Butler, Judith

Butler, Judith, 1956–, American philosopher and political theorist, b. Cleveland, Ph.D. Yale University, 1984. Holds the Hannah Arendt Chair at The European Graduate School and is the Maxine Elliot Professor in the Department of Comparative Literature and the Program of Critical Theory at the University of California, Berkeley. An interdisciplinary scholar, Butler is noted for her innovative and critical readings across philosophy, psychoanalysis, literary theory, queer theory, and other fields. She has written extensively on a number of subjects and topics, including, but not limited to, gender, performativity, the production and reproduction of marginality, ethics, alterity, bodily vulnerability, political collectives, and public assembly. Butler received both academic and popular attention in 1990 with the book Gender Trouble, which challenged fundamental assumptions in feminist theory and philosophy. Butler problematized the seeming fixity of the binary system of gender by making the key point that the "naturalness" of the female and male sexed bodies is in fact the effect of repeated performative acts, and thus socially constructed and open to contestation. In her understanding of the "performativity" of identity, Butler has been influenced by Lacanian psychoanalysis, phenomenology, structural anthropologists, and speech-act theory.

She has been the recipient of numerous prizes and honors, including the Research Lecturer honor at UC Berkeley in 2005, the Andrew Mellon Award for Distinguished Academic Achievement in the Humanities (2009–13), the Adorno Prize from the City of Frankfurt (2012), and the Brudner Prize from Yale University for lifetime achievement in gay and lesbian studies. In 2015 she was elected as a corresponding fellow of the British Academy. She has received fellowships from Guggenheim, Rockefeller, Ford, and the American Council of Learned Societies. In 2019 she was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She served as the President of the Modern Language Association in from 2020–2021. Her books have been translated into 27 languages. Beyond the academy, Butler is known for her popular writings on contemporary politics. She is active in gender and sexual politics, anti-war politics, human rights, and serves on the boards of Jewish Voice for Peace, the Advisory Council of The New University in Exile at the New School University, and the Center for Constitutional Rights. Butler's preferred pronouns are she or they.

Her books include Subjects of Desire: Hegelian Reflections in Twentieth-Century France (1987), Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (1990), Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of "Sex" (1993), The Psychic Life of Power: Theories of Subjection (1997), Excitable Speech: A Politics of the Performative (1997), Antigone's Claim: Kinship Between Life and Death (2000), Undoing Gender (2004), Precarious Life: The Power of Mourning and Violence (2004), Giving an Account of Oneself (2005), Frames of War: When Is Life Grievable? (2009), Parting Ways: Jewishness and the Critique of Zionism (2012), Senses of the Subject (2015), Notes Toward a Performative Theory of Assembly (2015), and The Force of Nonviolence: An Ethico-Political Bind (2020).

See S. Salih, ed. The Judith Butler Reader (2004); M. Lloyd, Judith Butler: From Norms to Politics (2007); L. Silberstein, ed., Postzionism: A Reader (2008); A. Brady and T. Schirato, Understanding Judith Butler (2011); A. Kroker, Body Drift: Butler, Hayles, Haraway (2012); B. Schippers, The Political Philosophy of Judith Butler (2014).

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