Cover image for Gender trouble : feminism and the subversion of identity
Gender trouble : feminism and the subversion of identity
Butler, Judith, 1956-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Routledge, [1999]

Physical Description:
xxxiii, 221 pages ; 23 cm
General Note:
Originally published: New York : Routledge, 1990.
Reading Level:
1580 Lexile.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HQ1154 .B88 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Since its publication in 1990, Gender Troublehas become one of the key works of contemporary feminist theory, and an essential work for anyone interested in the study of gender, queer theory, or the politics of sexuality in culture.

Author Notes

Judith Butler was born in 1956. She is nationally known for her writings on gender and sexuality. She argues that men and women are not dissimilar and that the notion they are is cultural not biological in books such as Bodies That Matter: On The Discursive Limits Of "Sex" (1993), Excitable Speech: Contemporary Scenes Of Politics (1996), and The Psychic Life Of Power: Theories In Subjection (1997). In Gender Trouble (1990), the title a play on John Waters' camp classic Female Trouble (1975), Butler claims that both gender and drag are a kind of imitation for which there is no original.

A professor of philosophy at University of California at Berkeley, Butler attended Yale, receiving a B.A. in 1978 and a Ph.D. in philosophy in 1984.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

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. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

A significant contribution to increasingly sophisticated feminist theorizing. Aimed primarily at readers familiar both with current feminist scholarship and with recent nonfeminist European (especially French) philosophy, anthropology, and psychology, the book contests the common notion that one's sex is a precultural, anatomical given and that one's gender is a psychocultural epiphenomenon based on one's sex. Instead, argues Butler, the category of sex itself is a heavily culture-laden construct that society unconsciously and continually formulates (while simultaneously creating the view that sex is a biological, binary, precultural fact). Peoples' perceptions of themselves and each other are then deeply immersed in this cultural construct that gives sexual identity an aura of self-evidence. Useful for graduate and advanced undergraduate courses in women studies. R. W. Smith California State University, Northridge

Table of Contents

Preface (1999)p. vii
Preface (1990)p. xxvii
1 Subjects of Sex/Gender/Desirep. 3
I "Women" as the Subject of Feminismp. 3
II The Compulsory Order of Sex/Gender/Desirep. 9
III Gender: The Circular Ruins of Contemporary Debatep. 11
IV Theorizing the Binary, the Unitary, and Beyondp. 18
V Identity, Sex, and the Metaphysics of Substancep. 22
VI Language, Power, and the Strategies of Displacementp. 33
2 Prohibition, Psychoanalysis, and the Production of the Heterosexual Matrixp. 45
I Structuralism's Critical Exchangep. 49
II Lacan, Riviere, and the Strategies of Masqueradep. 55
III Freud and the Melancholia of Genderp. 73
IV Gender Complexity and the Limits of Identificationp. 84
V Reformulating Prohibition as Powerp. 91
3 Subversive Bodily Actsp. 101
I The Body Politics of Julia Kristevap. 101
II Foucault, Herculine, and the Politics of Sexual Discontinuityp. 119
III Monique Wittig: Bodily Disintegration and Fictive Sexp. 141
IV Bodily Inscriptions, Performative Subversionsp. 163
Conclusion: From Parody to Politicsp. 181
Notesp. 191
Indexp. 217