuralism. While she maybe considered one of the foremost theorists on gender and feminism, I find her writings extremely difficult to follow. She presents key concepts readily but in a langue that is indicative of the post-structuralist perspective, convoluted and overly wordy.More often than not I found myself loosing focus and having to reread numerous passages just to maintain basic understanding.
If language, as Butler suggests, is confined by the language used (Butler 91: 1993) then Butler is caged. Her critical deconstruction of Freud, which is the main focus of the text, is enlightening but far too complex within the language used for the critique.The concepts of Freudian psychology are not that difficult to understand when presented in a fashion that lends itself to understanding. Many of his theories are paramount to understanding basic anthropological concepts, not to mention human psychology.

2-0 out of 5 stars Lacanian response
When I first read this book, I was pleased to see that Butler was returning to the problem of "gender performativity" she raised in *Gender Trouble.*I do believe that she was misunderstood as having claimed in *Gender Trouble* that the performativity constitutive of gender implies an infinite "plasticity" or freedom from the constraints of gender. Yet after reading *Bodies,* I felt that she evaded the question with which she opened the book:in what way can the "materiality" of anatomical sex be construed as a "discursive limit" to ideological constructions of gender without being understood as existing outside of discourse?I believe that Butler is ultimately indecisive about the status of the materiality of sex as either a pre- or extra-discursive "hard kernel of the Real" or (just like gender) another aspect of discourse.This is what leads to her very wrong-headed "critique" of the concept of "objet petit a" in the work of Slavoj Zizek and Jacques Lacan, very complex work which she oversimplifies and accuses of "reifying" or "essentializing" sex.Any serious student of Lacan knows that the a-object of fantasy is anything but "essential."It phantasmatically "dresses up" (to use Lacan's words in Seminar 14) a primordial psychic "hole," an *absence* or pure negativity where a "grounding" for discourse ought to be but is *lacking.* It's a shame that a book such as this which begins with a rigorous intellectual question degenerates into a sort of psychoanalytic dilettantism.

3-0 out of 5 stars Major work from a major thinker that doesn't quite convince
The best thing about Judith Butler is that she is always willing to think through the consequences of her earlier writings. This book was a response to the criticism that emerged out of the groundbreaking conclusion to GENDER TROUBLE that argued for an understanding of gender as performative. Critics took Butler to task for arguing that gender is something that is simply an act of performative volition - one can "be" whatever one wants to be - irrespective of the materiality of the body. Here, Butler turns the tables (in a neat deconstructive move) by showing how this criticism presupposes the a priori existence of "bodies" and "matter" separate from discourse. Yet, after a brilliant introduction, the book becomes weighted down by its own psychoanalytic presuppositions and its tediously dense prose style. There is often no reason for Butler's writing to be as incomprehensible as it is, especially given the giant claims she's making about the nature of gender (other than to "perform" her writing's own indebtedness to Lacanian psychoanalysis and Althusserian critique).

Moreover, her work has been rightly faulted (partiucularly by Martha Nussbaum) by holding out an ideal of "subversion" that is something (in the terms of how she frames it) that ultimately DOES have very little to do with the ways sexual inequality is experienced outside of a somewhat narrow bourgeois American academic purview. But, finally, given the indisputable pervasiveness of Butler's ideas within the academy and without it (particularly in the ways in which sexuality is viewed today), the work is clearly a seminal text nonetheless.

1-0 out of 5 stars colossal hybris
This book drove me almost entirely insane.The essay if you can call it that on the film Paris is Burning is simply incendiary to any person with a trace element of logic in their scalp.This essay argues that Venus Extravaganza was murdered for having been a transvestite.In the film itself it says she/he is killed -- but what the NYPD cannot solve Butler solves in the twinkling of a phrase -- she claims he/she is erased for playing with the sexual line.Not for burning a customer, or for simply being in a dangerous business.Whores are wiped out all day and night for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.Ever hear of the Green River Killer?Still Butler knows the motive.She just invents anything she wants, and calls it truth.She actually infers that anybody has the right to invent their own reality, and everybody else has to honor this reality.Only an extremely stupid person who has never had to work for a living could keep such a dumb idea down without puking.Do you mean if I think I'm a millionaire and walk into a bank, they will give me a million dollars?Do you mean if I have cellulite all over my legs and breasts that I can be a top model, I just have to really believe it?Do you mean that if I think I'm a genius, then others will agree?Feminist academics who've never worked, but who love to dramatize their own victimization, will love this book.Everybody else will simply puke from laughing so hard. ... Read more

9. The Psychic Life of Power: Theories in Subjection
by Judith Butler
Paperback: 228 Pages (1997-05-01)
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Asin: 0804728127
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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As a form of power, subjection is paradoxical. To be dominated by a power external to oneself is a familiar and agonizing form power takes. To find, however, that what “one” is, one's very formation as a subject, is dependent upon that very power is quite another. If, following Foucault, we understand power as forming the subject as well, it provides the very condition of its existence and the trajectory of its desire. Power is not simply what we depend on for our existence but that which forms reflexivity as well. Drawing upon Hegel, Nietzsche, Freud, Foucault, and Althusser, this challenging and lucid work offers a theory of subject formation that illuminates as ambivalent the psychic effects of social power.

