Butler in March 2012.
February 24, 1956 |
Cleveland, Ohio, United States
|Era||20th / 21st-century philosophy|
|Part of a series on|
Judith Butler (born February 24, 1956) is an American philosopher and gender theorist whose work has influenced political philosophy, ethics and the fields of feminist, queer and literary theory. Since 1993, she has taught at the University of California, Berkeley, where she is now Maxine Elliot Professor in the Department of Comparative Literature and the Program of Critical Theory. She is also the Hannah Arendt Chair at the European Graduate School.
Academically, Butler is most well known for her books Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity and Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of Sex, which challenge notions of gender and develop her theory of gender performativity. This theory now plays a major role in feminist and queer scholarship. Her works are often implemented in film studies courses emphasizing gender studies and the performativity in discourse. She has also actively supported lesbian and gay rights movements and been outspoken on many contemporary political issues. In particular, she is a vocal critic of Israeli politics and its effect on the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, emphasizing that Israel does not and should not be taken to represent all Jews or Jewish opinion.
- 1 Early life and education
- 2 Overview of major works
- 2.1 Performative Acts and Gender Constitution (1988)
- 2.2 Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (1990)
- 2.3 "Imitation and Gender Insubordination" (1990)
- 2.4 Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of "Sex" (1993)
- 2.5 Excitable Speech: A Politics of the Performative (1997)
- 2.6 Undoing Gender (2004)
- 2.7 Giving an Account of Oneself (2005)
- 3 Reception
- 4 Political activism
- 5 Publications
- 6 Selected honors and awards
- 7 References
- 8 Further reading
- 9 External links
Early life and education
Judith Butler was born in Cleveland, Ohio, to a family of Hungarian and Russian Jewish descent. Most of her maternal grandmother's family perished in the Holocaust. As a child and teenager, she attended both Hebrew school and special classes on Jewish ethics, where she received her "first training in philosophy." Butler stated in a 2010 interview with Haaretz that she began the ethics classes at the age of 14 and that they were created as a form of punishment by her Hebrew school's Rabbi because she was "too talkative in class." Butler also stated that she was "thrilled" by the idea of these tutorials, and when asked what she wanted to study in these special sessions, she responded with three questions preoccupying her at the time: "Why was Spinoza excommunicated from the synagogue? Could German Idealism be held accountable for Nazism? And how was one to understand existential theology, including the work of Martin Buber?"
Butler attended Bennington College and then Yale University where she studied philosophy, receiving her B.A. in 1978 and her Ph.D. in 1984. She taught at Wesleyan University, George Washington University, and Johns Hopkins University before joining University of California, Berkeley, in 1993. In 2002 she held the Spinoza Chair of Philosophy at the University of Amsterdam. In addition, she joined the department of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University as Wun Tsun Tam Mellon Visiting Professor of the Humanities in the spring semesters of 2012, 2013 and 2014 with the option of remaining as full-time faculty.
Overview of major works
Performative Acts and Gender Constitution (1988)
In this essay, Judith Butler proposes her theory of gender performativity, which would be later taken up in 1990 throughout her work, Gender Trouble. She begins by grounding her theory of gender performativity in a feminist phenomenological point of view. She suggests that both phenomenology and feminism ground their theory in "lived experience". Further, in comparing Merleau-Ponty, French phenomenologist, and Simone de Beauvoir, Judith Butler reveals that both theories view the sexual body as a historical idea or situation; She accepts this notion of a "distinction between sex, as biological facticity, and gender, as the cultural interpretation or signification of that facticity". This combination of theories is essential for founding Butler's view of "theatrical" or performative genders in society.
Butler argues that it is more valid to perceive gender as a performance that an individual agent acts in. The performative element of her theory suggests a social audience. For Butler, the "script" of gender performance is effortlessly transmitted generation to generation in the form of socially established "meanings": She states, "gender is not a radical choice . . . [nor is it] imposed or inscribed upon the individual". Given the social nature of human beings, most actions are witnessed, reproduced, and internalized and thus take on a performative or theatric quality. Currently, the actions appropriate for men and women have been transmitted to produce a social atmosphere that both maintains and legitimizes a seemingly natural gender binary. Consistent with her acceptance of the body as a historical idea, she suggests that our concept of gender is seen as natural or innate because the body "becomes its gender through a series of acts which are renewed, revised, and consolidated through time".
She argues that the performance of gender itself creates gender. Additionally, Butler compares the performativity of gender to the performance of the theater. She brings many similarities, including the idea of each individual functioning as an actor of their gender. However she also brings into light a critical difference between gender performance in reality and theater performances. She explains how the theater is much less threatening and does not produce the same fear that gender performances often encounter because of the fact that there is a clear distinction from reality within the theater.
Butler uses Freud's notion of how a person's identity is modeled in terms of the normal. She revises Freud's notion of this concept's applicability to lesbianism, where Freud says that lesbians are modeling their behavior on men, the perceived normal or ideal. She instead says that all gender works in this way of performativity and a representing of an internalized notion of gender norms.
Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (1990)
Gender Trouble was first published in 1990, selling over 100,000 copies internationally and in different languages. Alluding to the similarly named 1974 John Waters film Female Trouble starring the drag queen Divine, Gender Trouble critically discusses the works of Simone de Beauvoir, Julia Kristeva, Sigmund Freud, Jacques Lacan, Luce Irigaray, Monique Wittig, Jacques Derrida, and, most significantly, Michel Foucault. The book has also enjoyed widespread popularity outside of traditional academic circles, even inspiring an intellectual fanzine, Judy!.
The crux of Butler's argument in Gender Trouble is that the coherence of the categories of sex, gender, and sexuality—the natural-seeming coherence, for example, of masculine gender and heterosexual desire in male bodies—is culturally constructed through the repetition of stylized acts in time. These stylized bodily acts, in their repetition, establish the appearance of an essential, ontological "core" gender. This is the sense in which Butler famously theorizes gender, along with sex and sexuality, as performative. The performance of gender, sex, and sexuality, however, is not a voluntary choice for Butler, who locates the construction of the gendered, sexed, desiring subject within what she calls, borrowing from Foucault's Discipline and Punish, "regulative discourses." These, also called "frameworks of intelligibility" or "disciplinary regimes," decide in advance what possibilities of sex, gender, and sexuality are socially permitted to appear as coherent or "natural." Regulative discourse includes within it disciplinary techniques which, by coercing subjects to perform specific stylized actions, maintain the appearance in those subjects of the "core" gender, sex and sexuality the discourse itself produces.
A significant yet sometimes overlooked part of Butler's argument concerns the role of sex in the construction of "natural" or coherent gender and sexuality. Butler explicitly challenges biological accounts of binary sex, reconceiving the sexed body as itself culturally constructed by regulative discourse. The supposed obviousness of sex as a natural biological fact attests to how deeply its production in discourse is concealed. The sexed body, once established as a "natural" and unquestioned "fact," is the alibi for constructions of gender and sexuality, unavoidably more cultural in their appearance, which can purport to be the just-as-natural expressions or consequences of a more fundamental sex. On Butler's account, it is on the basis of the construction of natural binary sex that binary gender and heterosexuality are likewise constructed as natural. In this way, Butler claims that without a critique of sex as produced by discourse, the sex/gender distinction as a feminist strategy for contesting constructions of binary asymmetric gender and compulsory heterosexuality will be ineffective.
Thus, by showing both terms "gender" and "sex" as socially and culturally constructed, Butler offers a critique of both terms, even as they have been used by feminists. Butler argued that feminism made a mistake in trying to make “women” a discrete, ahistorical group with common characteristics. Butler said this approach reinforces the binary view of gender relations because it allows for two distinct categories: men and women. Butler believes that feminists should not try to define “women” and she also believes that feminists should “focus on providing an account of how power functions and shapes our understandings of womanhood not only in the society at large but also within the feminist movement”. Finally, Butler aims to break the supposed links between sex and gender so that gender and desire can be "flexible, free floating and not caused by other stable factors". The idea of identity as free and flexible and gender as a performance, not an essence, is one of the foundations of Queer theory.
"Imitation and Gender Insubordination" (1990)
Judith Butler explores the production of identities such as "homosexual" and "heterosexual" and the limiting nature of identity categories. An identity category for her is a result of certain exclusions and concealments, and thus a site of regulation. However, Butler also acknowledges that categorized identities are important for political action at present times. An important idea in this work is also that identity forms through repetition of acts or imitation and not due to a certain original identity that exists prior to repetition. Imitation gives the illusion of continuity to produces identities. In the same way, heterosexual identity, which is set up as an ideal requires constant "compulsive" repetition to protect the very identity repetition has created.
Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of "Sex" (1993)
Bodies That Matter seeks to clear up readings and supposed misreadings of performativity that view the enactment of sex/gender as a daily choice. To do this, Butler emphasizes the role of repetition in performativity, making use of Derrida's theory of iterability, a form of citationality, to work out a theory of performativity in terms of iterability:
Performativity cannot be understood outside of a process of iterability, a regularized and constrained repetition of norms. And this repetition is not performed by a subject; this repetition is what enables a subject and constitutes the temporal condition for the subject. This iterability implies that 'performance' is not a singular 'act' or event, but a ritualized production, a ritual reiterated under and through constraint, under and through the force of prohibition and taboo, with the threat of ostracism and even death controlling and compelling the shape of the production, but not, I will insist, determining it fully in advance. This concept is linked to Butler's discussion of performativity.
Iterability, in its endless undeterminedness as to-be-determinedness, is thus precisely that aspect of performativity that makes the production of the "natural" sexed, gendered, heterosexual subject possible, while also and at the same time opening that subject up to the possibility of its incoherence and contestation.[jargon]
Excitable Speech: A Politics of the Performative (1997)
In Excitable Speech, Butler surveys the problems of hate speech and censorship. She argues that censorship is difficult to evaluate, and that in some cases it may be useful or even necessary, while in others it may be worse than tolerance. She develops a new conception of censorship's complex workings, supplanting the myth of the independent subject who wields the power to censor with a theory of censorship as an effect of state power and, more primordially, as the condition of language and discourse itself.
