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Queer Theory, Gender Theory: An Instant Primer

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  637 Ratings  ·  43 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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Jan 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, 2018
One of the main criticisms I've read of this book is that it doesn't go into too much depth and it's only useful as a primer. The clue's in the title, folks. "An Instant Primer".

Anyway, a primer into queer theory is what I was after and I found this really interesting and informative. Some stuff I already had knowledge about, but it explained some theories a little more to me and I enjoyed the stuff about the intersections of gender and sexuality and how the LGBT+ community has fragmented and ch
Michael Palkowski
Apr 28, 2013 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
Erin Reilly-Sanders
Jun 16, 2011 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
Sep 15, 2011 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
Matt Sautman
Aug 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Queer Theory, Feminist Theory is far more general than I anticipated. While I see value in this book for introducing people to more complex ideas, for those who are already familiar with these conversations (Derrida, Foucault, Butler, trans-issues) there is not too much to gather from this book. Wilchins doesn't complicate these conversations. Rather she presents them in a way that resonates in the book's subtitle, "an instant primer." This book hasn't altered how I see the world, but that has m ...more
Nathan Damigo
Feb 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
As an introduction to postmodernist theories of gender and queerness, this book hits the mark for those looking to comprehend Cultural Marxist logic. While postmodern queer & gender theorists such as the author have serious flaws with their theories that cannot be overcome due to the logical limitations of deconstructionism, the book was nevertheless insightful as to how adherents of the philosophy perceive these topics.
Carly Crosby
Aug 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is an amazing intro to post modernism in relation to queer theory. I found so much in this book and it changed the way I look at the world. Very intersectional and excellent view points on modern society and the way it was built.
For much of Queer Theory, Gender Theory, I was in love with the content of this book, but I may have gotten an ARC or something by accident because the writing was a bit of a mess. When it comes to books about issues and activism, I have hard time judging them on grammar, so let's get into the content first.

This would be an amazing book for any book club, but particularly for those that are feminist. Honestly, it may be great for an LGBT book club too, but there's a good possibility they've alre
Sep 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
The good:
A good starting point for postmodern theory, gender theory, and queer theory. It touches on all of the basics, but is certainly not anything that could be considered 'in depth' (but it never pretends to be). Throughout the book many other texts are quoted, especially Judith Butler's 'Gender Trouble', which serve as references and as suggestions for further reading (although since this book was published twelve years ago now, there has since been much more written and researched on these
Jun 26, 2015 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
Dawn Betts-Green (Dinosaur in the Library)
This is not a bad overview of the basics of Queer Theory. It could have been a bit more detailed in areas, but overall, it was okay. The major problem with this particular edition is the formatting; it's atrocious. The one I have is a later edition in which the formatting was done by ", " and it is a train wreck. Footnotes are in the body of the text, set apart by "NOTE" next to them, and there are so many typos and missing words, I almost lost my mind. I don't know what happened ...more
Holli Lunan
Oct 06, 2014 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
Aug 22, 2011 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.
Jul 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
As a simple introduction to queer and gender theory, this book is great for beginners. It does a nice job of giving an overview of the field, starting by a little history before moving to the theory per se.

Pros: great starting place, readable, and will give you references to go deeper.
Cons: sometimes too light on the theory (even for an Intro), it doesn't make for a rigorous exposé on the subject.
Amy P.
Feb 22, 2008 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.
Mar 02, 2009 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.
Jan 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 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.
Kathleen O'Neal
Jun 30, 2013 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.
Michael Braithwaite
Mar 04, 2008 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.
Aug 06, 2008 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.
Feb 20, 2012 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.
Jul 26, 2016 rated it liked it
As it says on the tin, this is a primer. It really only is a very basic intro to queer and gender theory, good to get a first overview of the subject.

It bugged me that sometimes the author seemed to try to "force" a certain identity onto some groups of people (e.g. trans for butches).
Apr 16, 2008 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.
Oct 31, 2015 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.
May 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: queer-theory
This is the book I wanted to write...
Mar 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book!!
Feb 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
Wilchins successfully bridges complex queer theory and social justice activism in this seminal text dedicated to post-modern queer theory.
Feb 28, 2009 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.
May 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
"Of course we Should all have equal rights. But what about the right to be defined by something other than sexuality or gender?"
Carmen something
May 12, 2007 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.
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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...