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Queer Theory, Gender Theory: An Instant Primer

3.92  ·  Rating Details  ·  506 Ratings  ·  32 Reviews
A one-stop, no-nonsense introduction to the core of postmodern theory, particularly its impact on queer and gender studies. Nationally known gender activist Riki Wilchins combines straightforward prose with concrete examples from LGBT and feminist politics, as well as her own life, to guide the reader through the ideas that have forever altered our understanding of bodies, ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published August 1st 2004 by Alyson Books
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Michael Palkowski
May 04, 2013 Michael Palkowski rated it it was ok

The first three chapters deal with very brief parsimonious history lessons about the scope of activism that underpinned much of later queer theory and postmodern gender analysis. Although useful as a primer to someone trying to enter the subject from the beginning, It's still extremely thin and doesn't give much insight at all that isn't reproduced elsewhere in much better detail. It is replete with quite a few questionable statements as well such as:

"In a male centred culture, woman will alway
Sep 15, 2011 Adrianne rated it it was ok
This book was featured at the website of the local LGBT bookstore, for quite some time, so I thought it would be worth checking it out. At page 85, somewhere halfway through the book, I felt compelled to put it down. It was a chore reading it. Lacking passion and not even hinting at humor anywhere, I had the feeling I was listening to an one-tone-tune, in an ever flat landscape.
I wasn't into postmodernist theory anyway, and this book didn't any nearly convert me. I will probably return to it so
Jul 03, 2015 Vicky rated it really liked it
For someone with no background in philosophy, postmodern or modern theory, or queer theory, this book served as a good primer to postmodern gender theory. It also roughly sketched out the histories of feminism, gay rights, and transgender rights. It has a chapter about criticisms of postmodern theory as well.

It wa pulished in 2004, so some of the information may be out of date, and it is most definitely a book from America. It also touches on some semi-practical approaches to using postmodern th
Erin Reilly-Sanders
Jun 16, 2011 Erin Reilly-Sanders rated it really liked it
This is a bit more of a summary than typical but I think it gets at some of the strengths of the book particularly in the practical application of rather confusing theoretical perspective. I love the focus on stories, personal experiences, and constructive asides that Wilkins uses that make this quite readable and enjoyable.

Queer Theory, Gender Theory is a colloquial exploration of post modern theory applied to the issues of feminism, gender, and queer theory. Wilchins draws on her own experienc
Hannah Fulton
Oct 31, 2015 Hannah Fulton rated it really liked it
I found this to be a fairly good introduction to queer theory and postmodernism. The edition I read had quite a few grammatical errors which made it choppy to read at times. In general it was an enjoyable read and insightful introduction.
Holli Lunan
Nov 19, 2014 Holli Lunan rated it really liked it
best thing i read was 'If sex is not just about reproduction, it is not just about genes, XY chromosomes, and hormones either. Sex is introduced to explain skeletal structure, mental aptitude, posture, emotional disposition, aesthetic preference, body fat, sexual orientation and responsiveness, athletic ability, social dominance, shape and weight, artistic ability. It is also supposed to explain any number of so-called "instincts", including the nesting instinct, the maternal instinct, and perha ...more
Jan 18, 2012 Heather rated it it was amazing
Shelves: glbt, orals-list, lit-crit
This is a really excellent book -- a great introduction to queer theory and gender theory as well as a very accessible overview of the theorists (Derrida, Foucault, and Butler in particular) that have shaped these two fields. I admire how Wilchins so clearly articulates some of the complex theoretical concepts I've been trying to work through in my own mind for years. I also admire her insistence that these theories need to be (and can be) applied through political action and social change.
Mar 02, 2009 Gabe rated it really liked it
This book is an excellent primer on gender theory and queer theory. It's accessible to a popular audience while still tacking the issues surrounding gender and how it is lived. The only thing that would keep me from giving this book 5 stars is that the last chapter is basically a commercial for the author's PAC. It left me feeling like the substance of the book was just the buildup of an infomercial. With that warning I'd easily recommend it to anyone interested in gender.
Aug 22, 2011 Karen rated it it was amazing
This book was wonderful! I love the fact that she brings her readers up to a higher level by presenting Foucault and other theorists in ways that are clear without dumbing anything down. The book reads as if she is saying "You CAN do theory!" She makes postmodernism seem totally relevant to life (though I liked postmodernism already, so I'm not the hardest to convince), and I liked the balance of academic and personal. I will probably reread this one.
Amy P.
Feb 22, 2008 Amy P. rated it really liked it
One of the problems with academic writing is make it accessible for the masses. Many academics write brilliant things that would benefit society at large, yet only other academics really understand it. However, the author does a great job in this book of break down such queer and gender theorists as Judith Butler and Michel Foucault so that anyone should be able to understand their general principles to their theories.
Feb 23, 2015 Aaron rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good primer on postmodernism and queer/gender theory. Disappointed by all the typographical errors--maybe they're native to the Kindle edition--but otherwise interesting and solid.
Aug 06, 2008 Broodingferret rated it really liked it
Finally, a primer on gender theory that is actually written in english and not the hoity-toity arcana of academia. Though I'm not fully convinced as to the validity or aplicability of her argument, Riki Wilchins does write very well and puts the previously indeciferable concepts of gender theory into easily understood language.

