Is Gender Still Burning?: Popularized Resonances of Judith Butler’s Work in the Performing Arts
2017 (English)Conference paper, Abstract (Refereed)
The point of departure for this paper is the popularized version of Butler’s ideas that has flourished in contemporary performing arts as an important political, artistic, and activist footprint of her work. These ideas have inspired a generation of queer feminist artists, performers, protestors, and scholars. The legacy of Butler’s early work is tailored to performance, a fact that one of her early texts, “Performative Acts and Gender Constitution: An Essay on Phenomenology and Feminist Theory” (1989) confirms. In it she describes destabilized gender identities as repeated corporeal acts that require a conception of a constituted social temporality, something she developed in dialogue with theatre and performance scholars.
Butler’s international breakthrough, Gender Trouble (1990), disseminated the idea that gender is not something we are but something we continually do. It opened the door to confounding the binarism of sex and gender, and in doing so exposed its fundamental unnaturalness. Butler and queer scholars have been responding to phenomena already present in queer culture by creating theoretical frameworks for them. Regardless of whether artists know of Butler’s gender theory, popularized forms of it are taken for granted today by many younger queer feminist theatre and performance artists. Had it not been for Butler’s work, they might not have had the understanding of gender queerness that they now have. Butler’s notion of the body not being a stable foundation for gender expression, and at the same time pointing out subversive strategies that challenge heteronormative conceptions, has been a fertile stepping stone for queer feminist performance artists. Her insight has given them a way of thinking critically about gender, as well as other intersectional axes of power, such as age, class, disability, and race, all of which continues to be of great importance for the performing arts.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Judith Butler, performance, performativity, popular culture, speech acts, theatricality
Performing Art Studies
Research subject Theatre Studies
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-141594OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-141594DiVA: diva2:1087605
Critical Theory in Humanities: Resonances of the Work of Judith Butler,Critical Theory in Humanities: Resonances of the Work of Judith Butler, CLUE: Research Institute for Culture, History, and Heritage, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, April, 5–7, 2017