Butler in March 2012
Judith Pamela Butler
February 24, 1956
Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.
|Alma mater||Yale University, Heidelberg University|
|Institutions||University of California, Berkeley|
|Doctoral advisor||Maurice Natanson|
Judith Pamela Butler (born February 24, 1956) is an American philosopher and gender theorist whose work has influenced political philosophy, ethics, and the fields of third-wave feminist, queer, and literary theory. In 1993, she began teaching at the University of California, Berkeley, where she has served, beginning in 1998, as the Maxine Elliot Professor in the Department of Comparative Literature and the Program of Critical Theory. She is also the Hannah Arendt Chair at the European Graduate School.
Butler is best known for her books Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (1990) and Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of Sex (1993), in which she challenges conventional notions of gender and develops her theory of gender performativity. This theory has had a major influence on feminist and queer scholarship. Her works are often studied in film studies courses emphasizing gender studies and performativity in discourse.
Butler has supported lesbian and gay rights movements and has spoken out on many contemporary political issues. In particular, she is a vocal critic of Zionism, Israeli politics, and its effect on the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, emphasizing that Israel does not and should not be taken to represent all Jews or Jewish opinion.
- 1 Early life and education
- 2 Overview of major works
- 3 Reception
- 4 Political activism
- 5 Personal life
- 6 Selected honors and awards
- 7 Publications
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 Further reading
- 11 External links
Early life and education
Judith Butler was born on February 24, 1956, in Cleveland, Ohio, to a family of Hungarian-Jewish and Russian-Jewish descent. Most of her maternal grandmother's family perished in the Holocaust. Her parents were practicing Reform Jews. Her mother was raised Orthodox, eventually becoming Conservative and then Reform, while her father was raised Reform. As a child and teenager, she attended both Hebrew school and special classes on Jewish ethics, where she received her "first training in philosophy". Butler stated in a 2010 interview with Haaretz that she began the ethics classes at the age of 14 and that they were created as a form of punishment by her Hebrew school's Rabbi because she was "too talkative in class". Butler also stated that she was "thrilled" by the idea of these tutorials, and when asked what she wanted to study in these special sessions, she responded with three questions preoccupying her at the time: "Why was Spinoza excommunicated from the synagogue? Could German Idealism be held accountable for Nazism? And how was one to understand existential theology, including the work of Martin Buber?"
Butler attended Bennington College before transferring to Yale University, where she studied philosophy, receiving her Bachelor of Arts degree in 1978 and her Doctor of Philosophy degree in 1984. She spent one academic year at Heidelberg University as a Fulbright Scholar. She taught at Wesleyan University, George Washington University, and Johns Hopkins University before joining University of California, Berkeley, in 1993. In 2002 she held the Spinoza Chair of Philosophy at the University of Amsterdam. In addition, she joined the department of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University as Wun Tsun Tam Mellon Visiting Professor of the Humanities in the spring semesters of 2012, 2013 and 2014 with the option of remaining as full-time faculty.
Butler serves on the editorial board or advisory board of several academic journals, including JAC: A Journal of Rhetoric, Culture, and Politics and Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society.
Overview of major works
Performative Acts and Gender Constitution (1988)
In the essay "Performative Acts and Gender Constitution", Judith Butler proposes that gender is performative. She draws on the phenomenology of Maurice Merleau-Ponty and the feminism of Simone de Beauvoir, noting that both thinkers ground their theories in "lived experience" and view the sexual body as a historical idea or situation. Butler distinguishes "between sex, as biological facticity, and gender, as the cultural interpretation or signification of that facticity."
Butler argues that gender is best perceived as performative, which suggests that it has a social audience. It also suggests that performances of woman are compelled and enforced by historical social practice. During historical conventions and people's repetitive practice of citation, materialization, iteration, and sedimentation to become norms, and who do not follow the norms would be punished. By using a language as a means of expression, only the members of the group have a true scheme of expression and control it freely in their minds as usual.
For Butler, the "script" of gender performance is effortlessly transmitted generation to generation in the form of socially established "meanings": She states, "gender is not a radical choice ... [nor is it] imposed or inscribed upon the individual". Given the social nature of human beings, most actions are witnessed, reproduced, and internalized and thus take on a performative or theatric quality. According to Butler's theory, gender is essentially a performative repetition of acts associated with male or female. Currently, the actions appropriate for men and women have been transmitted to produce a social atmosphere that both maintains and legitimizes a seemingly natural gender binary. Consistently with her acceptance of the body as a historical idea, she suggests that our concept of gender is seen as natural or innate because the body "becomes its gender through a series of acts which are renewed, revised, and consolidated through time".
Butler argues that the performance of gender itself creates gender. Additionally, she compares the performativity of gender to the performance of the theater. She brings many similarities, including the idea of each individual functioning as an actor of their gender. However, she also brings to light a critical difference between gender performance in reality and theater performances. She explains how the theater is much less threatening and does not produce the same fear that gender performances often encounter because of the fact that there is a clear distinction from reality within the theater.
Butler uses Sigmund Freud's notion of how a person's identity is modeled in terms of the normal. She revises Freud's notion of this concept's applicability to lesbianism, where Freud says that lesbians are modeling their behavior on men, the perceived normal or ideal. She instead says that all gender works in this way of performativity and a representation of an internalized notion of gender norms.
Gender Trouble (1990)
Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity was first published in 1990, selling over 100,000 copies internationally, in multiple languages. The book's title alludes to the 1974 John Waters film Female Trouble, which stars the drag queen Divine. Gender Trouble discusses the works of Sigmund Freud, de Beauvoir, Julia Kristeva, Jacques Lacan, Luce Irigaray, Monique Wittig, Jacques Derrida, and Michel Foucault. The book has even inspired an intellectual fanzine, Judy!
