Day Four: February 8

Judith Butler: An Ethical "Evolution"?

Today serves as a small/partial introduction to J Butler's engagement with ethics. We are discussing excerpts from Undoing Gender, Precarious Life and Frames of War. We are also discussing an interview she did with William Connolly on ethics and politics. Here's what I want to do today:

  • Brief overview of some influences/traditions that Butler draws upon
  • Introduction, through video clips, to some key themes
  • Close reading of essays/troubling passages

An Overview of some influences/traditions/themes

  • Jewish Philosophy: Spinoza
  • Hegel and recognition/Subjects of Desire
  • Foucault
  • Nietzsche
  • Frankfurt School of Critical Theory: Adorno/Horkheimer
  • Ernesto Laclau and Radical Democracy
  • ACT UP, Queer Nation
  • Althusser and interpellation
  • Levinas and the face
  • Intelligibility and recognition
  • Ambivalence
  • Anxiety/difficulty
  • Grief, mourning, melancholy
  • suffering
  • AIDS
  • 9/11
  • Norms
  • Non-violence
  • Precariousness
  • Bodies
  • Livable life/possibility/unlivability
  • Critique/dissent
  • Unknowingness
  • Trouble/being undone
  • failure
  • limits
  • Agency/resistance
  • Space/room to breathe/to live (freedom?)
  • the human/non-human
  • Struggle

Butler Speaks...

"It's not a system" (at 5:10) from Judith Butler: Philosopher Encounters of the Third Kind



What is meant by Undoing Gender? (2:27)



"What does it mean to take a walk?" (with Sunaura Taylor)


A close reading of some passages...

Here a few from me:

from Undoing Gender, page 12:

Screen shot 2011-02-08 at 10.43.41 AM.png

from "Precarious Life":

(from 141)

Screen shot 2011-02-08 at 10.46.07 AM.png


(page 147)

Screen shot 2011-02-08 at 10.46.37 AM.png

(page 151)

Screen shot 2011-02-08 at 10.51.24 AM.png

Here's a passage that might be helpful from the introduction to Frames of War (13)

Screen shot 2011-02-08 at 12.12.25 PM.png

and more from Frames of War:
page 77

Screen shot 2011-02-08 at 12.34.25 PM.png
Screen shot 2011-02-08 at 12.34.33 PM.png

FYI: Here's a link to Sontag's "Regarding the Torture of Others"

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