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Queer Theory, Gender Theory: An Instant Primer Paperback – August 1, 2004


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About the Author

Riki Wilchins is the founding Executive Director of the Gender Public Advocacy Coalition (GenderPAC), the national gender rights organization. The author of "Read My Lips," "GenderQueer," and "Queer Theory/Gender Theory," Riki was selected by TIME Magazin
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Alyson Books (August 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1555837980
  • ISBN-13: 978-1555837983
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 8.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #240,077 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Riki Wilchins is a powerful writer and activist.
DaDu47
If you want to know (or teach others) what these things are and why they matter, this is a great choice.
Jason Crockett
I assign this book in a class called Sexual Identity.
Elroi Waszkiewicz

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Elroi Waszkiewicz on September 14, 2005
Format: Paperback
I assign this book in a class called Sexual Identity. It offers an introduction to queer/gender/postmodern theory, situated within contexts of social and political movements. It is extremely accessible, and guides readers through difficult concepts that are often complicated and dense in their original works (e.g., Foucault, Derrida, Butler). For people who want to sample some of the central theoretical concepts related to gender and sexuality, this book is a great resource. The students reading this book often comment on the accessible reading and Wilchins' connections to personal stories and experiences. Such comments starkly differ from when I previously assigned the more abstract and antiquated Queer Theory (Jagose).
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26 of 30 people found the following review helpful By JVS on March 15, 2007
Format: Paperback
In her third book, Queer Theory, Gender Theory: An Instant Primer, Riki Wilchins ventures from writing an autobiography (_Read My Lips_) and editing an anthology (_GenderQueer_) to writing theory explicitly. In particular, she seeks to take theory out of its current limited circulation among "academics and graduate students" (1) and reinvigorate its political center and make it accessible to activists.

Wilchins begins by giving brief histories of civil rights movements (chapters 1-3), follows with discussions of postmodern theory centered around Jacques Derrida and Michel Foucault (chapters 4-6) complete with contemporary examples of uses of postmodern theory (chapters 7 & 8), and then proceeds to discuss postmodern theory's weaknesses (chapter 9-11), notably its lack of "any vision of constructive social engagement and political action" (100), and its tendency not to account for the varying perspectives people might encounter due to dimensions of difference, specifically race (chapter 10). Similarly focused on limitations and weaknesses, in chapter 11, Wilchins uses Judith Bulter's work to assert that identity-based politics, while in some ways facilitate political organizing and movement, inevitably and undesirably create margins and practice exclusion. The final chapter chronicling GenderPAC's founding and continue development and growth are offered by Wilchins as an example of theory being put into action.

Wilchins' purpose is to bridge queer theory and human rights activism in order to instill in academics the necessity of putting theory into action, and perhaps more importantly, to offer those unfamiliar with queer theory access to the possibilities such theorizing has opened up and makes available (as evidenced by the book's subtitle "An Instant Primer").
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Scott Elliott on April 1, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Riki Wilchins has crafted a marvelous primer on the major gender issues facing Americans today, and it's worth reading the book for that purpose alone; but Wilchins manages to provide more than a primer, she gives new life to the long dormant idea that King, Gandhi and Jesus died for, the idea that across the board social constructs must be abandoned, and the fight must be for equal rights for all. Period. No sub-divisions, no special rights, just rights that each and every person is entitled to simply because they are a person.

I doubt Wilchins intended her book to be a theological treatise, but to my way of thinking, her ideas mirror those of Jesus who not only deconstructed social constructs, but taught that each and every person is entitled not only to radical love, but life in a community of radical egalitarianism.

"Queer Theory, Gender Theory" is a great read, a wonderful book, and a breath of fresh air in this age of homophobic rhetoric. In short, buy and read this great book!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Warren J. Blumenfeld on June 25, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I found Quuer Theory, Gender Theory: An Instant Primer by Riki Wilchins to be both academically rigorous while being accessible for the reader who would like an inductory text on Queer and Gender Studies. I use this book in my Introduction to Queer Studies course, and students find that the author has a particular skill for introducing rather difficult concepts in a style that is fresh and engaging, without talking down to them. A must read for anyone wishing to gain a clearer understanding of queer and gender theory.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Seth Goldman on August 5, 2005
Format: Paperback
This book does exactly what it sets out to do: whereas my initial attempts at reading and understanding Foucault and Butler left me interested but confused, now, after reading this book -- in a mere four days -- I actually get postmodernism, a.k.a. the theory behind gender rights. I've retained more from this book in less than a week than from an entire semester of a college philosophy of race and gender class. In other words, thanks Riki!
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20 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Genderwarrior on November 1, 2004
Format: Paperback
This is a good book for activists, and trans theory beginners who are looking for a light amount of academic relativity to trans-activism. The book had great potential to serve as both an academic and activist tool, but falls severely short on the academic side. It lacks any serious academic quality through it omissions of references and footnotes for all of the textual and historical information cited. Further, a vast majority of ideas and theories in the book are really just Riki's own musings and do not make use of any of the pre-existing valuable critques of the authors and works she analyzes, which is a disappointing ommission.

Those who are irritated by Riki's constant promotion of GenderPAC through all of her work, will find the same situation in this book. All of this is not to say that there is not good ideas or content in the book, as there certainly are, but the ideas don't seem to be all that different from Riki's previous works, or speeches.
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