The crux of Butler's argument in Gender Trouble is that the coherence of the categories of sex, gender, and sexuality—the natural-seeming coherence, for example, of masculine gender and heterosexual desire in male bodies—is culturally constructed through the repetition of stylized acts in time. Although the repeated, stylized bodily acts establish the appearance of an essential, ontological "core" gender, Butler understands gender, along with sex and sexuality, to be performative. Butler explicitly challenges biological accounts of binary sex. The performance of gender is not voluntary, in Butler's opinion, and she believes the gendered, sexed, desiring subject must be constructed within what she calls, borrowing from Foucault's Discipline and Punish, "regulative discourses." These, also called "frameworks of intelligibility" or "disciplinary regimes," determine in advance what possibilities of sex, gender, and sexuality are socially permitted to appear as coherent or "natural". Regulative discourse includes disciplinary techniques that coerce the stylized actions and thereby maintain the appearance of "core" gender, sex and sexuality.
The supposed obviousness of sex as a natural fact attests to how deeply its production in discourse is concealed. The sexed body, once established as a natural fact, is the alibi for constructions of gender and sexuality, which then purport to be the just-as-natural expressions or consequences of sex. In Butler's account, it is on the basis of the construction of natural binary sex that binary gender and heterosexuality are likewise constructed as natural. Butler claims that without a critique of sex as produced by discourse, the sex/gender distinction as a feminist strategy for contesting constructions of binary asymmetric gender and compulsory heterosexuality will be ineffective.
Butler offers a critique of the terms gender and sex as they have been used by feminists. Butler argues that feminism made a mistake in trying to make "women" a discrete, ahistorical group with common characteristics. Butler writes that this approach reinforces the binary view of gender relations. Butler believes that feminists should not try to define "women" and she also believes that feminists should "focus on providing an account of how power functions and shapes our understandings of womanhood not only in the society at large but also within the feminist movement." Finally, Butler aims to break the supposed links between sex and gender so that gender and desire can be "flexible, free floating and not caused by other stable factors". The idea of identity as free and flexible and gender as a performance, not an essence, is one of the foundations of queer theory.
Imitation and Gender Insubordination (1990)
Judith Butler explores the production of identities such as homosexual and heterosexual and the limiting nature of identity categories. An identity category for her is a result of certain exclusions and concealments, and thus a site of regulation. Butler acknowledges, however, that categorized identities are important for political action at the present time. Butler believes that identity forms through repetition or imitation and is not original. Imitation fosters the illusion of continuity. Heterosexual identity, which is set up as an ideal, requires constant, compulsive repetition if it is to be safeguarded.
Bodies That Matter (1993)
Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of "Sex" seeks to clear up readings and supposed misreadings of performativity that view the enactment of sex/gender as a daily choice. Butler emphasizes the role of repetition in performativity, making use of Derrida's theory of iterability, which is a form of citationality:
Performativity cannot be understood outside of a process of iterability, a regularized and constrained repetition of norms. And this repetition is not performed by a subject; this repetition is what enables a subject and constitutes the temporal condition for the subject. This iterability implies that 'performance' is not a singular 'act' or event, but a ritualized production, a ritual reiterated under and through constraint, under and through the force of prohibition and taboo, with the threat of ostracism and even death controlling and compelling the shape of the production, but not, I will insist, determining it fully in advance.
This concept is linked to Butler's discussion of performativity. Iterability, in its endless undeterminedness as to-be-determinedness, is thus precisely that aspect of performativity that makes the production of the "natural" sexed, gendered, heterosexual subject possible, while also and at the same time opening that subject up to the possibility of its incoherence and contestation.[jargon]
Excitable Speech (1997)
In Excitable Speech: A Politics of the Performative, Butler surveys the problems of hate speech and censorship. She argues that censorship is difficult to evaluate, and that in some cases it may be useful or even necessary, while in others it may be worse than tolerance.
Butler argues that hate speech exists retrospectively, only after being declared such by state authorities. In this way, the state reserves for itself the power to define hate speech and, conversely, the limits of acceptable discourse. In this connection, Butler criticizes feminist legal scholar Catharine MacKinnon's argument against pornography for its unquestioning acceptance of the state's power to censor.
Deploying Foucault's argument from the first volume of The History of Sexuality, Butler claims that any attempt at censorship, legal or otherwise, necessarily propagates the very language it seeks to forbid. As Foucault argues, for example, the strict sexual mores of 19th-century Western Europe did nothing but amplify the discourse of sexuality they sought to control. Extending this argument using Derrida and Lacan, Butler claims that censorship is primitive to language, and that the linguistic "I" is a mere effect of an originary censorship. In this way, Butler questions the possibility of any genuinely oppositional discourse; "If speech depends upon censorship, then the principle that one might seek to oppose is at once the formative principle of oppositional speech".
Undoing Gender (2004)
Undoing Gender collects Butler's reflections on gender, sex, sexuality, psychoanalysis and the medical treatment of intersex people for a more general readership than many of her other books. Butler revisits and refines her notion of performativity and focuses on the question of undoing "restrictively normative conceptions of sexual and gendered life".
Butler discusses how gender is performed without one being conscious of it, but says that it does not mean this performativity is "automatic or mechanical". She argues that we have desires that do not originate from our personhood, but rather, from social norms. The writer also debates our notions of "human" and "less-than-human" and how these culturally imposed ideas can keep one from having a "viable life" as the biggest concerns are usually about whether a person will be accepted if his or her desires differ from normality. She states that one may feel the need of being recognized in order to live, but that at the same time, the conditions to be recognized make life "unlivable". The writer proposes an interrogation of such conditions so that people who resist them may have more possibilities of living.
In her discussion of intersex issues and people, Butler addresses the case of David Reimer, a person whose sex was medically "reassigned" from male to female after a botched circumcision at eight months of age. Reimer was "made" female by doctors, but later in life identified as "really" male, married and became a stepfather to his wife's three children, and went on to tell his story in As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised as a Girl, which he wrote with John Colapinto. Reimer committed suicide in 2004.
Giving an Account of Oneself (2005)
In Giving an Account of Oneself, Butler develops an ethics based on the opacity of the subject to itself; in other words, the limits of self-knowledge. Primarily borrowing from Theodor Adorno, Michel Foucault, Friedrich Nietzsche, Jean Laplanche, Adriana Cavarero and Emmanuel Levinas, Butler develops a theory of the formation of the subject. She theorizes the subject in relation to the social – a community of others and their norms – which is beyond the control of the subject it forms, as precisely the very condition of that subject's formation, the resources by which the subject becomes recognizably human, a grammatical "I", in the first place.