Butler argues that hate speech exists retrospectively, only after being declared such by state authorities. In this way, the state reserves for itself the power to define hate speech and, conversely, the limits of acceptable discourse. In this connection, Butler criticizes feminist legal scholar Catharine MacKinnon's argument against pornography for its unquestioning acceptance of the state's power to censor.
Deploying Foucault's argument from the first volume of The History of Sexuality, Butler claims that any attempt at censorship, legal or otherwise, necessarily propagates the very language it seeks to forbid. As Foucault argues, for example, the strict sexual mores of 19th century Western Europe did nothing but amplify the discourse of sexuality it sought to control. Extending this argument using Derrida and Lacan, Butler claims that censorship is primitive to language, and that the linguistic I is a mere effect of an originary censorship. In this way, Butler questions the possibility of any genuinely oppositional discourse; "If speech depends upon censorship, then the principle that one might seek to oppose is at once the formative principle of oppositional speech".
Butler also questions the efficacy of censorship on the grounds that hate speech is context-dependent. Citing J.L. Austin's concept of the performative utterance, Butler notes that words' ability to “do things” makes hate speech possible but also at the same time dependent on its specific embodied context. Austin's claim that what a word does, its illocutionary force, varies with the context in which it is uttered implies that it is impossible to adequately define the performative meanings of words, including hate, abstractly. On this basis, Butler rejects arguments like Richard Delgado's which justify the censorship of certain specific words by claiming the use of those words constitutes hate speech in any context. In this way, Butler underlines the difficulty inherent in efforts to systematically identify hate speech.
Undoing Gender (2004)
Undoing Gender collects Butler's reflections on gender, sex, sexuality, psychoanalysis and the medical treatment of intersex people for a more general readership than many of her other books. Butler revisits and refines her notion of performativity and focuses on the question of undoing "restrictively normative conceptions of sexual and gendered life".
Butler discusses how gender is performed without one being conscious of it, but says that it does not mean this performativity is "automatic or mechanical". She argues that we have desires that do not originate from our personhood, but rather, from social norms. The writer also debates our notions of "human" and "less-than-human" and how these culturally imposed ideas can keep one from having a "viable life" as the biggest concerns are usually about whether a person will be accepted if his or her desires differ from normality. She states that one may feel the need of being recognized in order to live, but that at the same time, the conditions to be recognized make life "unlivable". The writer proposes an interrogation of such conditions so that people who resist them may have more possibilities of living.
In her discussion of intersex, Butler addresses the case of David Reimer, a person whose sex was medically "reassigned" from male to female after a botched circumcision at eight months of age. Reimer was "made" female by doctors, but later in life identified as "really" male, married and became a stepfather to his wife's three children, and went on to tell his story in As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised as a Girl, which he wrote with John Colapinto. Reimer committed suicide in 2004.
Giving an Account of Oneself (2005)
In Giving an Account of Oneself, Butler develops an ethics based on the opacity of the subject to itself; in other words, the limits of self-knowledge. Primarily borrowing from Theodor Adorno, Michel Foucault, Friedrich Nietzsche, Jean Laplanche, Adriana Cavarero and Emmanuel Levinas, Butler develops a theory of the formation of the subject. She theorizes the subject in relation to the social – a community of others and their norms – which is beyond the control of the subject it forms, as precisely the very condition of that subject's formation, the resources by which the subject becomes recognizably human, a grammatical "I", in the first place.
Butler accepts the claim that if the subject is opaque to itself the limitations of its free ethical responsibility and obligations are due to the limits of narrative, presuppositions of language and projection.
|“||"You may think that I am in fact telling a story about the prehistory of the subject, one that I have been arguing cannot be told. There are two responses to this objection. (1) That there is no final or adequate narrative reconstruction of the prehistory of the speaking "I" does not mean we cannot narrate it; it only means that at the moment when we narrate we become speculative philosophers or fiction writers. (2) This prehistory has never stopped happening and, as such, is not a prehistory in any chronological sense. It is not done with, over, relegated to a past, which then becomes part of a causal or narrative reconstruction of the self. On the contrary, that prehistory interrupts the story I have to give of myself, makes every account of myself partial and failed, and constitutes, in a way, my failure to be fully accountable for my actions, my final "irresponsibility," one for which I may be forgiven only because I could not do otherwise. This not being able to do otherwise is our common predicament" (page 78).||”|
Instead she argues for an ethics based precisely on the limits of self-knowledge as the limits of responsibility itself. Any concept of responsibility which demands the full transparency of the self to itself, an entirely accountable self, necessarily does violence to the opacity which marks the constitution of the self it addresses. The scene of address by which responsibility is enabled is always already a relation between subjects who are variably opaque to themselves and to each other. The ethics that Butler envisions is therefore one in which the responsible self knows the limits of its knowing, recognizes the limits of its capacity to give an account of itself to others, and respects those limits as symptomatically human. To take seriously one's opacity to oneself in ethical deliberation means then to critically interrogate the social world in which one comes to be human in the first place and which remains precisely that which one cannot know about oneself. In this way, Butler locates social and political critique at the core of ethical practice.
