jtabz's Reviews > Gender Trouble

Gender Trouble by Judith Butler
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's review
Apr 11, 2012

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bookshelves: school-stuffs, critical-theory, philosophy
Read in January, 2012

Reading this book 20 years after it was published sort of makes you realize just how influential it really was, in part because of how intuitive Butler’s then-groundbreaking argument now seems to anyone with a basic understanding of postmodern theory.

It is not, however, without its frustrating qualities. To begin, Butler spends a good ¾ of the book (or more) explaining other peoples’ theories and arguing against them, leaving very little space for her to present her own contributions to these discourses. The fact that I’m “on board” with most of her conclusions, I suspect, has more to do with my perspective as someone reading the book from a post-postmodern vantage point than with the ways in which Butler presents her arguments. My collusion feels more the result of choir-preaching than genuine conversion. And the book could do a much better job linking psychoanalysis to the project of historical genealogy. The ways in which social history affects the psyche are implicit within her argument, but the inescapable fact of embodiment, which is central to psychoanalysis's theory of the drives, is completely overlooked. It's an issue that she writes Bodies That Matter in order to address, but, even there, she fails.

I suppose that's a matter for another book review, though.

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Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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message 1: by Megan (new)

Megan You're back at it! I haven't fully taken on _Gender Trouble_, but read a lot of Butler last semester (essays, interviews, chapters). Tough stuff. Great stuff.

jtabz Indeed! Binging off my "to read" list while I can.

My friend and I are actually reading this together now in preparation for a spring class we're taking in which we'll be reding Bodies that Matter and The Psychic Life of Power. I'm taking this one 20 pages a day to accommodate for my mushy winter break brain.

message 3: by Megan (new)

Megan Good job! I too am trying to ease back into reading-mode before classes start (Tuesday), but this is slow-moving and hardly denting the Victorian novel.

jtabz Tuesday... Eek! That's so soon.
I now feel especially grateful for the extra week and a half I have before I have to go back!

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