If we take Hegel and Nietzsche seriously, then the "inner life" of consciousness and, indeed, of conscience, not only is fabricated by power, butbecomes one of the ways in which power is anchored in subjectivity. The author considers the way in which psychic life is generated by the social operation of power, and how that social operation of power is concealed and fortified by the psyche that it produces. Power is no longer understood to be "internalized" by an existing subject, but the subject is spawned as an ambivalent effect of power, one that is staged through the operation of conscience.

To claim that power fabricates the psyche is also to claim that there is a fictional and fabricated quality to the psyche. The figure of a psyche that "turns against itself" is crucial to this study, and offers an alternative to describing power as “internalized.” Although most readers of Foucault eschew psychoanalytic theory, and most thinkers of the psyche eschew Foucault, the author seeks to theorize this ambivalent relation between the social and the psychic as one of the most dynamic and difficult effects of power.

This work combines social theory, philosophy, and psychoanalysis in novel ways, offering a more sustained analysis of the theory of subject formation implicit in such other works of the author as Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of "Sex" and Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity.

Amazon.com Review
Judith Butler's writing has become a cornerstone of queertheory. In Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion ofIdentity and Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits ofSex, she drew upon Freud, Michel Foucault and Jacques Lacan toexplore the connections between sex, politics, and identity, andThe Psychic Life of Power continues her inquiry into theseideas. While she revisits, and revises, some of her earlierthoughts--such as her theory of gender as performance--she breaks muchnew ground here. Using Hegel and Nietzsche (as well as a critique ofpsychoanalysis) for theoretical support, Butler probes how the idea of"subjection"--to become a subject, to have aconsciousness--interfaces with having a gay or lesbianidentity. Discussing such topics as drag, gays-in-the-military, andAIDS to illustrate her ideas, Butler manages to locate herphilosophical theories in a concrete world, and although her earlierwork could sometimes be as dense as it was rewarding, The PsychicLife of Power is lucid and highly readable. --MichaelBronski ... Read more

Customer Reviews (5)

1-0 out of 5 stars Overrated, Outdated and Mostly a Waste of Time
Are you a man who is attracted to women?Did you know why?It's because when you were an infant, you wanted to have sex with other men but your parents told you not to.Then you wanted to have sex with your own mother, but your parents forbid you to do that as well.So, unable to HAVE your objects of desire, you have to BECOME your father (the first one you were forbidden to have) so that one day you will get to HAVE your mother.Or...a suitable stand in for her.

Yes, this is psychoanalysis at its best, which is about as good as doing a few Tarot card readings as a means of gaining greater insight into human development.Butler seems stuck on the theories of Freud which have long ago been disproven by scientists around the world.In her world, there are no people, only objects of sexual desire.There is no human connection, no love and no common sense.It is ashame that this is required reading in some humanities departments these days.If you can get through this without falling over laughing then you either have no sense of humor or are afraid to upset the academic powers that be who have dubbed Butler worth reading.I choose to keep on laughing.

5-0 out of 5 stars Butler Par Excellence
This Butler is her best yet. It is imaginative, provocative, and excellently argues. She moves through a number of theories and discourses including Althusser, Freudian psychoanalysis, Foucault, and Hegel in order to argue out a VERY important concept: passionate attachments. This concept of Butler's represents a major intervention and contribution for radical politics. The basic idea is the subjects becomes attached to the conditions of their own subjectivity EVEN if these conditions are oppressive one. Very interesting and suggestive point. This book is well worth the buy just to see how Butler will argue this point out. If I have one criticism of Butler is that her discussion ultimately resonates with a number of Lacanian concepts, but she still maintains her skeptical distance from Lacan--these Lacanian criticisms can be found in Zizek's excellent "The Ticklish Subject."

4-0 out of 5 stars Psyche Meets Subject
I've read this book three times in the past several months in preparation for giving a talk on post-structural perspectives on early childhood gender and sexual development in psychoanalysis.As always, I find the effort it takes to understand Butler's writing to pay off richly in the brilliance of her arguments.In particular, I was drawn to two sections in this book: the first a reconsidering of who it is that turns to become a subject in Althusser's model of interpellation, and the second an exchange of papers with psychoanalyst Adam Phillips in which both grapple with how her work might be informed by psychoanalytic practice and the practice might be informed by her work.Having read this book both prior to and after immersing myself in Freud, Lacan and some of their major commentators, I found that I got far more out of Butler's book with a stronger background in the language and assumptions of psychoanalysis.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Paradox of Subjection
In *The Psychic Life of Power* Judith Butler provides a critical inquiry into the process of subject formation that reveals the self-conscious subject as necessary paradox. Her main argument is that the emergence of the subject depends on subjection to power and yet the subject that is inaugurated exceeds this power, because subjection can never fully totalize the subject. In order to elaborate her theoretical movements Butler draws on Hegel, Nietzsche, Foucault, Althusser, and Freud. The main metaphors for understanding the works of subjection are the turning of the subject on itself and the interpellation of the subject by the other. Consciousness and desire function as guiding categories for the analysis. Taking on the much discussed question of the possibility of agency Butler shows that the normalizing effect of social norms always produces an inassimilable remainder in the subject from where resistance against those norms becomes possible. *The Psychic Life of Power* provides a very powerful rethinking of the question of subjectivity and self-consciousness, even though - or maybe because of - the individual chapters' appearance as separate essays. In the introduction, however, Butler reveals how the various explorations all fit together in her thinking. A new stage of Butlerian lucidity - in and on Butlerian terms, though.