Butler’s work has been influential in feminist and queer theory, cultural studies, and continental philosophy. Yet her contribution to a range of other disciplines — such as psychoanalysis, literary, film, and performance studies as well as visual arts — has also been significant. Her theory of gender performativity as well as her conception of "critically queer" have not only transformed understandings of gender and queer identity in the academic world, but have shaped and mobilized various kinds of political activism, particularly queer activism, across the globe. Butler's work has also entered into contemporary debates on the teaching of gender, gay parenting, and the depathologization of transgender people. Indeed, so influential has Butler's challenge to traditional notions of sex and gender been that even Pope Benedict XVI has written critically about it.
Many academics and political activists maintain that Butler’s radical departure from the sex/gender dichotomy and her non-essentialist conception of gender — along with her insistence that power helps form the subject — revolutionized feminist and queer praxis, thought, and studies. Darin Barney of McGill University writes that:
|“||Butler's work on gender, sex, sexuality, queerness, feminism, bodies, political speech and ethics has changed the way scholars all over the world think, talk and write about identity, subjectivity, power and politics. It has also changed the lives of countless people whose bodies, genders, sexualities and desires have made them subject to violence, exclusion and oppression.||”|
Others scholars have been more critical. In 1998, Denis Dutton's journal Philosophy and Literature awarded Butler first prize in its fourth annual "Bad Writing Competition," which set out to "celebrate bad writing from the most stylistically lamentable passages found in scholarly books and articles." Her unwitting entry, which ran in a 1997 issue of the scholarly journal Diacritics, ran thusly:
|“||The move from a structuralist account in which capital is understood to structure social relations in relatively homologous ways to a view of hegemony in which power relations are subject to repetition, convergence, and rearticulation brought the question of temporality into the thinking of structure, and marked a shift from a form of Althusserian theory that takes structural totalities as theoretical objects to one in which the insights into the contingent possibility of structure inaugurate a renewed conception of hegemony as bound up with the contingent sites and strategies of the rearticulation of power.||”|
Dutton discontinued the contest after critics opposed its hostile spirit.
Some critics have accused Butler of elitism due to her difficult prose style, while others claim that she reduces gender to "discourse" or promotes a form of gender voluntarism. Susan Bordo, for example, has argued that Butler reduces gender to language, contending that the body is a major part of gender, thus implicitly opposing Butler's conception of gender as performed. A particularly vocal critic has been liberal feminist Martha Nussbaum, who has argued that Butler misreads J.L. Austin's idea of performative utterance, makes erroneous legal claims, forecloses an essential site of resistance by repudiating pre-cultural agency, and provides no normative ethical theory to direct the subversive performances that Butler endorses. Finally, Nancy Fraser's critique of Butler was part of a famous exchange between the two theorists. Fraser has suggested that Butler's focus on performativity distances her from “everyday ways of talking and thinking about ourselves. […] Why should we use such a self-distancing idiom?”
Butler responded to criticisms of her prose in the preface to her 1999 book, Gender Trouble.
More recently, several critics - most prominently, Viviane Namaste - have criticised Judith Butler’s Undoing Gender for under-emphasizing the intersectional aspects of gender-based violence. For example, Timothy Laurie notes that Butler's use of phrases like “gender politics” and “gender violence” in relation to assaults on transgender individuals in the USA can "[scour] a landscape filled with class and labour relations, racialised urban stratification, and complex interactions between sexual identity, sexual practices and sex work", and produce instead "a clean surface on which struggles over 'the human' are imagined to play out". Nevertheless, both Namaste and Laurie acknowledge the enduring importance of Butler's critical contributions to the study of gender identities.
Much of Butler's early political activism centered around queer and feminist issues, and she served, for a period of time, as the chair of the board of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission. Over the years, she has been particularly active in the gay and lesbian rights, feminist, and anti-war movements. She has also written and spoken out on issues ranging from affirmative action and gay marriage to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the prisoners detained at Guantanamo Bay. More recently, she has been active in the Occupy movement and has publicly expressed support for a version of the 2005 BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) campaign against Israel.
On September 7, 2006, Butler participated in a faculty-organized teach-in against the 2006 Lebanon War at the University of California, Berkeley. Another widely publicized moment occurred in June 2010, when Butler refused the Civil Courage Award (Zivilcouragepreis) of the Christopher Street Day (CSD) Parade in Berlin, Germany at the award ceremony. She cited racist comments on the part of organizers and a general failure of CSD organizations to distance themselves from racism in general and from anti-Muslim excuses for war more specifically. Criticizing the event's commercialism, she went on to name several groups that she commended as stronger opponents of "homophobia, transphobia, sexism, racism, and militarism".
In October 2011, Butler attended Occupy Wall Street and, in reference to calls for clarification of the protesters' demands, she said: "People have asked, so what are the demands? What are the demands all of these people are making? Either they say there are no demands and that leaves your critics confused, or they say that the demands for social equality and economic justice are impossible demands. And the impossible demands, they say, are just not practical. If hope is an impossible demand, then we demand the impossible – that the right to shelter, food and employment are impossible demands, then we demand the impossible. If it is impossible to demand that those who profit from the recession redistribute their wealth and cease their greed, then yes, we demand the impossible."
