Antigone's Claim: Kinship Between Life and Death

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Overview

The celebrated author of Gender Trouble here redefines Antigone's legacy, recovering her revolutionary significance and liberating it for a progressive feminism and sexual politics. Butler's new interpretation does nothing less than reconceptualize the incest taboo in relation to kinship -- and open up the concept of kinship to cultural change.

Antigone, the renowned insurgent from Sophocles's Oedipus, has long been a feminist icon of defiance. But what has remained unclear is ...

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Antigone's Claim: Kinship Between Life and Death

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Overview

The celebrated author of Gender Trouble here redefines Antigone's legacy, recovering her revolutionary significance and liberating it for a progressive feminism and sexual politics. Butler's new interpretation does nothing less than reconceptualize the incest taboo in relation to kinship -- and open up the concept of kinship to cultural change.

Antigone, the renowned insurgent from Sophocles's Oedipus, has long been a feminist icon of defiance. But what has remained unclear is whether she escapes from the forms of power that she opposes. Antigone proves to be a more ambivalent figure for feminism than has been acknowledged, since the form of defiance she exemplifies also leads to her death. Butler argues that Antigone represents a form of feminist and sexual agency that is fraught with risk. Moreover, Antigone shows how the constraints of normative kinship unfairly decide what will and will not be a livable life.

Butler explores the meaning of Antigone, wondering what forms of kinship might have allowed her to live. Along the way, she considers the works of such philosophers as Hegel, Lacan, and Irigaray. How, she asks, would psychoanalysis have been different if it had taken Antigone -- the "postoedipal" subject -- rather than Oedipus as its point of departure? If the incest taboo is reconceived so that it does not mandate heterosexuality as its solution, what forms of sexual alliance and new kinship might be acknowledged as a result? The book relates the courageous deeds of Antigone to the claims made by those whose relations are still not honored as those of proper kinship, showing how a culture of normative heterosexuality obstructs our capacity to see what sexual freedom and political agency could be.

Columbia University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Signs
Brief but powerful and provocative nook.

— Shireen R. K. Patell, New York University

Hagar: Studies in Culture Polity Identities

Thought-provoking and politically provocative... Bulter joins the great philosophical tradition which grapples with the ancient tragedy of Sophocles.

— Ido Geiger

Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy
Antigone's Claim is a work of intricate and detailed analysis of enormously difficult material. Butler masterfully leads us to... a newfound theoretical activism within the political domain.

— Maria Cimitile

Hagar: Studies in Culture Polity Identities
Thought-provoking and politically provocative... Bulter joins the great philosophical tradition which grapples with the ancient tragedy of Sophocles.

— Ido Geiger

The Nation - Georgette Fleischer

Butler is interested in Antigone as a liminal figure between the family and the state, between life and death... but also as a figure, like all her kin, who represents the non-normative family, a set of kinship relations that seems to defy the standard model... one senses in Butler's interest... homage to those who have lived, or have tried to live, and to those who have died 'on the sexual margins.'

Hypatia - Maria Cimitile

Antigone's Claim is a work of intricate and detailed analysis of enormously difficult material. Butler masterfully leads us to... a newfound theoretical activism within the political domain.

Signs - Shireen R. K. Patell

Brief but powerful and provocative nook.

Hagar: Studies in Culture Polity Identities - Ido Geiger

Thought-provoking and politically provocative... Bulter joins the great philosophical tradition which grapples with the ancient tragedy of Sophocles.

The Nation
Butler is interested in Antigone as a liminal figure between the family and the state, between life and death... but also as a figure, like all her kin, who represents the non-normative family, a set of kinship relations that seems to defy the standard model... one senses in Butler's interest... homage to those who have lived, or have tried to live, and to those who have died 'on the sexual margins.'

— Georgette Fleischer

Hypatia

Antigone's Claim is a work of intricate and detailed analysis of enormously difficult material. Butler masterfully leads us to... a newfound theoretical activism within the political domain.

— Maria Cimitile

Booknews
Presents the text of three of Butler's (rhetoric and comparative literature, U. of California-Berkeley) 1998 lectures exploring the meaning of Antigone. Questioning what forms of kinship might have allowed Antigone to live, Butler discusses the work of philosophers including Hegel, Lacan, and Irigaray and discusses how a culture of normative heterosexuality obstructs our capacity to see what sexual and political agency could be. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780231118958
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publication date: 5/16/2002
  • Series: Wellek Library Lectures Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 118
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 8.80 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Judith Butler is Maxine Elliot Professor of Rhetoric and Comparative Literature at the University of California at Berkeley. Her many acclaimed critical works include Subjects of Desire, Gender Trouble, The Psychic Life of Power, and Bodies That Matter.

Columbia University Press

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Table of Contents

Antigone's ClaimUnwritten Laws, Aberrant TransmissionsPromiscuous Obedience

Columbia University Press

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 1, 2013

    Angelstars life remedy

    If i die young, bury me in sand lay me down on a bed of roses sink me in the river at dawn send meee away with te rds of a life song.... wahooooh wahoooh wooooo... its like evry moment... du du du that i cant see no liiiiight.. DU Du du... if i could just tell me aparrrrrt from the afternooon dawn wooooah oooh my frieeeheind one more day and ill be goooooone one more ill be withered into dust just take me away. Just take me away from here.

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