Butler accepts the claim that if the subject is opaque to itself the limitations of its free ethical responsibility and obligations are due to the limits of narrative, presuppositions of language and projection.
You may think that I am in fact telling a story about the prehistory of the subject, one that I have been arguing cannot be told. There are two responses to this objection. (1) That there is no final or adequate narrative reconstruction of the prehistory of the speaking "I" does not mean we cannot narrate it; it only means that at the moment when we narrate we become speculative philosophers or fiction writers. (2) This prehistory has never stopped happening and, as such, is not a prehistory in any chronological sense. It is not done with, over, relegated to a past, which then becomes part of a causal or narrative reconstruction of the self. On the contrary, that prehistory interrupts the story I have to give of myself, makes every account of myself partial and failed, and constitutes, in a way, my failure to be fully accountable for my actions, my final "irresponsibility," one for which I may be forgiven only because I could not do otherwise. This not being able to do otherwise is our common predicament (page 78).
Instead she argues for an ethics based precisely on the limits of self-knowledge as the limits of responsibility itself. Any concept of responsibility which demands the full transparency of the self to itself, an entirely accountable self, necessarily does violence to the opacity which marks the constitution of the self it addresses. The scene of address by which responsibility is enabled is always already a relation between subjects who are variably opaque to themselves and to each other. The ethics that Butler envisions is therefore one in which the responsible self knows the limits of its knowing, recognizes the limits of its capacity to give an account of itself to others, and respects those limits as symptomatically human. To take seriously one's opacity to oneself in ethical deliberation means then to critically interrogate the social world in which one comes to be human in the first place and which remains precisely that which one cannot know about oneself. In this way, Butler locates social and political critique at the core of ethical practice.
Butler's work has been influential in feminist and queer theory, cultural studies, and continental philosophy. Yet her contribution to a range of other disciplines—such as psychoanalysis, literary, film, and performance studies as well as visual arts—has also been significant. Her theory of gender performativity as well as her conception of "critically queer" have not only transformed understandings of gender and queer identity in the academic world, but have shaped and mobilized various kinds of political activism, particularly queer activism, across the globe. Butler's work has also entered into contemporary debates on the teaching of gender, gay parenting, and the depathologization of transgender people. Before election to the papacy, Pope Benedict XVI wrote several pages challenging Butler's arguments on gender. In several countries, Butler became the symbol of the destruction of traditional gender roles for reactionary movements. This was particularly the case in France during the anti-gay marriage protests. Bruno Perreau has shown that Butler was literally depicted as an "antichrist", both because of her gender and her Jewish identity, the fear of minority politics and critical studies being expressed through fantasies of a corrupted body.
Some academics and political activists maintain that Butler's radical departure from the sex/gender dichotomy and her non-essentialist conception of gender—along with her insistence that power helps form the subject—revolutionized feminist and queer praxis, thought, and studies. Darin Barney of McGill University writes that:
Butler's work on gender, sex, sexuality, queerness, feminism, bodies, political speech and ethics has changed the way scholars all over the world think, talk and write about identity, subjectivity, power and politics. It has also changed the lives of countless people whose bodies, genders, sexualities and desires have made them subject to violence, exclusion and oppression.
Other scholars have been more critical. In 1998, Denis Dutton's journal Philosophy and Literature awarded Butler first prize in its fourth annual "Bad Writing Competition", which set out to "celebrate bad writing from the most stylistically lamentable passages found in scholarly books and articles." Her unwitting entry, which ran in a 1997 issue of the scholarly journal Diacritics, ran thus:
The move from a structuralist account in which capital is understood to structure social relations in relatively homologous ways to a view of hegemony in which power relations are subject to repetition, convergence, and rearticulation brought the question of temporality into the thinking of structure, and marked a shift from a form of Althusserian theory that takes structural totalities as theoretical objects to one in which the insights into the contingent possibility of structure inaugurate a renewed conception of hegemony as bound up with the contingent sites and strategies of the rearticulation of power.
Some critics have accused Butler of elitism due to her difficult prose style, while others claim that she reduces gender to "discourse" or promotes a form of gender voluntarism. Susan Bordo, for example, has argued that Butler reduces gender to language and has contended that the body is a major part of gender, in opposition to Butler's conception of gender as performance. A particularly vocal critic has been feminist Martha Nussbaum, who has argued that Butler misreads J. L. Austin's idea of performative utterance, makes erroneous legal claims, forecloses an essential site of resistance by repudiating pre-cultural agency, and provides no normative ethical theory to direct the subversive performances that Butler endorses. Finally, Nancy Fraser's critique of Butler was part of a famous exchange between the two theorists. Fraser has suggested that Butler's focus on performativity distances her from "everyday ways of talking and thinking about ourselves. ... Why should we use such a self-distancing idiom?"
Butler responded to criticisms of her prose in the preface to her 1999 book, Gender Trouble.
More recently, several critics—most prominently, Viviane Namaste—have criticised Judith Butler's Undoing Gender for under-emphasizing the intersectional aspects of gender-based violence. For example, Timothy Laurie notes that Butler's use of phrases like "gender politics" and "gender violence" in relation to assaults on transgender individuals in the United States can "[scour] a landscape filled with class and labour relations, racialised urban stratification, and complex interactions between sexual identity, sexual practices and sex work", and produce instead "a clean surface on which struggles over 'the human' are imagined to play out". Nevertheless, both Namaste and Laurie acknowledge the enduring importance of Butler's critical contributions to the study of gender identities.
German feminist Alice Schwarzer speaks of Butler's "radical intellectual games" that would not change how society classifies and treats a woman; thus, by eliminating female and male identity Butler would have abolished the discourse about sexism in the queer community. Schwarzer also accuses Butler of remaining silent about the oppression of women and homosexuals in the Islamic world, while readily exercising her right to same-sex-marriage in the United States; instead, Butler would sweepingly defend Islam, including Islamism, from critics.