She is currently an executive member of the Faculty for Israeli-Palestinian Peace in the United States and The Jenin Theatre in Palestine. She is also a member of the advisory board of Jewish Voice for Peace.
When Butler received the 2012 Adorno Prize, the prize committee came under attack from Israel's Ambassador to Germany Yakov Hadas-Handelsman, the director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center office in Jerusalem, Dr. Efraim Zuroff, and the German Central Council of Jews. They were upset at Butler's selection because of her remarks about Israel and specifically her "calls for a boycott against Israel." Butler responded saying that "she did not take attacks from German Jewish leaders personally." Rather, she wrote, the attacks are "directed against everyone who is critical against Israel and its current policies."
In a letter in Mondoweiss, Butler stated that she developed strong ethical views on the basis of Jewish philosophical thought and that it is "blatantly untrue, absurd, and painful for anyone to argue that those who formulate a criticism of the State of Israel is anti-Semitic or, if Jewish, self-hating."
Comments on Hamas and Hezbollah
Butler was criticized for statements she had made about Hamas and Hezbollah. She had described them as “social movements that are progressive, that are on the Left, that are part of a global Left”. She was accused of defending "Hezbollah and Hamas as progressive organizations" and supporting their tactics.
Butler responded to these criticisms by stating that her remarks on Hamas and Hezbollah were taken completely out of context and badly, if not wittingly, distort her established views on non-violence. She has repeatedly condemned the violence and non-democratic actions of these groups while clearly advocating for a politics committed to non-violence. In a recent interview she explained that Hamas and Hezbollah are "progressive" insofar as they do address infrastructural needs that are quite acute under occupation. Precisely because such groups are supplying important social services, it becomes harder—yet more urgent—to find ways of persuading people not to support their violent tactics.
Butler describes the origin of her remarks on Hamas and Hezbollah in the following way: "I was asked by a member of an academic audience a few years ago whether I thought Hamas and Hezbollah belonged to “the global left” and I replied with two points. My first point was merely descriptive: those political organizations define themselves as anti-imperialist, and anti-imperialism is one characteristic of the global left, so on that basis one could describe them as part of the global left. My second point was then critical: as with any group on the left, one has to decide whether one is for that group or against that group, and one needs to critically evaluate their stand."
Comments on Black Lives Matter
In a January 2015 interview with George Yancy of The New York Times, Butler discussed the Black Lives Matter movement. The dialogue draws heavily on her 2004 book Precarious Life: The Powers of Mourning and Violence.
Her books include Subjects of Desire: Hegelian Reflections in Twentieth Century France (1987, 1999), Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (1990, 2007), Bodies that Matter: On the Discursive Limits of "Sex" (1993, 2011), Excitable Speech: A Politics of the Performative (1997), The Psychic Life of Power: Theories in Subjection (1997), Antigone’s Claim: Kinship Between Life and Death (2000), Undoing Gender (2004), Precarious Life: Powers of Violence and Mourning (2004), Giving an Account of Oneself (2005), Krieg und Affect (2009), Frames of War: When is Life Grievable? (2009). Her most recent monograph is Parting Ways: Jewishness and the Critique of Zionism (2012). All of her books have been translated into numerous languages; Gender Trouble, alone, has been translated into twenty-seven different languages. In addition, she has co-authored and edited over a dozen volumes — the most recent of which is Dispossession: The Performative in the Political (2013), coauthored with Athena Athanasiou. Over the years she has also published many influential essays, interviews, and public presentations. Butler is considered by many as "one of the most influential voices in contemporary political theory," and as the most widely read and influential gender theorist in the world.
The following is a partial list of Butler's publications.
- 2015: Notes Toward a Performative Theory of Assembly : ISBN 978-0674967755
- 2015: Senses of the Subject : ISBN 978-0823264674
- 2013: Dispossession: The Performative in the Political, coauthored with Athena Athanasiou : ISBN 978-0745653815
- 2012: Parting Ways: Jewishness and the Critique of Zionism : ISBN 0-231-14610-8
- 2011: Europe, N° 983, mars 2011 : Georges Perros co-authored by Avital Ronell and Joseph Joubert : ISBN 2-351-50038-5
- 2011: The Question of Gender : Joan W. Scott's critical feminism : ISBN 0-253-35636-9
- 2011: The Power of Religion in the Public Sphere : ISBN 0-231-15645-6
- 2010: "Judith Butler Interviewed by N. & R. Blanchet" in Hurly-Burly, Issue 3 : ISSN 2101-0307
- 2009: "Ronell as Gay Scientist" in Reading Ronell, a collection of essays on the work of Avital Ronell, edited by Diane Davis : ISBN 978-0-252-07647-3
- 2009: Frames of War: When Is Life Grievable? : ISBN 1-84467-333-2
- 2009: Is Critique Secular?: Blasphemy, Injury, and Free Speech : ISBN 0-9823294-1-5
