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Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (Routledge Classics) [Paperback]

Judith Butler
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)

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Book Description

May 12, 2006 0415389550 978-0415389556 1

One of the most talked-about scholarly works of the past fifty years, Judith Butler’s Gender Trouble is as celebrated as it is controversial.

Arguing that traditional feminism is wrong to look to a natural, 'essential' notion of the female, or indeed of sex or gender, Butler starts by questioning the category 'woman' and continues in this vein with examinations of 'the masculine' and 'the feminine'. Best known however, but also most often misinterpreted, is Butler's concept of gender as a reiterated social performance rather than the expression of a prior reality.

Thrilling and provocative, few other academic works have roused passions to the same extent.

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Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (Routledge Classics) + The History of Sexuality, Vol. 1: An Introduction
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Editorial Reviews Review

In a new introduction to the 10th-anniversary edition of Gender Trouble--among the two or three most influential books (and by far the most popular) in the field of gender studies--Judith Butler explains the complicated critical response to her groundbreaking arguments and the ways her ideas have evolved as a result. Nevertheless, she has resisted the urge to revise what has become a feminist classic (as well as an elegant defense of drag, given Butler's emphasis on the performative nature of gender). The book was produced, according to Butler, "as part of the cultural life of a collective struggle that has had, and will continue to have, some success in increasing the possibilities for a livable life for those who live, or try to live, on the sexual margins." An attack on the essentialism of French feminist theory and its basis in structuralist anthropology, Gender Trouble expands to address the cultural prejudices at play in genetic studies of sex determination, as well as the uses of gender parody, and also provides a critical genealogy of the naturalization of sex. A primer in gender studies--and sexy reading for college cafés. --Regina Marler --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Radical feminist Butler investigates the theoretical roots of an ontology of gender identity to show their political parameters. She questions traditional and feminist sex/gender distinctions, arguing that the basic concepts in this discourse are themselves produced by relations of power. The result is a subversive and sometimes original work drawing on Foucault, Lacan, Sartre, etc. Unfortunately, Butler's style is often difficult and unreadable, like the French philosophers who've influenced her, and her controversial ideas will try the patience of all but the most sympathetic scholars. Too bad. Her numerous critics would have had a field day with this variation of gender-is-culture argument, based on De Beauvoir's The Second Sex. Yet Butler is not as convincing as De Beauvoir, despite 19 pages of footnotes. For specialists only.
- Mark P. Maller, Cicero P.L., Ill.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; 1 edition (May 12, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415389550
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415389556
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 5 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #39,892 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Judith Butler is Maxine Elliot Professor in the Departments of Rhetoric and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Berkeley. She is the author of The Psychic Life of Power, Excitable Speech, Bodies that Matter, Gender Trouble, Frames of War, and with Slavoj Zizek and Ernesto Laclau, Contingency, Hegemony, Universality.


Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
111 of 124 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Come on Kindle! Clean it up. October 20, 2008
By Dr. PJ
Format:Kindle Edition
Of course Butler's books on gender are breathtaking classics and receive 5 stars from me in their print editions. I assign them all the time in my Gender Studies class. But this Kindle edition is messy. This is the problem I keep finding with the Kindle editions. It's insulting of Amazon to assume that Kindle readers don't care about clean editing and formatting. As a PhD student in Literature I am looking for a better tool for amassing my huge reading list. Students in every field would be ecstatic with a Kindle that actually served our needs. I also think Kindle is underestimating the common reader who also appreciates careful editting and presentation. We need to know more information about the Kindle editions--i.e. who edits and Introduces the volumes and whether they are exact replicas of their print editions. We also need to be able to cite actual page numbers from known editions for quotes, essays, papers and dissertations. I hope Kindle fixes this in the next generation. At the moment I'm making due with the messiness because of the convenience of carrying 300 volumes in one light device. But I'd be out shouting Kindle's praises in the streets (and to the classrooms full of college undergrads I teach) if Kindle would just pay attention to these few details. The search tool can be so helpful as to be heavenly. The dictionary tool should be expanded to include philosophical and theoretical terms also! Come on Kindle!
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80 of 89 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Preface to a Critique on Gender July 9, 2001
By tamiii
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I'm no expert but I'm reminded of what a friend once confessed to me: it's hard talking about gender without it turning into a freak show. To her credit, Judith Butler speaks sincerely, with great subtlety, about a very touchy subject. Nevertheless, when you consider that words like "sex," "heterosexual," and "homosexual" are hardly a century old, you have to ask why do they seem so certain, so meaningful, so permanent and timeless? Why is it so hard to consider these words as concealing rather than revealing? In the tradition of Marx and Foucault, Butler begins to demystify their credibility and reveals how gender is something which is 'performative'. By this, she does not mean like a role which is donned (though those who don reveal) but rather as a repetitive, cultural activity from which identity is derived. This work is thought to be the beginning of 'queer theory.'
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39 of 42 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars difficult, but important June 29, 2003
By A Customer
Though I agree with what others have written of Butler's prose, I think her approach to the ubiquitous "nature versus nurture" question of gender is an important one (politically, socially, culturally, psychologically...) At times her rhetoric is questionable & her ideas somewhat biased (to the point of bordering on... well, less than practical). However, that should not, by any means, dissuade anyone from reading her work. Despite the difficulties it might present, "Gender Trouble" is challenging, thoughtful and thought-provoking-- an enlightening experience for anyone willing to put forth some effort.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating Ideas, Infuriating Writing Style March 10, 2007
Readers who are willing to tolerate labyrinthine sentences and brain-cramping scholarly vocabulary and who already have a working understanding of Freud, Lacan, Foucault, and deconstruction will find in Butler a challenging, highly stimulating theorist of sex, gender, and sexuality.