4-0 out of 5 stars A Continuation of Thoughts on Subjectivity
This is a contituation from her earlier publications, "Gender Trouble," "Bodies That Matter." Those who read these two texts would find this book extremely interesting. Butler seems to move her theorization of subjectivity from the materiality of the body (in previous texts) to the psychic realm of subjectivity. Please note that this is NOT a reflection of Cartesian dichotomy of mind/body. Rather, I understand her move as strategic choice, in order to deepen her analysis of power and its relation to psychic realm, before delving into the inextricable reality of psyche and body.Here Butler draws on the works of various philosophers, such as Hegel, Althusser,Nietzsche, Freud, Foucault and so on, to explicate the complex process through which power engenders a psychic form (see intro), and constitutes a self. As always, her eloquent rhetorical style and brilliant epistemological turns are amazing enough. ... Read more

10. Antigone's Claim
by Judith Butler
Paperback: 112 Pages (2002-03-15)
list price: US$24.00 -- used & new: US$16.00
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Asin: 0231118953
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
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The celebrated author of Gender Trouble here redefines Antigone´s legacy, recovering her revolutionary significance and liberating it for a progressive feminism and sexual politics. Butler´s new interpretation does nothing less than reconceptualize the incest taboo in relation to kinship -and open up the concept of kinship to cultural change.Antigone, the renowned insurgent from Sophocles´s Oedipus, has long been a feminist icon of defiance. But what has remained unclear is whether she escapes from the forms of power that she opposes. Antigone proves to be a more ambivalent figure for feminism than has been acknowledged, since the form of defiance she exemplifies also leads to her death. Butler argues that Antigone represents a form of feminist and sexual agency that is fraught with risk. Moreover, Antigone shows how the constraints of normative kinship unfairly decide what will and will not be a livable life.Butler explores the meaning of Antigone, wondering what forms of kinship might have allowed her to live. Along the way, she considers the works of such philosophers as Hegel, Lacan, and Irigaray. How, she asks, would psychoanalysis have been different if it had taken Antigone -the "postoedipal" subject -rather than Oedipus as its point of departure? If the incest taboo is reconceived so that it does not mandate heterosexuality as its solution, what forms of sexual alliance and new kinship might be acknowledged as a result? The book relates the courageous deeds of Antigone to the claims made by those whose relations are still not honored as those of proper kinship, showing how a culture of normative heterosexuality obstructs our capacity to see what sexual freedom and political agency could be. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (10)

5-0 out of 5 stars Profound work on the legacy of Antigone
Antigone's revolt lives on! As Butler says herself in the introduction, she is not a classicist and has no desire to be one. This book is about the intellectual/artistic legacy of the figure of Antigone and the political and philosophical implications of her performative resistance to state power. Having taken a seminar in 1998 with Butler on the very topic of Antigone, I can assure you that the author is well aware of the ambiguity of Sophocles's play. As Butler demonstrates, this ambiguity is what has driven so many diverse interpretations by major thinkers such as Hegel and Lacan and playwrights like Hoelderlin and Brecht. Butler insightfully analyzes the critical-artistic tradition that has developed since Sophocles and helps to demonstrate this tradition's continued relevance in the present day--in any case where individual desire conflicts with the institution of the state as it functions to set the parameters of the normal or acceptable in society.

3-0 out of 5 stars Must Like Hegel & Lacan
I haven't finished this extremely short text yet.It was originally a small series of lectures.Basically, Butler critiques Hegel's and Lacan's appropriations of Antigone (both the play and, especially, the character) to represent a certain ideal.She summarizes rather lucidly both Hegel's and Lacan's positions.Of course, the problem with both Hegel and Lacan is that they are so dense and (often) obscure that, like Nietzsche, they get appropriated left and right themselves.So understanding what they *really* ever meant is always slippery.But Hegel and Lacan are familiar territory for Butler.She's no Classicist, and she's upfront about that.I think she does a phenomenal job highlighting the ultimately untenable postion(s) Hegel and, to a lesser extent, Lacan assume in relation to Antigone.I haven't finish yet, but Butler is certainly setting up her own "feminist" reading.It's not concerned with "what the Greeks thought" the way classical scholars (by definition) often are.Rather, she's clearly relating Greek tragedy to the modern world in response to the past 300 years of (post)enlightenment thinking.A more recent text that also deals with a lot of this material is The Antigone Complex by Cecilia Sjoholm - if you're interested.