- 2007: Who Sings the Nation-State?: Language, Politics, Belonging (with Gayatri Spivak) : ISBN 1-905422-57-1
- 2005: Giving An Account of Oneself : ISBN 0-8232-2504-6
- 2005: "Subjects of Sex/Gender/Desire" pp. 145–153 in Feminist theory: a philosophical anthology (edited by Ann Cudd and Robin O. Andreasen): ISBN 9781405116619
- 2004: Undoing Gender : ISBN 0-415-96923-9
- 2004: Precarious Life: The Powers of Mourning and Violence : ISBN 1-84467-544-0
- 2003: Kierkegaard's Speculative Despair in The age of German idealism (edited by Robert C. Solomon): ISBN 0-415-30878-X
- 2003: Women and Social Transformation (with Elisabeth Beck-Gernsheim and Lídia Puigvert) : ISBN 0-8204-6708-1
- 2002: Prejudicial Appearances: The Logic of American Antidiscrimination Law : ISBN 0-8223-2713-9
- 2001: "Sexual Difference As a Question of Ethics". bodies of Resistance [edited by Laura Doyle]. ISBN 0-8101-1847-5
- 2000: Contingency, Hegemony, Universality: Contemporary Dialogues on the Left (with Ernesto Laclau and Slavoj Žižek) : ISBN 1-85984-278-X
- 2000: Antigone's Claim: Kinship Between Life and Death : ISBN 0-231-11895-3
- 1997: The Psychic Life of Power: Theories in Subjection : ISBN 0-8047-2812-7
- 1997: Excitable Speech: A Politics of the Performative : ISBN 0-415-91587-2
- 1994: Feminist Contentions: A Philosophical Exchange (with Seyla Benhabib, Nancy Fraser, and Drucilla Cornell) ISBN 9780415910866
- 1993: Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of "Sex" : ISBN 0-415-90365-3
- 1991: "Imitation and Gender Insubordination" in Inside/Out: Lesbian Theories, Gay Theories (edited by Diana Fuss): ISBN 0-415-90237-1
- 1990: Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity : ISBN 0-415-38955-0
- 1990: "The Pleasures of Repetition" in Pleasure Beyond the Pleasure Principle: The Role of Affect in Motivation, Development, and Adaptation (edited by Robert A. Glick and Stanley Bone): ISBN 978-0-300-04793-6
- 1987: Subjects of Desire: Hegelian Reflections in Twentieth-Century France : ISBN 0-231-06451-9
- 1982: "Lesbian S & M: the politics of dis-illusion" in Against Sadomasochism: A Radical Feminist Analysis (edited by Robin Ruth Linden): ISBN 0-960-36283-5
Selected honors and awards
- 2014: Named one of PinkNews’s top 11 Jewish gay and lesbian icons 
- 2014: Doctorate of Letters, honoris causa, University of Fribourg 
- 2013: Doctorate of Letters, honoris causa, University of St. Andrews 
- 2013: Doctorate of Letters, honoris causa, McGill University 
- 2012: Theodor W. Adorno Award
- 2010: "25 Visionaries Who Are Changing Your World", Utne Reader
- 1999: Guggenheim Fellowship
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- "Judith Butler". McGill Reporter. McGill. Retrieved October 9, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- Gans, Chaim (December 13, 2013). "Review of Judith Butler's "Parting Ways: Jewishness and the Critique of Zionism"". Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews. Retrieved September 23, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- "US-Philosophin Butler: Israel vertritt mich nicht". Der Standard. September 15, 2012. Retrieved September 15, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- Maclay, Kathleen (March 19, 2009). "Judith Butler wins Mellon Award". UC Berkeley News. Media Relations. Retrieved March 1, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- Regina Michalik (May 2001). "Interview with Judith Butler". Lola Press. Retrieved March 1, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- Udi, Aloni (February 24, 2010). "Judith Butler: As a Jew, I was taught it was ethically imperative to speak up". Haaretz. Retrieved October 9, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- "Judith Butler, Hannah Arendt Professor of Philosophy – Biography". The European Graduate School. Saas-Fee, Switzerland. Retrieved March 6, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- "Judith Butler and Michael Roth: A Conversation at Wesleyan University's Center for Humanities". Wesleyan University.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- "Judith Butler- Biography". The European Graduate School.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- "Tanner Lecture on Human Values: 2004–2005 Lecture Series". UC Berkeley. March 2005. Retrieved March 1, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- "Judith Butler to Join Columbia U. as a Visiting Professor". Chronicle of Higher Education. October 20, 2010. Retrieved February 1, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- Woolfe, Zachary (October 10, 2010). "Professor trouble! Post-structuralist star Judith Butler headed to Columbia". New York, New York: Capital New York. Retrieved February 1, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- Butler, Judith (November 17, 2015). "Performative Acts and Gender Constitution: An Essay in Phenomenology and Feminist Theory". Theatre Journal.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- Rivkin, Julie, and Michael Ryan. Literary Theory: An Anthology. 2nd ed. Malden, Massachusetts: Blackwell Pub., 2004. Print.
- Butler, Judith (1999) . Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. New York: Routledge. xxviii–xxix. ISBN 84-493-2030-5.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- Larissa MacFarquhar, "Putting the Camp Back into Campus," Lingua Franca (September/October 1993); see also Judith Butler, "Decamping," Lingua Franca (November–December 1993).
