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TitleJudith Butler : live theory
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LanguageEnglish
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Total Pages193
Table of Contents
                            Cover
Contents
Preface
Acknowledgements
1 Precarious Foundations – Subjects of Desire: Hegelian Reflections in Twentieth-Century France
2 Gender, Sexuality, Performance – Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity
3 Gender, Sexuality, Performance – Bodies that Matter: On the Discursive Limits of "Sex"
4 Language, Power, Performativity — Bodies that Matter: On the Discursive Limits of "Sex"
5 Language, Power, Performativity – Excitable Speech: A Politics of the Performative
6 Identity and Politics – The Psychic Life of Power: Theories of Subjection. Undoing Gender
7 Butler on Others – Others on Butler
8 Butler Live
Notes
Bibliography
Index
	A
	B
	C
	D
	E
	F
	G
	H
	I
	K
	L
	M
	N
	O
	P
	R
	S
	T
	V
	W
	Z
                        
Document Text Contents
Page 2

Judith Butler: Live Theory

Page 96

Language, Power, Performativity - Bodies that Matter 85

The relation between culture and nature presupposed by some
models of gender "construction" implies a culture or an agency of
the social which acts upon a nature, which is itself presupposed as a
passive surface, outside the social and yet its necessary counterpart.
One question that feminists have raised, then, is whether the
discourse which figures the action of construction as a kind of
imprinting or imposition is not tacitly masculinist, whereas the
figure of the passive surface, awaiting that penetrating act whereby
meaning is endowed, is not tacitly or - perhaps - quite obviously
feminine. Is sex to gender as feminine is to masculine?

. . . This rethinking [of nature] also calls into question the model
of construction whereby the social unilaterally acts on the natural
and invests it with its parameters and its meanings. Indeed, as
much as the radical distinction between sex and gender has been
crucial to the de Beauvoirean version of feminism, it has come
under criticism in more recent years for degrading the natural as
that which is "before" intelligibility, in need of the mark, if not the
mar, of the social to signify, to be known, to acquire value. (1993a,
4-5)

If we agree with Butler that there are unfortunate and
enduring political implications in this last assumption and that
we need to dispute its logic, then it is imperative that we question
Butler's insistence, a form of reassurance, that 'to return to matter
requires that we return to matter as a sign'.3 The enclosure of the
sign's identity, if accepted, will not provide a fertile and
generative departure point for thinking the messiness of
difference. Yet, by putting the sign into question and exploring
and exploding its identity as Butler might encourage us to do in
other contexts, matter appears within the horizon of our inquiry as
a much more curious subject. And importantly, its appearance
need not be veiled in substitute form as a cultural artefact.

Page 97

Chapter 5

Language, Power, Performativity -
Excitable Speech: A Politics of the
Performative

Butler's analytical methodology is an active, evolving response to
the queries and criticisms her arguments provoke. In Gender
Trouble, she illustrates the fluid nature of identity formation
through the trope of theatrical performance, the sense that
identity is a staged artifice, a fantastic re-presentation with no
natural stability. However, Butler came to question her use of
drag to exemplify this process because it encouraged the
misconception that mimicry and play are voluntary strategies:
there was an implied sense that different subjectivities could be
chosen, or tailored, to suit changing individual fancies. In Bodies
that Matter Butler puts pay to this free-wheeling sense of
performance, emphasizing that although agency and bodily
materiality are discursive effects this doesn't make them easy to
manipulate. Given this, Butler's specific interest is in how the
social parameters of language and culture actually function to
affirm certain subjects and to diminish and devalue others. How
does a normative process of restraint and prohibition take effect
and politically discriminate between identities? How are cultural
evaluations imposed and naturalized as truths?

Butler's appreciation that language is a rather mysterious
operation is of more than theoretical interest. Indeed, as we will
see in Excitable Speech, Butler is eager to assess the analytical
relevance of her argument by investigating several examples of
hate speech which have come to prominence in US political life.
Taking this opportunity to bring more rigour to her approach,

Page 192

Index 181

differ ance 83-4
discourse 49, 68, 78, 101, 145
discursive 40, 95, 136, 161
dispositif 100, 163
Dollimore,J. 50, 137
Durkheim, E. 150-1

Engels, F. 140
erotics of bodily pain 51-7,63
ethics 130, 134, 136
Ewald, F. 124-5
exclusion 70

Fausto-Sterling, A. 145
feminism 19-20, 22, 31, 67, 85
Foucault, M. 2-3, 20-2, 28, 35,

39-46, 83, 87, 100-3, 106,
110-25, 133-6, 148-9, 154,
159, 161-3

freedom 15-16, 27, 134-5
Fraser, N. 137-41, 164
Freud, S. 30, 33-5, 50-8, 61, 63,