5-0 out of 5 stars very intelligent, ground-breaking book!!!
Judith Butler's study of Antigone, over the course of these 3 lectures, yields important and timely insights about how we might understand kinship and love in today's society. Her analysis of Hegel, Levi-Strauss, and Lacan is impressively rigorous. A must read for anyone interested in liguistics, structuralism, feminism and contemporary questions about political belonging.

1-0 out of 5 stars Does this woman know any Greek?
I have located several misquotations and several mispellings of what little Greek she uses. Apart from it being gruesomely written, I suspect this woman does not know Antigone in Greek--she quotes widely from other sources but prefers to stay away from the original. I am tempted to at a later date say with Voltaire "I am sitting in the smallest room of the house. I have your book in front of me--soon it will be behind me"

5-0 out of 5 stars Butler (Miss Butler if ur nasty) is at is again...
Judging from the reader reviews on this website, Judith Butler has yet again succeeded in provoking the outrage of several diehard and blue-in-the-face classics scholars. Those classicists who feel outraged by her work might consider her illuliminating comments on Hölderlin's own translation of Antigone, translations that themselves were received as scandals in their time and that continue, like Antigone in Butler's view, to provoke critical thought. If you think Antigone belongs on the shelves of a dusty library, you might as well leave this book alone, since here she's haunting queer bars and dining at the most interesting and vital family meals imaginable, where queer sons and daughters struggle together with their just as queer parents to figure out how it is that we might say our word to a world that persists in ignoring what it is that we have to say. ... Read more

11. Judith Butler: Live Theory
by Vicki Kirby
Paperback: 192 Pages (2006-08-01)
list price: US$24.95 -- used & new: US$14.50
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Asin: 0826462936
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An introductory guide to the work of Judith Butler, a major contemporary theorist, this title includes a new interview with Butler. "Judith Butler: Live Theory" is an invaluable introduction to the work of this key contemporary theorist, guiding the student through the most complex ideas of one of the most influential thinkers in contemporary culture. Concise, accessible and comprehensive, the book explores and illuminates Butler's important and ongoing contributions to gender theory, offers new insights into the central themes of her work, and considers the extent of her impact on how the discipline of gender studies has been shaped. In particular, the book considers Butler's intellectual work in relation to issues of sexuality and performance, identity and politics, language and power - themes central to Butler's thought and writing. Vicki Kirby locates Butler in the context of contemporary theorists and thinkers and the book includes a new interview with Butler herself, in which she discusses the key themes in her work as well as future writing plans.Offering a stimulating and clear account of the work and thought of this inspiring figure, "Judith Butler: Live Theory" is a key resource for anyone studying this pioneering thinker within the context of sociology, cultural studies, literary criticism, feminism and philosophy. ... Read more

12. Judith Butler in Conversation: Analyzing the Texts and Talk of Everyday Life
by Bronwyn Davies
Paperback: 296 Pages (2007-08-03)
list price: US$35.95 -- used & new: US$28.35
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Asin: 0415956544
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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How has Judith Butler’s writing contributed to thought in the Social Sciences and the Humanities? The participants in this project draw on various aspects of Butler’s conceptual work and they question how it has opened up the possibilities of thought in areas of study as diverse as theatre studies, education and narrative therapy.

In a format that demands careful listening and response, the scholars in this book interact with Butler, her writing, and each other. Within this dynamic space they take up Butler’s body of work and carry it in new and exciting directions. Their conversations and writing are, in turn, funny, exciting, surprising and moving.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars Judith Butler in Conversation
Judith Butler in Conversation is a valuable resource for academics, students and researchers in narrative therapies, psychology, cultural studies, theatre, gender, politics, feminism, education and communication. The incredible intellect of Judith Butler is initially made accessible through conversations with Bronyn Davies, a post structural feminist researcher and academic at the University of Western Sydney. Davies interviews Butler about aspects of her thinking and writing and asks salient questions that translate Butler's work just aswriters have translated Foucault's work. Subsequent to Davies conversation, various other academics relate Butler's thoughts to their own spheres of research and thinking. These cover discourse, gender emergence, refugees, education and the experience of childhood in a pluralistic society. There are multiple conversations within this text. The writers are not only conversing with Butler but also with each other. Each chapter has a response by other academics. The greatest achievement of this text is that it makes Butler's intellect accessible to a whole new audience. It relates her work to the practical and the every day giving the reader an opportunity to open up to a new paradigm, a different way of perceiving the world. Davies and the other contributers to the text are to be congratulated on such a valuable contribution to academic texts.