I wish this thing had a spell-check.
Kathleen O'Neal
Jun 30, 2013 Kathleen O'Neal rated it it was amazing
The best book on queer theory or gender theory that I have ever read. It's accessible without dumbing down the challenging thinkers whose work it presents. It succeeds brilliantly in making the work of postmodern philosophers relevant to the lives of LGBTQ people and essentially everyone. I cannot say enough good things about this book.
Heath Schultz
Dec 11, 2009 Heath Schultz rated it really liked it
I haven't read much queer theory, but have flirted with some of the post-structuralist/postmodernists that Wilchins explores in this text. It's very approachable without sacrificing the sophistication or complexity of theory, while explicitly pointing out the political and social implications of queer theory. Extremely helpful.
Michael Braithwaite
Jul 28, 2008 Michael Braithwaite rated it really liked it
This is not a lot of academic hoo-ha about gender theory. This IS a fascinating and at times hilarious easy read for anyone who wants an intro on gender theory (this includes intersex issues), queer theory, and generally anything kind of fucked up about the world in which we live. You've got to laugh at that though, yes? Yes.
Mar 04, 2012 Peggy rated it liked it
quite insightful introduction to gender theory. informs about the different movements and the quarrels between them. sometimes it reads slightly like a pamphlet for genderPAC, which it shouldn't as wilchins tries to have at least a pseudo scholarly approach to the subject.
Apr 16, 2008 David rated it really liked it
This book is really good because it gives the background on modern gender theory and queer theory. It is developed from a theoretical and historical perspective, thus making it easy for people not familiar with things such as feminist theory or post modernism.
Carmen something
May 12, 2007 Carmen something rated it really liked it
A short and powerful read about queering gender and lgbt movements. Complexifies the intersections of gender, power, identity, and sex in a most satisfying manner. I think I heart Wilchins.
Lori Perkins
Sep 24, 2014 Lori Perkins rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lgbt
This novel forms an interesting understanding of basic queer theory in the Post-Modern world, which helps create an understanding of homosexuality and how the world views the community
True to its title "an instant primer" succinctly and clearly covers Derrida, Foucault, issues of meaning, identity, gender, etc. This book is FULL and an easy read.
Piccolo saggio divulgativo sul genere abbastanza alla portata di tutti. Un piccolo bignamino sul pensiero filosofico degli ultimi 60 anni su sesso e genere.
Sara Jaye
Feb 21, 2008 Sara Jaye rated it really liked it
Shelves: queer-studies
A decent introduction for the very new. Somewhat toooo oversimplified for anyone looking for more than the most basic concepts in the most basic language.
Feb 28, 2009 Julie rated it liked it
It's amazing how destructive we can be when we box people into our binary view of gender. It's very sad, and I hope we can educate people so the damage stops.
Aug 02, 2010 Jenbscott rated it liked it
A good introduction to postmodern theories of sexuality presented in a far less confusing manner than the original texts on the subject.
Rae Ongley
Sep 02, 2014 Rae Ongley rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
A good introduction to queer theory for people who are unfamiliar with it, but it was personally too wordy and outdated for me
Aug 06, 2011 Sayra rated it liked it
I thought it was quite good, nice use of personal stories, but not as academic as I was expecting and wanting.
Apr 14, 2007 Anna rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2007reads
LOVED IT! The absolute very best explanation of postmodern theory queer theory. Extremely accessible language.
Read this book for school.
Oct 17, 2014 Liz rated it it was amazing
This is the book I wanted to write...
Mar 19, 2010 Malachi rated it it was amazing
Shelves: gender-sexuality
A fantastic Queer Theory Primer
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Riki Wilchins is an activist whose work has focused on the impact of gender norms. While she started out as a transgender leader -- founding the first national transgender advocacy group (GenderPAC) -- her analysis and work broadened over time to include discrimination and violence regardless of individuals' identity. While this perspective has been widely accepted, its breadth has provoked critic ...more
More about Riki Anne Wilchins...

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