110-12, 121, 144-5, 150, 156

gay marriage 157
gender 20, 22, 26-7, 33-4, 44, 62,

127
activism 123
New Gender Politics 123
see also sex/gender distinction

Gramsci, A. 141

Haar, M. 27
Harrison, C. 137
hate speech 94-103
Hegel, G. W. F. 1-18, 31, 89-90,

102, 110
heteronormativity 32-3
homosexuality 33-4, 56-7, 146-7

Hood-Williams, J. 137
hypochondria 51-7
Hyppolite,J. 2, 152, 159-60

identity 6, 8-9, 11, 79
politics 22, 34, 44
of the human 18, 152-3, 160
melancholic 35, 38, 62, 146-7

illocu tionary 9 1 -2
incest taboo 29, 33-4
initial conditions 34, 116, 144
in-itself 18, 69, 101

interpellation 89-91, 95
inter-subjectivity/intra-subjectivity

5, 12, 89-90
Irigaray, L. 20-1, 26-8, 32, 34,

42-4, 49
Israel 156
iterability 77-8, 105

Kafka, F. 154
King Lear 42
King, Rodney 157
kinship 147-8
Kojeve, A. 2, 152, 159, 160
Kristeva,J. 21, 36-9, 76, 117

Lacan, J. 2, 20, 30-1, 36, 46, 52,
57-62, 71-6, 80-3, 125, 127,
141-2, 161, 259

Laclau, E. 1, 79-80, 141-2
Laplanche,J. 145, 154, 161
language 7, 24, 37, 43, 65-8, 87,

99-107
difficult 138-9
generalization of 97
injurious 87, 93
law 41, 47, 76-7, 120-1
production of female as other

24-7
and the structure of the sign

74-8, 105
see also power

lesbian 27, 38
and feminism 19-20
see also lesbian phallus

Levi-Strauss, C. 20, 29-30, 58, 127,
148

Levinas, E. 154
linguistics 5, 30, 84, 106

Macherey, P. 125-6, 149
Mackinnon, C. 98-9, 102-3, *162
Marx, K. 3, 140-1, 143
masquerade 31-2
materiality 43, 49, 65-6, 69-70
materialization 48, 69, 117
Matsuda, M. 98, 103-4
Merleau-Ponty, M. 2, 159
Mills, C. 103, 137
mirror stage 57, 59
Moses 156
Mouffe, C. 79-80
McNay, L. 137

Page 193

182 Index

nature 13, 16-17, 144-5
nature/culture 23-4, 29, 39-40, 49,

68-9, 75-6, 83-5, 144-5
negative/negation 10-12, 81
Nietzsche, F. 2, 111, 118-19
norms 112, 122-7, 135, 149
Nussbaum, M. 131-2

oedipal complex 34, 146
Otherness 25

of the self 14-15
of Woman 24, 31
within the masculine 26

origin 8, 17, 83-4
see also initial conditions

Pascal, B. 90
performativity 36, 42, 44-5, 86-7,

119, 138
Derridean 105

phallogocentric 24-5
phallus 31-6, 53-5

lesbian 54, 58-61
politics

emancipatory 41, 44
feminist 20
of identity 22,34
and language 130-5, 139, 141,

157
pluralist 60
and the psyche 111-17
subversive 36, 38

political signifiers 72-3, 78
pornography 98-9, 104
power 28, 35, 39-42, 78, 100-3, 106,

163
as repression/prohibition 46-7,

113-14, 121-2
and agency 89-90, 108-20
and the law 76-7
normative 124-7, 149

prohibition 35, 62
the bar of 75-6
and incest 29-30
see also power

post-structural 24
psychoanalysis 20, 70, 110, 148, 152

the Real 71-2,75
recognition 4-6, 15, 88-9
representation 68, 98-9, 105

resignification 73, 138
resistance 41, 76, 109, 177
Riviere, J. 20, 32
Rubin, G. 148

Said, E. 156-7
Sartre, J.-P. 2, 159
Saussure, F. de 29-30, 74, 126,

161
Schneider, D. 147
self-consciousness 5-6, 10, 13-17
the Semiotic 37-9
Seneca 151
sex

bisexuality 55, 61
Foucault on 39
homosexuality 56-7
and kinship 148
and melancholia 146-8
sex/gender distinction 21-3,

26-7, 32-3, 42, 85
sexual identity 33-5, 50, 146-8
see also erotics of bodily pain

social relations 80
Socratic 158
speech act theory 91
Spinoza, B. 126, 149-52, 160
substance 82-3

metaphysics of 27
suicide 150-2
supplementarity 80-1
Symbolic 36-8, 58, 71, 76, 127

textuality 78, 84
transcendental 142, 146

signifier 58

violence
naming as 77, 91
of the state 156

voluntarism 121, 135

Williams, R. 133-4
Wilson, E. 145, 162
Wittig, M. 20-2, 26-8, 32, 34,

42-4, 49
woman 21-6, 53-4

in Lacan 71-2

Zionism 157
Zizek, S. 1, 70-5, 78-80, 141-2

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