4-0 out of 5 stars Butler speaks
Easy to Read, Butler is always thorough and insightful. This book is not so much an introduction but an alive performance or thinking in action. The relation between theory and concrete problems males it a pleasure to read. It is philosophy today, as I see it ... Read more

13. Contingency, Hegemony, Universality: Contemporary Dialogues on the Left
by Judith Butler, Ernesto Laclau, Slavoj Zizek
Paperback: 300 Pages (2000-07)
list price: US$24.95 -- used & new: US$12.90
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Asin: 185984278X
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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In a compelling and unusual experiment, three eminent theorists engage in a dialogue on central questions of contemporary philosophy and politics.Their essays, organized as separate contributions that respond to one another, range over the Hegelian legacy in contemporary critical theory, the theoretical dilemmas of multiculturalism, the universalism-versus-particularism debate, the strategies of the Left in a globalized economy, and the relative merits of post-structuralism and Lacanian psychoanalysis for a critical social theory. While the rigor and intelligence with which these writers approach their work is formidable, Contingency, Hegemony, Universality benefits additionally from their clear sense of energy and enjoyment in a revealing and often unpredictable exchange. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (6)

3-0 out of 5 stars Weird
Very strange book--courageous, but disappointing in many ways.Butler tries throughout to get the others to think of gays/lesbians as something more than examples of minorities--they refuse.Laclau's second essay is positively bitchy and contemptuous.Zizek presses the other two to be more active activists and take a more positive political stance--they do not do so, instead noting that he also does not do so.Laclau says he assumed Zizek had a sophisticated political sense when he entered the collaboration but must conclude that he was wrong--Zizek is politically stupid, and Butler is a ranting, ravingdyke--or so Laclau implies by referring to her first essay as a "war machine" or something.(She of course does not lower herself by responding.)It's an intersting collaboration in many ways--what I got out of it mainly was a better understanding of hegemony, which seems to me an incredibly powerful concept.But it comes mainly, I gather, from Laclau's earlier work.Butler, I thought, asked some good questions about universality that are ignored throughout the rest of the volume, as are all her remarks about gender, which seem invisible to the others.She writes beautifully at times.Laclau's thinking is incisive and powerful.Zizek seems to flip-flop wantonly on Derrida, and they all bicker constantly about who is and who isn't interpreting Lacan's Real with adequate thoroughness.It's a strangely confused, confusing, and inconclusive book.(The attempt, at the end, to present the failure to conclude anything as a theoretical triumph is a bit hollow.)It shows the state of theory now, I guess--theory is seductive in its power and potential, but three theorists of the Left seem unable to talk to each other.My own view is that theory can underestimate the power of disciplinary barriers."Theory" seems to me to be nothing if not a way for a rhetorician, an economist, and a psychoanalyst/film critic to talk to each other, but the forces against such collaboration are not to be so easily thwarted, unfortunately.The book is interesting but naive.

4-0 out of 5 stars worth the effort
Yes this is a difficult book, but it is an absolute must read for those who are follwing the theoretical developments of post-strucuralism on the progressive left.Of course there are no prescriptions for immediate action but read Butler's contributions in this book and she addresses that dilemma.Laclau is very good, and Zizek has nuggets, but his Hegelian/Lacanianism is showing signs of wear and doesn't offer the opportunities for further theoretical developments and even research projects that the projects of Butler and Laclau offer.

5-0 out of 5 stars better than most...
This book represents an attempt by (the) three social thinkers of our time to bring their differing views of what is to done together by beginning with what it is that they have in common, namely: Marx (and Gramsci), Lacan, and Derrida.Although all three critique the above figures, they could not do what it is they do with them.This book provides a much needed companion to Laclau's (w/ Mouffe) "Hegemony and Socialist Strategy" and Zizek's "Ticklish Subject".It also helps towards Butler's "Gender Trouble" but I feel that her approach has matured a great deal from that mostly obscure book.Zizek and Laclau are on their game and their detailed responses back and forth really help in understanding what is at stake.I like Butler but it seems that she is out of her league and element.That being said, Ithink that there are nuggets of greatness in her writings, one just has to look extra hard to find them.My only criticism for Zizek is that sometimes his examples skew to the shallow side, but this negative is overcome with the remainder of his work.

3-0 out of 5 stars Difficult
A difficult book to read.It is composed of interrelated essays and brings poststructuralist analysis of the current political situation to the fore.Very good for scholars dealing with the desection of the postmodern but offers little advice to those struggling for a better life.

1-0 out of 5 stars Not my favorite book
I have many criticisms to make about this book, but I will limit myself to the following points. Although Zizek makes an effort to be understood, Laclau and Butler compete for showing who is more obscure and pedantic. In spite all the apparent erudition of the authors, or rather because of it, the issue of hegemony is not well-focused. Certainly Gramsci was quite concerned about providing a philosophical dimension to his social reflection, but Laclau, Butler and, to a lesser extend Zizek, bury the social reflection under tons of excessive philosophical references. The lack of sociological dimension is particularly noticeable regarding Laclau's discussion of contigency. The blending of Kant, Hegel, Lacan, Saussure, to mention the main characters, is simply theoretical over-killing. It will take an article to show how shaky the theoretical connetion between hegemony and universalism is. It is my impression that Gramsci would not recognize his work in this academic potpourri. I bought the book, read carefully from cover to cover, and I strongly dislike it. ... Read more