Much of Butler's early political activism centered around queer and feminist issues, and she served, for a period of time, as the chair of the board of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission. Over the years, she has been particularly active in the gay and lesbian rights, feminist, and anti-war movements. She has also written and spoken out on issues ranging from affirmative action and gay marriage to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the prisoners detained at Guantanamo Bay. More recently, she has been active in the Occupy movement and has publicly expressed support for a version of the 2005 BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) campaign against Israel.
On September 7, 2006, Butler participated in a faculty-organized teach-in against the 2006 Lebanon War at the University of California, Berkeley. Another widely publicized moment occurred in June 2010, when Butler refused the Civil Courage Award (Zivilcouragepreis) of the Christopher Street Day (CSD) Parade in Berlin, Germany at the award ceremony. She cited racist comments on the part of organizers and a general failure of CSD organizations to distance themselves from racism in general and from anti-Muslim excuses for war more specifically. Criticizing the event's commercialism, she went on to name several groups that she commended as stronger opponents of "homophobia, transphobia, sexism, racism, and militarism".
In October 2011, Butler attended Occupy Wall Street and, in reference to calls for clarification of the protesters' demands, she said:
People have asked, so what are the demands? What are the demands all of these people are making? Either they say there are no demands and that leaves your critics confused, or they say that the demands for social equality and economic justice are impossible demands. And the impossible demands, they say, are just not practical. If hope is an impossible demand, then we demand the impossible – that the right to shelter, food and employment are impossible demands, then we demand the impossible. If it is impossible to demand that those who profit from the recession redistribute their wealth and cease their greed, then yes, we demand the impossible.
Adorno Prize affair
When Butler received the 2012 Adorno Prize, the prize committee came under attack from Israel's Ambassador to Germany Yakov Hadas-Handelsman; the director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center office in Jerusalem, Efraim Zuroff; and the German Central Council of Jews. They were upset at Butler's selection because of her remarks about Israel and specifically her "calls for a boycott against Israel". Butler responded saying that "she did not take attacks from German Jewish leaders personally". Rather, she wrote, the attacks are "directed against everyone who is critical against Israel and its current policies".
In a letter to the Mondoweiss website, Butler asserted that she developed strong ethical views on the basis of Jewish philosophical thought and that it is "blatantly untrue, absurd, and painful for anyone to argue that those who formulate a criticism of the State of Israel is anti-Semitic or, if Jewish, self-hating".
Comments on Hamas and Hezbollah
Butler was criticized for statements she had made about Hamas and Hezbollah. She was accused of describing them as "social movements that are progressive, that are on the Left, that are part of a global Left". She was accused of defending "Hezbollah and Hamas as progressive organizations" and supporting their tactics.
Butler responded to these criticisms by stating that her remarks on Hamas and Hezbollah were taken completely out of context and, in so doing, her established views on non-violence were contradicted and misrepresented.
Butler describes the origin of her remarks on Hamas and Hezbollah in the following way:
I was asked by a member of an academic audience a few years ago whether I thought Hamas and Hezbollah belonged to "the global left" and I replied with two points. My first point was merely descriptive: those political organizations define themselves as anti-imperialist, and anti-imperialism is one characteristic of the global left, so on that basis one could describe them as part of the global left. My second point was then critical: as with any group on the left, one has to decide whether one is for that group or against that group, and one needs to critically evaluate their stand.
Comments on Black Lives Matter
What is implied by this statement [Black Lives Matter], a statement that should be obviously true, but apparently is not? If black lives do not matter, then they are not really regarded as lives, since a life is supposed to matter. So what we see is that some lives matter more than others, that some lives matter so much that they need to be protected at all costs, and that other lives matter less, or not at all. And when that becomes the situation, then the lives that do not matter so much, or do not matter at all, can be killed or lost, can be exposed to conditions of destitution, and there is no concern, or even worse, that is regarded as the way it is supposed to be...When people engage in concerted actions across racial lines to build communities based on equality, to defend the rights of those who are disproportionately imperiled to have a chance to live without the fear of dying quite suddenly at the hands of the police. There are many ways to do this, in the street, the office, the home, and in the media. Only through such an ever-growing cross-racial struggle against racism can we begin to achieve a sense of all the lives that really do matter.
The dialogue draws heavily on her 2004 book Precarious Life: The Powers of Mourning and Violence.
Avital Ronell sexual harassment case
On May 11, 2018, Butler led a group of scholars in writing a letter to New York University following the sexual harassment suit filed by a former NYU graduate student against his advisor Avital Ronell. The signatories acknowledged not having had access to the confidential findings of the investigation that followed the Title IX complaint against Ronell. Nonetheless, they accused the complainant of waging a "malicious campaign" against Ronell. The signatories also wrote that the presumed "malicious intention has animated and sustained this legal nightmare" for a highly regarded scholar. "If she were to be terminated or relieved of her duties, the injustice would be widely recognized and opposed." Butler, the chief signatory, invoked her title as President Elect of the Modern Language Association. James J. Marino, a professor at Cleveland State University and a member of the MLA, started a petition to demand Butler's resignation or removal from her post. He argued that "Protesting against one instance of punishment is only a means to the larger end of preserving senior faculty's privilege of impunity. ... [Butler] was standing up for an old, corrupt, and long-standing way of doing business. The time for doing business that way is over. We should never look back." Some three months later, Butler apologized to the MLA for the letter. "I acknowledged that I should not have allowed the MLA affiliation to go forward with my name," she wrote to the Chronicle of Higher Education. "I expressed regret to the MLA officers and staff, and my colleagues accepted my apology. I extend that same apology to MLA members."
Selected honors and awards
- 2015: Elected as a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy
- 2014: Named one of PinkNews's top 11 Jewish gay and lesbian icons
- 2018: Doctorate of Letters, honoris causa, University of Belgrade
- 2014: Doctorate of Letters, honoris causa, University of Fribourg
- 2013: Doctorate of Letters, honoris causa, University of St. Andrews
- 2013: Doctorate of Letters, honoris causa, McGill University
- 2012: Theodor W. Adorno Award
- 2010: "25 Visionaries Who Are Changing Your World", Utne Reader
- 2008: Mellon Award for her exemplary contributions to scholarship in the humanities.