- Butler explicitly formulates her theory of performativity in the final pages of Gender Trouble, specifically in the final section of her chapter "Subversive Bodily Acts" entitled "Bodily Inscriptions, Performative Subversions" and elaborates performativity in relation to the question of political agency in her conclusion, "From Parody to Politics." See Butler, Judith (1999) . Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. New York: Routledge. pp. 171–90. ISBN 84-493-2030-5.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- For Butler's critique of biological accounts of sexual difference as a ruse for the cultural construction of "natural" sex, see Butler, Judith (1999) . "Concluding Unscientific Postscript". Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. New York: Routledge. pp. 135–41. ISBN 84-493-2030-5.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- For Butler's discussion of the performative co-construction of sex and gender see Butler, Judith (1999) . Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. New York: Routledge. pp. 163–71, 177–8. ISBN 84-493-2030-5.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> The signification of sex is also addressed in connection with Monique Wittig in the section "Monique Wittig: Bodily Disintegrations and Fictive Sex," pp. 141–63
- For Butler's problematization of the sex/gender distinction see Butler, Judith (1999) . Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. New York: Routledge. pp. 9–11, 45–9. ISBN 84-493-2030-5.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- "Judith Butler". Oxford reference Online Premium.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- "Feminist Perspectives on Sex and Gender". Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- Butler, Judith. "Imitation and Gender Insubordination1." Cultural theory and popular culture: A reader 1 (2006): 255.
- For example, Jeffreys, Sheila (September–October 1994). "The queer disappearance of lesbians: Sexuality in the academy". Women's Studies International Forum. Elsevier. 17 (5): 459–472. doi:10.1016/0277-5395(94)00051-4.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- Butler, Judith (1993). Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of "Sex". New York: Routledge. p. 95. ISBN 0-415-90365-3.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- Jagger, Gill (2008). Judith Butler: Sexual politics, social change and the power of the performative. New York: Routledge. pp. 115–8. ISBN 978-0-415-21975-4.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- Butler, Judith (1997). Excitable Speech: A Politics of the Performative. New York: Routledge. pp. 129–33. ISBN 0-415-91588-0.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- For example, Foucault, Michel (1990) . The History of Sexuality: An Introduction. Vol 1. Trans. Robert Hurley. New York: Vintage. p. 23.
A censorship of sex? There was installed [since the 17th century] rather an apparatus for producing an ever greater quantity of discourse about sex, capable of functioning and taking effect in its very economy.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- Butler, Judith (1997). Excitable Speech: A Politics of the Performative. New York: Routledge. p. 140. ISBN 0-415-91588-0.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- Butler, Judith (2004). Undoing Gender. New York: Routledge
- Colapinto, J (June 3, 2004). "Gender Gap: What were the real reasons behind David Reimer's suicide?". Slate. Retrieved February 13, 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- Aránguiz, Francisco (June 2011). "Meaningful "Protests" in the Kitchen: An Interview with Judith Butler" (PDF). White Rabbit: English Studies in Latin America. 1. Retrieved October 9, 2013. Unknown parameter
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- Butler, Judith. "Judith Butler's Statement on the Queer Palestinian Activists Tour". alQaws for Sexual & Gender Diversity in Palestinian Society. Retrieved October 9, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- Butler, Judith (September 2011). "Bodies in Alliance and the Politics of the Street". European Institute for Progressive Cultural Policies (eipcp). Retrieved October 9, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- Butler, Judith (May 2010). "Queer Alliance and Anti-War Politics". War Resisters' International (WRI). Retrieved October 9, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- Saar, Tsafi (February 21, 2013). "Fifty shades of gay: Amalia Ziv explains why her son calls her 'Dad'". Haaretz.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- McRobbie, Angela (January 18, 2009). "The pope doth protest". The Guardian. Retrieved October 9, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- Rottenberg, Catherine (August 27, 2003). "Judith Butler". The Literary Encyclopedia. Retrieved October 9, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- Barney, Darin. "In Defense of Judith Butler". Huffington Post. Retrieved October 9, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- Dutton, Denis (1998). "Bad Writing Contest".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- Thorkelson, Eli (April 2007). "The case of the Bad Writing Contest: Literary theory as commodity and literary theorists as brands" (pdf).<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- Hekman, Susan. “Material Bodies.” Body and Flesh: a Philosophical Reader. Ed. Donn Welton. Blackwell Publishing. 61–70. Accessed through Google Books on Feb 24, 2008.
- The Professor Parody
- Fraser, Nancy. “False Antitheses.” Feminist Contentions: A Philosophical Exchange. Routledge. 67. Accessed through Google Books on Feb 24, 2008.
- Margaret Soenser Breen 2 and Warren J. Blumenfeld,3 4 with Susanna Baer, Robert Alan Brookey, Lynda Hall, Vicky Kirby, Diane Helene Miller, Robert Shail, and Natalie Wilson. "There is A Person Here"1 : An Interview with Judith Butler International Journal of Sexuality and Gender Studies. Vol. 6, No. 1/2, 2001.
- Namaste, Viviane. 2009. "Undoing Theory: The "Transgender Question" and the Epistemic Violence of Anglo-American Feminist Theory." Hypatia 24 (3):pp. 11-32.
