One of the most talked-about scholarly works of the past fifty years, Judith Butler’s Gender Trouble is as celebrated as it is controversial.
Arguing that traditional feminism is wrong to look to a natural, ‘essential’ notion of the female, or indeed of sex or gender, Butler starts by questioning the category ‘woman’ and continues in this vein with examinations of ‘the masculine’ and ‘the feminine.’ Best known however, but also most often misinterpreted, is Butler’s concept of gender as a reiterated social performance rather than the expression of a prior reality.
Thrilling and provocative, few other academic works have roused passions to the same extent.
Judith Butler is an American post-structuralist and feminist philosopher who has contributed to the fields of feminism, political philosophy and ethics. She is currently a professor in the Rhetoric and Comparative Literature departments at the University of California, Berkeley. Butler received her Ph.D. in philosophy from Yale University in 1984, for a dissertation subsequently published as Subjects of Desire: Hegelian Reflections in Twentieth-Century France. In the late-1980s she held several teaching and research appointments, and was involved in “post-structuralist” efforts within Western feminist theory to question the “presuppositional terms” of feminism. Her research ranges from literary theory, modern philosophical fiction, feminist and sexuality studies, to 19th- and 20th-century European literature and philosophy, Kafka and loss, and mourning and war. Her most recent work focuses on Jewish philosophy and exploring pre- and post-Zionist criticisms of state violence.