- 1999: Guggenheim Fellowship
All of Butler's books have been translated into numerous languages; Gender Trouble, alone, has been translated into twenty-seven languages. In addition, she has co-authored and edited over a dozen volumes—the most recent of which is Dispossession: The Performative in the Political (2013), coauthored with Athena Athanasiou. Over the years she has also published many influential essays, interviews, and public presentations. Butler is considered by many as "one of the most influential voices in contemporary political theory," and as the most widely read and influential gender theorist in the world.
The following is a partial list of Butler's publications.
- Butler, Judith (1999) . Subjects of desire: Hegelian reflections in twentieth-century France. New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 9780231159982. [Her doctoral dissertation.]
- Butler, Judith (2006) . Gender trouble: feminism and the subversion of identity. New York: Routledge. ISBN 9780415389556.
- Butler, Judith (1993). Bodies that matter: on the discursive limits of "sex". New York: Routledge. ISBN 9780415903653.
- Butler, Judith; Benhabib, Seyla; Fraser, Nancy; Cornell, Drucilla (1995). Feminist contentions: a philosophical exchange. New York: Routledge. ISBN 9780415910866.
- Butler, Judith (1997). Excitable speech: a politics of the performative. New York: Routledge. ISBN 9780415915878.
- Butler, Judith (1997). The psychic life of power: theories in subjection. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press. ISBN 9780804728126.
- Butler, Judith (2000). Antigone's claim kinship between life and death. New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 9780231518048.
- Butler, Judith; Laclau, Ernesto; Žižek, Slavoj (2000). Contingency, hegemony, universality: contemporary dialogues on the left. London: Verso. ISBN 9781859842782.
- Butler, Judith; Beck-Gernsheim, Elisabeth; Puigvert, Lídia (2003). Women & social transformation. New York: P. Lang. ISBN 9780820467085.
- Butler, Judith (2004). Precarious life: the powers of mourning and violence. London New York: Verso. ISBN 9781844675449.
- Butler, Judith (2004). Undoing gender. New York/London: Routledge. ISBN 9780203499627.
- Butler, Judith (2005). Giving an account of oneself. New York: Fordham University Press. ISBN 9780823246779.
- Butler, Judith; Spivak, Gayatri (2007). Who sings the nation-state?: language, politics, belonging. London New York: Seagull Books. ISBN 9781905422579.
- Butler, Judith; Asad, Talal; Brown, Wendy; Mahmood, Saba (2009). Is critique secular?: blasphemy, injury, and free speech. Berkeley, California: Townsend Center for the Humanities, University of California Distributed by University of California Press. ISBN 9780982329412.
- Butler, Judith (2009). Frames of war: when is life grievable?. London New York: Verso. ISBN 9781844673339.
- Butler, Judith; Habermas, Jürgen; Taylor, Charles; West, Cornel (2011). The power of religion in the public sphere. New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 9781283008921.
- Butler, Judith; Weed, Elizabeth (2011). The question of gender Joan W. Scott's critical feminism. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. ISBN 9780253001535.
- Butler, Judith (2012). Parting ways: Jewishness and the critique of Zionism. New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 9780231517959.
- Butler, Judith; Athanasiou, Athena (2013). Dispossession: the performative in the political. Cambridge, UK Malden, Massachusetts: Polity Press. ISBN 9780745653815.
- Butler, Judith (2015). Senses of the subject. New York: Fordham University Press. ISBN 9780823264674.
- Butler, Judith (2015). Notes toward a performative theory of assembly. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. ISBN 9780674967755.
- Butler, Judith (1982), "Lesbian S & M: the politics of dis-illusion", in Linden, Robin Ruth (ed.), Against sadomasochism: a radical feminist analysis, East Palo Alto, California: Frog in the Well, ISBN 9780960362837.
- Butler, Judith (1990), "The pleasures of repetition", in Glick, Robert A.; Bone, Stanley (eds.), Pleasure beyond the pleasure principle: the role of affect in motivation, development, and adaptation, New Haven: Yale University Press, ISBN 9780300047936.
- Butler, Judith (1991), "Imitation and gender insubordination", in Fuss, Diana (ed.), Inside/out: lesbian theories, gay theories, New York: Routledge, ISBN 9780415902373.
- Butler, Judith (1993), "Kierkegaard's speculative despair", in Solomon, Robert C.; Higgins, Kathleen M. (eds.), The age of German idealism, Routledge History of Philosophy, Volume VI, London New York: Routledge, pp. 363–395, ISBN 9780415308786.
- Butler, Judith (1997), "Imitation and gender insubordination", in Nicholson, Linda (ed.), The second wave: a reader in feminist theory, New York: Routledge, pp. 300–316, ISBN 9780415917612.
- Butler, Judith (1997), "Gender is burning: questions of appropriation and subversion", in McClintock, Anne; Mufti, Aamir; Shohat, Ella (eds.), Dangerous liaisons: gender, nation, and postcolonial perspectives, Minnesota, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, pp. 381–395, ISBN 9780816626496.
- Butler, Judith (2001), "Sexual difference as a question of ethics", in Doyle, Laura (ed.), Bodies of resistance: new phenomenologies of politics, agency, and culture, Evanston, Illinois: Northwestern University Press, ISBN 9780810118478.
- Butler, Judith (2001), "Appearances aside", in Post, Robert (ed.), Prejudicial appearances: the logic of American antidiscrimination law, Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press, pp. 73–84, ISBN 9780822327134.
- Butler, Judith (2005), "Subjects of sex/gender/desire", in Cudd, Ann; Andreasen, Robin O. (eds.), Feminist theory: a philosophical anthology, Oxford, UK Malden, Massachusetts: Blackwell Publishing, pp. 145–153, ISBN 9781405116619.
- Butler, Judith (2009), "Ronell as gay scientist", in Davis, Diane (ed.), Reading Ronell, Urbana: University of Illinois Press, ISBN 9780252076473. A collection of essays on the work of Avital Ronell.
- Blanchet, Nassia; Blanchet, Reginald (April 3, 2010). "Interview with Judith Butler". Hurly-Burly: The International Lacanian Journal of Psychoanalysis. 3.