14. Judith Butler and Political Theory: Troubling Politics
by Samuel Chambers, Terrell Carver
Paperback: 200 Pages (2008-03-28)
list price: US$44.95 -- used & new: US$35.41
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Asin: 0415383668
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Over the past twenty-five years the work of Judith Butler has had an extraordinary impact on numerous disciplines and interdisciplinary projects across the humanities and social sciences. This original study is the first to take a thematic approach to Butler as a political thinker. Starting with an explanation of her terms of analysis, Judith Butler and Political Theory develops Butler’s theory of the political through an exploration of her politics of troubling given categories and approaches. By developing concepts such as normative violence and subversion and by elaborating her critique of heteronormativity, this book moves deftly between Butler’s earliest and most famous writings on gender and her more recent interventions in post-9/11 politics.

This book, along with its companion volume, Judith Butler's Precarious Politics, marks an intellectual event for political theory, with major implications for feminism, women’s studies, gender studies, cultural studies, lesbian and gay studies, queer theory and anyone with a critical interest in contemporary American ‘great power’ politics.

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15. Is Critique Secular?: Blasphemy, Injury, and Free Speech (The Townsend Papers in the Humanties)
by Talal Asad, Judith Butler, Saba Mahmood, Wendy Brown
Paperback: 154 Pages (2009-11-01)
list price: US$16.95 -- used & new: US$15.23
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Asin: 0982329415
Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars
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In this volume, four leading thinkers of our times confront the paradoxes and dilemmas attending the supposed stand-off between Islam and liberal democratic values.Taking the controversial Danish cartoons of Mohammad as a point of departure, Talal Asad, Wendy Brown, Judith Butler, and Saba Mahmood inquire into the evaluative frameworks at stake in understanding the conflicts between blasphemy and free speech, between religious taboos and freedoms of thought and expression, and between secular and religious world views. Is the language of the law an adequate mechanism for the adjudication of such conflicts? What other modes of discourse are available for the navigation of such differences in multicultural and multi-religious societies?What is the role of critique in such an enterprise? These are among the pressing questions this volume addresses.
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Customer Reviews (1)

2-0 out of 5 stars Jhaeman's Reviews
In the Fall of 2007, UC-Berkeley held a symposium on the topic "Is Critique Secular?" The results have been published in a slim 153-page volume, with the subtitle of "Blasphemy, Injury, and Free Speech." The book consists of two main essays, "Free Speech, Blasphemy and Secular Criticism" by Talal Asad, and "Religious Reason and Secular Affect: An Incommensurable Divide?" by Saba Mahmood, plus a response by Judith Butler and then replies to Butler's response by Asad and Mahmood.

An important thing to note is that these essays are written in the style of literary criticism, and bear all of the hallmarks of that discipline (anyone who has been to panels at the Modern Language Association will know what I'm talking about): they are jargon-heavy, opaque, discursive, theory-heavy, implicitly critical of the West, and prone to leaving the reader feel like a lot of words have been expended without concrete ideas having been expressed. A subtle implication throughout, one which I think lacks historical foundation, is that "blasphemy" is purely something the secular West does to the religious East as an act of oppression.

Those (very large) caveats aside, there is something interesting in Mahmood's essay, and Butler's response to it, on the nature of the "harm" felt by Muslims in response to the Danish Muhammed cartoons. Briefly put, the argument is that Muslims identify so strongly with the Prophet that insults to him bring about emotions of grief and emotional pain that are difficult to understand and account for in the traditional framework of "blasphemy vs. freedom of speech." As Butler explains it, the cartoons are problematic not because of the offensive ideas inherent within them but because they are seen as attempts to "coerce disbelief" and "any attempt to coerce someone away from his or her belief is an effort to break a relation to a transcendence by which one is sustained." (p. 118) ... Read more

16. Judith Butler: From Norms to Politics (Key Contemporary Thinkers)
by Moya Lloyd
Paperback: 216 Pages (2007-09-18)
list price: US$24.95 -- used & new: US$22.73
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Asin: 0745626122
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With the publication of her highly acclaimed and much-cited book Gender Trouble, Judith Butler became one of the most influential feminist theorists of her generation. Her theory of gender performativity and her writings on corporeality, on the injurious capacity of language, on the vulnerability of human life to violence and on the impact of mourning on politics have, taken together, comprised a substantial and highly original body of work that has a wide and truly cross-disciplinary appeal.

In this lively book, Moya Lloyd provides both a clear exposition and an original critique of Butler's work. She examines Butlers core ideas, traces the development of her thought from her first book to her most recent work, and assesses Butlers engagements with the philosophies of Hegel, Foucault, Derrida, Irigaray and de Beauvoir, as well as addressing the nature and impact of Butler's writing on feminist theory. Throughout Lloyd is particularly concerned to examine Butler's political theory, including her critical interventions in such contemporary political controversies as those surrounding gay marriage, hate-speech, human rights, and September 11 and its aftermath.