- Laurie, Timothy (2014), "The Ethics of Nobody I Know: Gender and the Politics of Description", Qualitative Research Journal, 14 (1): 72<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- "Coming attractions for fall 2006". UC Berkeley. Retrieved September 6, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- Butler, Judith. I must distance myself from this complicity with racism (Video) (Transcript). Christopher Street Day 'Civil Courage Prize' Day Refusal Speech. European Graduate School. June 19, 2010.
- Butler, Judith (August 27, 2012). "Judith Butler responds to attack: 'I affirm a Judaism that is not associated with state violence'". Mondoweiss. Retrieved October 9, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- Envoy to Germany: Awardee ignores terror on Israel
- German Jews oppose award for US philosopher
- Frankfurt Ripped for Honoring Jewish American scholar who backs Israel boycott
- JTA (September 7, 2012). "Frankfurt ripped for honoring Jewish-American scholar who backs Israel boycott". Haaretz. Retrieved October 9, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- Petra Marquardt-Bigman, "Defending Judith Butler in The Ivory Tower", The Algemeiner Journal, September 7, 2012.
- Weinthal, Benjamin (August 26, 2012). "Frankfurt to award US advocate of Israel boycott". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved October 9, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- Illouz, Eva (September 20, 2012). "Judith Butler gets a taste of her own politics". Haaretz. Retrieved October 9, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- "Willing the impossible: an interview with Judith Butler". Open Democracy. July 23, 2013. Retrieved October 9, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- Yancy, George; Butler, Judith (January 12, 2015). "What's Wrong With 'All Lives Matter'?". New York Times. New York Times. Retrieved March 7, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- Derek Wai Ming Barker, "Judith Butler's Postmodern Antigone," in Tragedy and Citizenship: Conflict, Reconciliation, and Democracy from Haemon to Hegel, p. 119, SUNY Press, 2009, ISBN 0791476294
- Ian, Buchanan (2010). A Dictionary of Critical Theory. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780191726590. Retrieved October 9, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- "Birkbeck, Department of Psychosocial Studies". Visiting Academics. Retrieved February 12, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- "La philosophe américaine Judith Butler honorée à Fribourg". laliberte.ch. La Liberté. Retrieved November 17, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- "HONORANDS FROM 2007-2014" (PDF). University of St Andrews. Retrieved November 18, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- McGill Reporter. "Judith Butler, Doctor of Letters, honoris causa BA, MA MPhil, PhD (Yale University) Faculty of Arts, Thursday, May 30, 10 a.m." McGill Reporter. Retrieved June 2, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- Smith, Amelia (August 28, 2012). "Judith Butler wins Theodor Adorno Prize despite opponents". Middle East Monitor.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- "Judith Butler: War Empathizer". Retrieved October 19, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- Chambers, Samuel A. and Terrell Carver. ''Judith Butler and Political Theory: Troubling Politics. New York: Routledge, 2008. : ISBN 0-415-76382-7
- Cheah, Pheng, "Mattering," Diacritics, Volume 26, Number 1, Spring 1996, pp. 108–139.
- Kirby, Vicki. Judith Butler: Live Theory. London: Continuum, 2006. : ISBN 0-8264-6293-6
- Eldred, Michael, 'Metaphysics of Feminism: A Critical Note on Judith Butler's Gender Trouble' 2008.
- Evans, Adrienne; Riley, Sarah; Shankar, Avi (2010). "Technologies of sexiness: theorizing women's engagement in the sexualization of culture". Feminism & Psychology. 20: 114–131. doi:10.1177/0959353509351854.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> From the paper's abstract: In this paper we contribute to these [sexualization of culture] debates by presenting ‘technologies of sexiness’, a theoretical framework that draws on Foucauldian theorizing of technologies of the self and Butler’s work on performativity.
- Kulick, Don (April 2003). "No". Language & Communication. Elsevier. 23 (2): 139–151. doi:10.1016/S0271-5309(02)00043-5.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> Pdf. Considers performativity from a linguistic perspective.
- Salih, Sarah. The Judith Butler Reader. Malden, Massachusetts: Blackwell, 2004. : ISBN 0-631-22594-3
- —. ''Routledge Critical Thinkers: Judith Butler. New York: Routledge, 2002. : ISBN 0-415-21519-6
- Schippers, Birgit. The Political Philosophy of Judith Butler. New York: Routledge, 2014. : ISBN 0415522129
- Thiem, Annika. Unbecoming Subjects: Judith Butler, Moral Philosophy, and Critical Responsibility, New York: Fordham University Press, 2008. : ISBN 0-8232-2899-1
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- Biography – University of California, Berkeley
- Biography – European Graduate School
- Works by or about Judith Butler in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
- on YouTube approach the notion of affinity through a discussion of "Disruptive Kinship," co-sponsored by Villa Gillet and the School of Writing at The New School for Public Engagement.
- Interview of Judith Butler about her new book "Frames of War" on New Statesman
- Review of "Giving an Account of Oneself. Ethical Violence and Responsibility", by Judith Butler, Barcelona Metropolis Autumn 2010. (English)
- "Dictionary of Literary Biography on Judith P. Butler (page 3)"
- Interview with Judith Butler about politics, economy, control societies, gender and identity (2011)
- on YouTube