- Butler, Judith (2011), "Lecture notes", in Ronell, Avital; Joubert, Joseph (eds.), Georges Perros (Issue 983 of Collection Europe), Paris: Europe, ISBN 9782351500385. Details.
- Butler, Judith; Hark, Sabine (2018), "Defamation and the Grammar of Harsh Words", in Sweetapple, Christopher (ed.), The Queer Intersectional in Contemporary Germany, Applied Sexology, Psychosocial-Verlag, pp. 203–207, ISBN 978383797444-7, ISSN 2367-2420
- Ryzik, Melena (August 22, 2012). "Pussy Riot Was Carefully Calibrated for Protest". The New York Times. Retrieved August 23, 2012.
- Duignan, Brian (2018). "Judith Butler". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved November 2, 2018.
- Halberstam, Jack (May 16, 2014). "An audio overview of queer theory in English and Turkish by Jack Halberstam". Retrieved May 29, 2014.
- Kearns, Gerry (2013). "The Butler affair and the geopolitics of identity" (PDF). Environment and Planning D: Society and Space. 31 (2): 191–207. doi:10.1068/d1713.
- "Judith Butler, European Graduate School". Retrieved July 14, 2015.
- Thulin, Lesley (April 19, 2012). "Feminist theorist Judith Butler rethinks kinship". Columbia Spectator. Retrieved October 9, 2013.
- "Judith Butler". McGill Reporter. McGill. Retrieved October 9, 2013.
- Gans, Chaim (December 13, 2013). "Review of Judith Butler's "Parting Ways: Jewishness and the Critique of Zionism"". Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews. Retrieved September 23, 2013.
- "US-Philosophin Butler: Israel vertritt mich nicht". Der Standard. September 15, 2012. Retrieved September 15, 2012.
- Regina Michalik (May 2001). "Interview with Judith Butler". Lola Press. Archived from the original on December 19, 2006. Retrieved March 1, 2010.
- Udi, Aloni (February 24, 2010). "Judith Butler: As a Jew, I was taught it was ethically imperative to speak up". Haaretz. Retrieved October 9, 2013.
- "Judith Butler and Michael Roth: A Conversation at Wesleyan University's Center for Humanities". Wesleyan University.
- "Tanner Lecture on Human Values: 2004–2005 Lecture Series". UC Berkeley. March 2005. Retrieved March 1, 2010.
- Eva von Redecker: Zur Aktualität von Judith Butler. Einleitung in ihr Werk. Wiesbaden 2011, S. 22.
- Maclay, Kathleen (March 19, 2009). "Judith Butler wins Mellon Award". UC Berkeley News. Media Relations. Retrieved March 1, 2010.
- Amsterdam, Universiteit van. "The Spinoza Chair - Philosophy - University of Amsterdam". Uva.nl. Retrieved December 4, 2017.
- "Judith Butler to Join Columbia U. as a Visiting Professor". Chronicle of Higher Education. October 20, 2010. Retrieved February 1, 2011.
- Woolfe, Zachary (October 10, 2010). "Professor trouble! Post-structuralist star Judith Butler headed to Columbia". New York, New York: Capital New York. Retrieved February 1, 2011.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on September 20, 2014. Retrieved September 20, 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "Judith Butler - Center for the Study of Social Difference". December 21, 2012. Archived from the original on December 21, 2012.
- "JAC Online | Editorial Staff". Jaconlinejournal.com. Retrieved August 31, 2017.
- "Masthead". Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society. August 22, 2012. Retrieved August 31, 2017.
- Butler, Judith (1988). "Performative Acts and Gender Constitution: An Essay in Phenomenology and Feminist Theory". Theatre Journal. 40 (4): 519–531. doi:10.2307/3207893. JSTOR 3207893.
- Rivkin, Julie, and Michael Ryan. Literary Theory: An Anthology. 2nd ed. Malden, Massachusetts: Blackwell Pub., 2004. Print.
- Loizidou, Elena (2007). Judith Butler: Ethics, Law, Politics. Routledge. p. 1.
- Butler, Judith (1999) . Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. New York: Routledge. xxviii–xxix. ISBN 978-84-493-2030-9.
- Larissa MacFarquhar, "Putting the Camp Back into Campus," Lingua Franca (September/October 1993); see also Judith Butler, "Decamping," Lingua Franca (November–December 1993). Reprinted in Quick Studies: The Best of Lingua Franca, Farrar Straus Giroux, 2002, pp. 71–74.
- For Butler's critique of biological accounts of sexual difference as a ruse for the cultural construction of "natural" sex, see Butler, Judith (1999) . "Concluding Unscientific Postscript". Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. New York: Routledge. pp. 144–50. ISBN 978-84-493-2030-9.
- Butler explicitly formulates her theory of performativity in the final pages of Gender Trouble, specifically in the final section of her chapter "Subversive Bodily Acts" entitled "Bodily Inscriptions, Performative Subversions" and elaborates performativity in relation to the question of political agency in her conclusion, "From Parody to Politics." See Butler, Judith (1999) . Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. New York: Routledge. pp. 171–90. ISBN 978-84-493-2030-9.
- For Butler's discussion of the performative co-construction of sex and gender see Butler, Judith (1999) . Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. New York: Routledge. pp. 163–71, 177–8. ISBN 978-84-493-2030-9. The signification of sex is also addressed in connection with Monique Wittig in the section "Monique Wittig: Bodily Disintegrations and Fictive Sex," pp. 141–63
- For Butler's problematization of the sex/gender distinction see Butler, Judith (1999) . Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. New York: Routledge. pp. 9–11, 45–9. ISBN 978-84-493-2030-9.
- Judith Butler. Oxford reference Online Premium. January 2010. ISBN 9780199532919.
- Feminist Perspectives on Sex and Gender. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 2017.
- Butler, Judith. "Imitation and Gender Insubordination1." Cultural theory and popular culture: A reader 1 (2006): 255.
- For example, Jeffreys, Sheila (September–October 1994). "The queer disappearance of lesbians: Sexuality in the academy". Women's Studies International Forum. 17 (5): 459–472. doi:10.1016/0277-5395(94)00051-4.