Readers looking for a breezy and accessible discussion of gender roles in modern society should definitely look elsewhere.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Review, Difficult Prose, Updated Version Please November 30, 2009
Most of the existing reviews give a good idea of how this book has come across to Amazon readers. I decided to create a review because I had a couple of points to add. The first is a reiteration - Butler's prose is, in places, exceedingly difficult to read without a lot of former practice in reading feminism, philosophy, linguistics, and literary criticism. This is the main reason for loss of one star. She makes such wonderful deconstructive arguments showing how categories of not only gender but sex itself are constructed. Having said that, even if you only pick up about 50% of the meaning, the rephrasing and recouching of multiple ideas from different standpoints conveys the basic ideas the author wishes to convey. The second point is that one may be left wanting more. As Butler says in her updated preface (1999 - the original was 1990) - if she were writing this book today she would also include a discussion of transgender and intersexuality and surgical intervention. I believe such a discussion would bring a valuable contribution to feminism, as feminism brings so much to any consideration of transgender and intersex issues.
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40 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Required Reading December 2, 1998
This is a densely written but repeatedly rewarding study of the constructions of gender and sex as they relate to women, lesbians and gay men, and, to follow the logic of Butler's argument, all of us. This work shows not only the relativity of our cultural understanding of femininity but also the limits of our scientific understanding of female-ness. For feminists, Butler's book offers a much-needed examination of what exactly the female subject is and how woman is defined in (or by) our particular culture. Butler goes far beyond Foucault in examining sexuality as socially contructed and, in the process, offers valuable insights to (and critiques of) the writing and thinking of Beauvoir, Kristeva, Lacan, and Wittig. The book's one flaw is a turgid, sometimes redundant prose (i.e. phrases like "judical law" and "'he' [sic]") all too common in technical and philosophical writing, especially, alas, of the postmodernist variety. But once the reader survives the first quarter of the book, he [sic] will find Butler's observations not only accessible but fascinating and, for whatever it's worth, socially important.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Butler at her best.
Judith Butler is well versed in feminist theology -- the only reason she didn't get all five stars from me is her writings are somewhat complex and require me to engage much more.
Published 7 months ago by DaDu47
5.0 out of 5 stars Good basic book for gender & queer theory
Butler gets a lot of flak for being a dense writer, and has "won" some award for being the most indecipherable to read; it's a lot of hype. Read more
Published 7 months ago by ExtremeMetalFTW
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic
It's difficult to go into a review without backtracking concepts, but this breaks down many ideas that are so set in culture. And it makes sense. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Jill Bajorek
2.0 out of 5 stars Judith Butler needs to get her head out of you know where.
Judith Butler is an arrogant, condescending, and terrible person. She is dismissive and the worst professor I had at Colum
Published 15 months ago by Peter Desevo
3.0 out of 5 stars warning
DENSE DENSE DENSE!!! Prepare to read this with a pen and paper because a lot of her arguments are very circular!!! Read more
Published 15 months ago by Tarsis
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good read
This is a must read for anyone interested in learning more about homosexuality, gender and gender roles. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Stephanie Eglantina Reynoso Pimentel
3.0 out of 5 stars ok
Briefly read some but not really what i had expected, thought that there would be more perverse and twisted stuff
Published 18 months ago by Katie
5.0 out of 5 stars There is something to say-
First of all, I am sorry to have written a past review full of arrogance and prejudice, in which I criticized the content of the book: I had not even read the book. Read more
Published on July 1, 2012 by pincoblu
4.0 out of 5 stars Very very dense, but good
This is an academic text, make no buts about it, despite what she says in her intro that she feels it's accessible to everyone. Read more
Published on September 28, 2010 by GrinMax
4.0 out of 5 stars Thick, Yet Important
Butler's gender critique has been a helpful resource for me in my own work. In this book Butler challenges varying constructions of gender and how such constructions are... Read more
Published on May 15, 2008 by Benjamin A. Simpson
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