Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of Sex

Overview

In Bodies That Matter, Judith Butler further develops her distinctive theory of gender by examining the workings of power at the most "material" dimensions of sex and sexuality. Deepening the inquiries she began in Gender Trouble, Butler offers an original reformulation of the materiality of bodies, examining how the power of heterosexual hegemony forms the "matter" of bodies, sex, and gender.
Butler argues that power operates to constrain "sex" from the start, delimiting what counts as a viable sex. She offers a clarification of the notion of "performativity" introduced in Gender Trouble and explores the meaning of a citational politics. The text includes readings of Plato, Irigaray, Lacan, and Freud on the formation of materiality and bodily boundaries; "Paris is Burning," Nella Larsen's "Passing," and short stories by Willa Cather; along with a reconsideration of "performativity" and politics in feminist, queer, and radical democratic theory.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"As a philosopher of gender [Judith Butler] is unparalleled." – Village Voice

"Butler gives us a new way to think about the materiality of the body in the discursive performity operative in the materialization of sex. Following a common move in postmodern feminism, Butler sets out to demolish the sex/gender distinction that has formed the mainstay of the de Beauvorian and radical feminism's notion that gender, as a cultural construction, could be critiqued and politicized against the givenness of the body's biological sex. . . .What is new in Bodies That Matter is Butler's attempt to write more directly about race." – Signs

"Extending the brilliant style of interrogation that made her 1990 book Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity a landmark of gender theory/queer theory, Butler here continues to refine our understandings of the complexly performative character of sexuality and gender and to trouble our assumptions about the inherent subversiveness of dissident sexualities. . . . indispensable reading across the wide range of concerns that queer theory is currently addressing." – Artforum

"What the implications/limitations of 'sexing' are and how the process works comprise the content of this strikingly perceptive book. . . . Butler has written a most significant and provocative work that addresses issues of immediate social concern." – The Boston Book Review

"A brilliant and original analysis." – Drucilla Cornell, Rutgers University, USA

"...a classic." – Elizabeth Grosz

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781136807183
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis, Inc.
  • Publication date: 4/1/2011
  • Series: Routledge Classics Series
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eTextbook
  • Pages: 256
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Judith Butler is Maxine Elliot Professor in the Departments of Rhetoric and Comparative Literature and the Co-director of the Program of Critical Theory at the University of California, Berkeley. She is presently the recipient of the Andrew Mellon Award for Distinguished Academic Achievement in the Humanities.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Preface
Introduction 1
1 Bodies that Matter 27
2 The Lesbian Phallus and the Morphological Imaginary 57
3 Phantasmatic Identification and the Assumption of Sex 93
4 Gender Is Burning: Questions of Appropriation and Subversion 121
5 "Dangerous Crossing": Willa Cather's Masculine Names 143
6 Passing, Queering: Nella Larsen's Psychoanalytic Challenge 167
7 Arguing with the Real 187
8 Critically Queer 223
Notes 243
Index 285
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