Judith Butler offers an accessible and original contribution to existing debates that will be an invaluable resource for students and scholars alike. ... Read more

17. Judith Butler: Sexual Politics, Social Change and the Power of the Performative
by Gill Jagger
Hardcover: 200 Pages (2008-03-12)
list price: US$140.00 -- used & new: US$115.00
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Asin: 0415219744
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Judith Butler's work on gender, sexuality, identity, and the body has proved massively influential across a range of academic disciplines in the humanities and social sciences. Yet it is also notoriously difficult to access.

This key book provides a comprehensive introduction to Butler's work, plus a critical examination of it and its precursors, both feminist (including Simone de Beauvoir, Monique Wittig, Julia Kristeva and Luce Irigaray), and non-feminist (including Erving Goffman, Michel Foucault, Jacques Lacan, and Jacques Derrida). The volume covers such topics as:

  • gender as performance and performativity
  • sociological notions of performance
  • the materiality of the body and the role of biology
  • power, identity and social regulation
  • subjectivity, agency and feminist political practice.

A comprehensive introduction to Butler’s work, this book also covers melancholia and gender identity, hate speech, pornography and 'race', social change and transformation, and Butler’s shifting relation to psychoanalysis.

Clearly laid out to cover key themes for a student audience, this key text will be an essential read for undergraduates in the fields of gender, psychoanalysis and sociology.

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18. Subjects of Desire
by Judith Butler
 Paperback: 268 Pages (1999-06-15)
list price: US$28.00 -- used & new: US$19.37
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Asin: 0231064519
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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This now classic work by one of the most important philosophers and critics of our time charts the trajectory of desire and its genesis from Hegel's formulation inthrough its appropriation by Kojève, Hyppolite, Sartre, Lacan, Deleuze, and Foucault, presenting how French reception of Hegel posed successive challenges to his metaphysics and view of the subject and revealed ambiguities within his position.provides a sophisticated account of the post-Hegelian tradition that has predominated in modern France and remains timely in thinking about contemporary debates concerning desire, the unconscious, subjection, and the subject. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

4-0 out of 5 stars Hegel in France
Judith Butler, who is nowadays best known for her theory of "performative" gender differenciation, wrote her thesis about the reception of Hegel's philosophy in France. The book is not an exhaustive overview of Hegelian reflections as they appeared, in various forms, in the twentieth century France, but it certainly does include the most important of them (except for Georges Bataille, whose version of Hegelianism is not mentioned in the book, but in her new preface, Judith Butler herself admits this absence). In the first part of the book, Butler deals with Kojeve's and Hyppolite's interpretations of Hegel's Phenomenology, while the second part is concerned with Sartre, Lacan, Foucault and Deleuze. Even though the book doesn't bring anything new to those who are already familiar with the work of the thinkers mentioned above, it may be read as an extremely clear and concise introduction to the French Hegelianism. ... Read more

19. The Power of Religion in the Public Sphere (A Columbia / SSRC Book)
by Judith Butler, Jurgen habermas, Charles Taylor, Cornel West
Paperback: 128 Pages (2011-02-11)
list price: US$19.50 -- used & new: US$19.50
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Asin: 0231156464
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The Power of Religion in the Public Sphere is a rare opportunity to experience a diverse group of preeminent philosophers confronting one all-encompassing contemporary concern: what role does or shouldreligion play in our public lives? Judith Butler's response reflects her recent work on state-sponsored violence in Israel, examining the function of religion within the context of cultural critique. Jurgen Habermas, best known for his innovative conception of the public sphere yet less of a commentator on religious practice, explores the limits of secularism, the enduring importance of religion, and the political significance of religious tolerance.On the heels of these interrogations, Charles Taylor takes stock of our post-Chistendom Christianity and the need for a radical redefinition of secularism, and Cornel West passionately defends civil disobedience and emancipatory theology, especially in the service of civil rights and opposition to war. In their introduction, Eduardo Mendieta and Jonathan VanAntwerpen detail the immense contribution of these philosophers to contemporary scholarship and, specifically, to the issues within this volume.In an afterword, Craig Calhoun discusses the effect of these approaches in national and international domains. ... Read more

20. Who Sings the Nation-State?: Language, Politics, Belonging
by Judith Butler, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak
Hardcover: 128 Pages (2007-11-13)
list price: US$19.95 -- used & new: US$19.95
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Asin: 1905422571
Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars
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In a world of migration and shifting allegiances--the state is a more provisional place and its inhabitants more stateless. What is contained in a state has become ever more plural while the boundaries of a state have become ever more fluid. No longer does a state naturally come with a nation.
This book is set in the form of a conversation between two renowned thinkers, Judith Butler and Gayatri Spivak, who discuss the fact that globalization has made things like national anthems and political boundaries obsolete. The result is a spirited and engaging conversation that ranges widely across Palestine, what Enlightenment and key contemporary philosophers have said about the state, who exercises power in today's world, whether we can have a right to rights, and even what the singing of "The Star Spangled Banner" in Spanish says about the complex world we live in today.
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Customer Reviews (5)