- Butler, Judith (1993). Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of "Sex". New York: Routledge. p. 95. ISBN 978-0-415-90365-3.
- Jagger, Gill (2008). Judith Butler: Sexual politics, social change and the power of the performative. New York: Routledge. pp. 115–8. ISBN 978-0-415-21975-4.
- Butler, Judith (1997). Excitable Speech: A Politics of the Performative. New York: Routledge. p. 22. ISBN 978-0-415-91588-5.
Similarly, MacKinnon's appeal to the state to construe pornography as performative speech and, hence, as the injurious conduct of representation, does not settle the theoretical question of the relation between representation and conduct, but collapses the distinction in order to enhance the power of state intervention over graphic sexual representation.
- Butler, Judith (1997). Excitable Speech: A Politics of the Performative. New York: Routledge. pp. 129–33. ISBN 978-0-415-91588-5.
- For example, Foucault, Michel (1990) . The History of Sexuality: An Introduction. Vol 1. Trans. Robert Hurley. New York: Vintage. p. 23.
A censorship of sex? There was installed [since the 17th century] rather an apparatus for producing an ever greater quantity of discourse about sex, capable of functioning and taking effect in its very economy.
- Butler, Judith (1997). Excitable Speech: A Politics of the Performative. New York: Routledge. p. 140. ISBN 978-0-415-91588-5.
- Butler, Judith (2004). Undoing Gender. New York: Routledge
- Colapinto, J (June 3, 2004). "Gender Gap: What were the real reasons behind David Reimer's suicide?". Slate. Retrieved February 13, 2009.
- Butler, Judith (2001). "Giving an Account of Oneself". Diacritics. 31 (4): 22–40. doi:10.1353/dia.2004.0002. JSTOR 1566427.
- "Giving an Account of Oneself". Fordham University Press. Retrieved October 17, 2018.
- Aránguiz, Francisco; Carmen Luz Fuentes-Vásquez; Manuela Mercado; Allison Ramay; Juan Pablo Vilches (June 2011). "Meaningful "Protests" in the Kitchen: An Interview with Judith Butler" (PDF). White Rabbit: English Studies in Latin America. 1. Archived from the original (PDF) on April 3, 2015. Retrieved October 9, 2013.
- Butler, Judith. "Judith Butler's Statement on the Queer Palestinian Activists Tour". alQaws for Sexual & Gender Diversity in Palestinian Society. Archived from the original on October 23, 2013. Retrieved October 9, 2013.
- Butler, Judith (September 2011). "Bodies in Alliance and the Politics of the Street". European Institute for Progressive Cultural Policies (eipcp). Retrieved October 9, 2013.
- Butler, Judith (May 2010). "Queer Alliance and Anti-War Politics". War Resisters' International (WRI). Archived from the original on August 8, 2014. Retrieved October 9, 2013.
- Saar, Tsafi (February 21, 2013). "Fifty Shades of Gay: Amalia Ziv Explains Why Her Son Calls Her 'Dad'". Haaretz.
- McRobbie, Angela (January 18, 2009). "The pope doth protest". The Guardian. Retrieved October 9, 2013.
- Bruno Perreau, Queer Theory: The French Response, Stanford University Press, 2016, p. 58-59 and 75-81.
- Rottenberg, Catherine (August 27, 2003). "Judith Butler". The Literary Encyclopedia. Retrieved October 9, 2013.
- Barney, Darin. "In Defense of Judith Butler". Huffington Post. Retrieved October 9, 2013.
- Dutton, Denis (1998). "Bad Writing Contest".
- Hekman, Susan (1998). "Material Bodies." Body and Flesh: a Philosophical Reader ed. by Donn Welton. Blackwell Publishing. pp. 61–70.
- Nussbaum, Martha (February 22, 1999). "The Professor of Parody" (PDF). The New Republic. Archived from the original on August 3, 2007.
- Fraser, Nancy (1995). "False Antitheses." In Seyla Benhabib, Judith Butler, Drucilla Cornell and Nancy Fraser (eds.), Feminist Contentions: A Philosophical Exchange. Routledge. p. 67.
- Margaret Soenser Breen 2 and Warren J. Blumenfeld,3 4 with Susanna Baer, Robert Alan Brookey, Lynda Hall, Vicky Kirby, Diane Helene Miller, Robert Shail, and Natalie Wilson. "There is A Person Here"1 : An Interview with Judith Butler International Journal of Sexuality and Gender Studies. Vol. 6, No. 1/2, 2001.
- Namaste, Viviane. 2009. "Undoing Theory: The "Transgender Question" and the Epistemic Violence of Anglo-American Feminist Theory." Hypatia 24 (3):pp. 11-32.
- Laurie, Timothy (2014), "The Ethics of Nobody I Know: Gender and the Politics of Description", Qualitative Research Journal, 14 (1): 72, doi:10.1108/QRJ-03-2014-0011, hdl:10453/44221
- "Weiberzank - oder politische Kontroverse? | ALICE SCHWARZER". Alice Schwarzer (in German). Retrieved December 4, 2017.
- mmoneymaker (July 23, 2018). "OutRight Now: Reunion 2018". Global LGBT Human Rights Organization | OutRight. Retrieved April 15, 2019.
- "Coming attractions for fall 2006". UC Berkeley. Retrieved September 6, 2015.
- Butler, Judith. I must distance myself from this complicity with racism (Video) Christopher Street Day 'Civil Courage Prize' Day Refusal Speech. June 19, 2010.
- "Judith Butler at Occupy Wall Street". Salon.com. October 24, 2011. Retrieved December 4, 2017.
- Butler, Judith (August 27, 2012). "Judith Butler responds to attack: 'I affirm a Judaism that is not associated with state violence'". Mondoweiss. Retrieved October 9, 2013.
- "Diaspora - Jewish people world news - The Jerusalem Post". Jpost.com. Retrieved December 4, 2017.
- "German Jews oppose award for US philosopher". Ynetnews.com. August 29, 2012. Retrieved December 4, 2017.
- "Frankfurt Ripped for Honoring Jewish-American Scholar Who Backs Israel Boycott". Haaretz.com. September 7, 2012. Retrieved December 4, 2017 – via Haaretz.
