Judith Butler’s Gender Trouble: Theory, Sexuality, and Subversion
208 West 13th Street, #210
New York, NY 10011
Judith Butler’s Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity is a fundamental text for anyone interested in feminism, queer theory, and questions of gender and identity. The book is well known for its account of how certain kinds of performative practices construct what is regarded as “gender,” and how certain gendered practices—like drag—might become subversive. Gender Trouble has proved controversial, both for its treatment of the body as discursively produced and for its ambiguous “subversive” politics. How does Gender Trouble complicate, or help us make sense of, contemporary problems of feminism, identity, queerness, and politics?
This course will take Gender Trouble as its primary text, pairing it with critical and complementary supplementary readings. We will consider its historical context and theoretical frameworks. Why was it written when it was? With what other texts and ideas was it in conversation? We’ll grapple with the insights and limitations of its core arguments about gender and sexuality. In doing so, we’ll ask: How does Butler understand the relation between language and categories of sex and sexuality? What is the legacy of her argument for shifting the subject of feminism away from “women” to “gender”—especially in view of more recent studies of trans subjectivity? The course invites careful reading of Gender Trouble both by those familiar with Butler’s body of work and by first-time readers.
Course ScheduleTuesday, 6:30-9:30pm
March 03 — March 24, 2020