2-0 out of 5 stars On Language, Politics, Belonging: Look Elsewhere
This is not a good book. No contextual background is given for Butler and Spivak's theoretical dialogue on statelessness, and the dialogue itself is at turns pedantic (see Butler's punning on the word "state") and banal (see both critics' comments on the EU). The dialogue's alternating obfuscation and dullness may be accounted for by the fact that it appears to be a staged "conversation" between Butler and Spivak at a conference or symposium. Even on those terms, however, the book is a bit of a waste -- the pomp of the dialogue's tone is simply not matched by the critical points made in it. If you're looking for a much more engaged theoretical work on these issues, see Etienne Balibar's *We, the People of Europe?*

5-0 out of 5 stars Original, Brilliant
Although short, this book is one of the only inquiries into sovereignty that moves beyond the theoretical framework of Agamben, and begins to explore new vocabularies for addressing postcolonial subjectivity. Butler and Spivak breathe new life into a text by Ardent, which they use to theorize the relationship between language and sovereignty and expose an underlying condition of statelessness. I immensely enjoyed these great thinkers, and would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in political theory.

1-0 out of 5 stars Scholarly status is not a general license
Butler and Spivak have repeatedly earned respect for their scholarship.This (essays, dialogue, non-book?)"effort" seems to imply that their reputations will suffice in place of familiarity with the literatures of the central subjects on which they pontificate.They (ab)use well-established, still very much germane, concepts without regard to current usages by both mainstream and critical theory-grounded writers.It is as though they had invented their subjects yesterday:they make little effort to relate their comments to either the empirical or theoretical scholarship.The consequence should be treating this little volume the way its authors treat the bodies of relevant work on the theme they address; unfortunately a few persons may be sufficiently motivated by the names on the title-page to buy the book. Given its thin and airy (vacuous would not be too strong)content, however, is likely to be quickly forgotten.It fails to contribute to intellectual discourse

2-0 out of 5 stars Poorly edited scholarly effort
I have to second the previous reviewer's negative comments -- it accurately assesses the substantive shortcomings of this book -- and add my own 2 cents (and 2 stars) worth about some additional problems.The text is a apparently a transcript of a conference or panel discussion between Butler and Spivak, with some questions from audience members at the end of their exchange, but there is absolutely no introduction or even a brief statement to contextualize their statements.Was this in fact a conference or panel discussion?If so, where, and what was the conference title or topic?Without any of that information the reader is projected into the middle of a conversation without any explanation.It makes it hard to get one's bearings, and as the previous reviewer argues, there isn't much of substance to hang on to as you make your way through the book.Very disappointing effort from Spivak and Butler, as well as the editor/publisher of this book.

2-0 out of 5 stars Simulacra Scholarship
It is surely a reflection of the demand for the Latest on globalization and the nation-state from highly commodified theorists that this super-slender hardcover volume (with approx. 120 words per page) hit a sales rank consistently below 5,000 on Amazon.com for weeks prior to its release. The scandal is that neither Butler nor Spivak have an in-depth knowledge of globalization or nationalism, but their comments and sound-bytes will soon be the most widely cited on these topics. Their iconic status as all-purpose references is built on a simulacra of scholarship that depends on two factors: 1) an audience that is unwilling to do the in-depth reading to understand globalization but wants sound-bytes to stay current and relevant and 2) the license granted to some celebrity scholars to comment on subjects well beyond their expertise.

Butler comes up with the astonishing claim (p. 13) that hardly anyone writes about statelessness in the social sciences now (what has she been reading?!); and Spivak tops this with her declaration (p. 87) that "the European constitution is an economic document" (what happened to the articles on secularism, militarism, and human rights).In a revealing exchange, when Butler asks Spivak to clarify what she means by critical regionalism, Spivak careens from Evo Morales to East Asia to South Asia to Habermas, to undocumented workers in the United States, to Iran, to NATO, to Russia in 5 pages to make the wafer-thin conclusion: "It [critical regionalism] goes under and over nationalisms but keeps the abstract structures of something like a state." No other scholar would be allowed to hang an argument on this flimsy peg, but she can and does. Spivak dodges every call to define her terms or offer a sustained argument. Along the way, she tosses up terms like "critical regionalism" "sustainable exploitation" (when has exploitation not tried to be sustainable) which will soon be the buzzwords of the moment. Needless to say, there is a large body of work produced about the refigured regionalisms in Latin America, Asia, and Africa (often by scholars working in institutions in these regions) that makes Spivak seem superficial and glib. Indeed, the argument for regional human rights instruments has been made at least since the First World Conference on Human Rights in 1993, but of course this becomes citable only when it comes from a Spivak. The irony is that in humanities departments, it will be the Spivakisms that will circulate, while the other work will be strenuously ignored. To think that it was Spivak who first charged her interlocutors with "sanctioned ignorance."
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