- JTA (September 7, 2012). "Frankfurt ripped for honoring Jewish-American scholar who backs Israel boycott". Haaretz. Retrieved October 9, 2013.
- Petra Marquardt-Bigman, "Defending Judith Butler in The Ivory Tower", The Algemeiner Journal, September 7, 2012.
- Weinthal, Benjamin (August 26, 2012). "Frankfurt to award US advocate of Israel boycott". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved October 9, 2013.
- Illouz, Eva (September 20, 2012). "Judith Butler gets a taste of her own politics". Haaretz. Retrieved October 9, 2013.
- Yancy, George; Butler, Judith (January 12, 2015). "What's Wrong With 'All Lives Matter'?". New York Times. New York Times. Retrieved March 7, 2015.
- "Battle Over Alleged Harassment Escalates as Former Graduate Student Sues Professor and NYU". The Chronicle of Higher Education. August 16, 2018.
- "Some say the particulars of the Ronell harassment case are moot, in that it all comes down to power".
- "Judith Butler Explains Letter in Support of Avital Ronell – Letters - Blogs - The Chronicle of Higher Education". www.chronicle.com. August 20, 2018.
- "Think Gender Is Performance? You Have Judith Butler to Thank for That". Nymag.com. June 21, 2016. Retrieved December 4, 2017.
- "Birkbeck, Department of Psychosocial Studies". Visiting Academics. Retrieved February 12, 2014.
- "British Academy Fellowship reaches 1,000 as 42 new UK Fellows are welcomed". July 16, 2015.
- "PinkNews' top 11 Jewish gay and lesbian icons". Pinknews.co.uk. Retrieved December 4, 2017.
- "Judith Butler honorary causa from University of Belgrade". autonomija.info. Retrieved July 22, 2018.
- "La philosophe américaine Judith Butler honorée à Fribourg". laliberte.ch. La Liberté. Retrieved November 17, 2014.
- "HONORANDS FROM 2007-2014" (PDF). University of St Andrews. Archived from the original (PDF) on November 29, 2014. Retrieved November 18, 2014.
- McGill Reporter. "Judith Butler, Doctor of Letters, honoris causa BA, MA MPhil, PhD (Yale University) Faculty of Arts, May 30". McGill Reporter. Retrieved June 2, 2013.
- Smith, Amelia (August 28, 2012). "Judith Butler wins Theodor Adorno Prize despite opponents". Middle East Monitor. Archived from the original on September 1, 2012.
- "Judith Butler: War Empathizer". Retrieved October 19, 2010.
- "03.19.2009 - Judith Butler wins Mellon Award". Berkeley.edu. Retrieved July 20, 2017.
- Barker, Derek W.M. (2009), "Judith Butler's postmodern antigone", in Barker, Derek W.M. (ed.), Tragedy and citizenship conflict, reconciliation, and democracy from Haemon to Hegel, Albany: State University of New York Press, p. 119, ISBN 9780791477403.
- Ian, Buchanan (2010). "Butler, Judith". A Dictionary of Critical Theory. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/acref/9780199532919.001.0001. ISBN 9780191726590. Retrieved October 9, 2013.
- "The Queer Intersectional in Contemporary Germany (PDF-E-Book). Essays on Racism, Capitalism and Sexual Politics". Psychosozial-Verlag (in German). Retrieved September 22, 2018.
- Chambers, Samuel A. and Terrell Carver. ''Judith Butler and Political Theory: Troubling Politics. New York: Routledge, 2008. ISBN 0-415-76382-7
- Cheah, Pheng, "Mattering," Diacritics, Volume 26, Number 1, Spring 1996, pp. 108–139.
- Karhu, Sanna (2017). From Violence to Resistance: Judith Butler's Critique of Norms (Ph.D. thesis). University of Helsinki. ISBN 978-951-51-3647-3.
- Kirby, Vicki. Judith Butler: Live Theory. London: Continuum, 2006. ISBN 0-8264-6293-6
- Eldred, Michael, 'Metaphysics of Feminism: A Critical Note on Judith Butler's Gender Trouble' 2008.
- Evans, Adrienne; Riley, Sarah; Shankar, Avi (2010). "Technologies of sexiness: theorizing women's engagement in the sexualization of culture". Feminism & Psychology. 20: 114–131. doi:10.1177/0959353509351854. From the paper's abstract: In this paper we contribute to these [sexualization of culture] debates by presenting 'technologies of sexiness', a theoretical framework that draws on Foucauldian theorizing of technologies of the self and Butler's work on performativity.
- Kulick, Don (April 2003). "No". Language & Communication. 23 (2): 139–151. doi:10.1016/S0271-5309(02)00043-5. Pdf. Considers performativity from a linguistic perspective.
- Perreau, Bruno. Queer Theory: The French Response, Stanford, CA, Stanford University Press, 2016. ISBN 978-1-503-60044-7
- Salih, Sarah. The Judith Butler Reader. Malden, Massachusetts: Blackwell, 2004. ISBN 0-631-22594-3
- —. ''Routledge Critical Thinkers: Judith Butler. New York: Routledge, 2002. ISBN 0-415-21519-6
- Schippers, Birgit. The Political Philosophy of Judith Butler. New York: Routledge, 2014. ISBN 0-415-52212-9
- Thiem, Annika. Unbecoming Subjects: Judith Butler, Moral Philosophy, and Critical Responsibility. New York: Fordham University Press, 2008. ISBN 0-8232-2899-1
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Judith Butler.|
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Judith Butler|
- Biography – University of California, Berkeley
- Works by or about Judith Butler in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
- on YouTube approach the notion of affinity through a discussion of "Disruptive Kinship," co-sponsored by Villa Gillet and the School of Writing at The New School for Public Engagement.
- Interview of Judith Butler about her new book "Frames of War" on New Statesman
- Review of "Giving an Account of Oneself. Ethical Violence and Responsibility", by Judith Butler, Barcelona Metropolis Autumn 2010. (in English)
- "Dictionary of Literary Biography on Judith P. Butler (page 3)"
- Interview with Judith Butler about politics, economy, control societies, gender and identity (2011)
- on YouTube