Justus-Liebig-Universität GießenInstitut für Angewandte Theaterwissenschaft
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Where Discourse and Matter meet: Performativity, Subjection and Materialisation in the Theoretical Framework of Judith Butler


BA 04,05
CuP 02,08,09

The aim of this seminar is to gain a closer insight into the theoretical framework of one of the most important recent philosophers in critical theory: Judith Butler.
Especially her interest in the body as contested site for performative materialisation and the formation of the subject, as agent for political struggle and cultural re-signification, opens various perspectives in the frame of critical performance and movement studies.
We will deal with the theoretical concepts contained in her major works - gender performativity and regulative discourses (Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity) - frameworks of intelligibility and materialisation (Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of "Sex") - politics of the performative (Excitable Speech: A Politics of the Performative), together with some of her less known writings on subjectivation ( The Psychic Life of Power: Theories in Subjection) the limits of self-knowledge (Giving An Account of Oneself) and precarity (Precarious Life: The Powers of Mourning and Violence).
The seminar discusses this mayor theorems of Butler also in order to raise the question in how far her claim for political agency adhered to an embodied subject within a sphere of cultural and social signification, together with her practical need for an outspoken political critique, still provides us with an important position in a world of "vibrant matter" and post-human agency.

In order to clearify the Butlerian lines of thought and argumentation we will also deal, where needed, with writings of her predecessors like Foucault, Derrida, Althusser, Freud and Lacan.