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Showing posts from February, 2019

#7: Gender is Burning - 06/03/2019

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Wednesday 6 March | 5 - 6.30pm | LAHRI (29-31 Clarendon Place) | All welcome

For our third session of the semester, we will be reading Butler's fourth chapter from Bodies That Matter, 'Gender is Burning: Questions of Appropriation and Subversion' (1993). In an analysis of of the legendary queer documentary Paris is Burning (dir. Jennie Livingston, 1990), Butler contests any assumed relation between drag and subversion. She uses the documentary as a touchstone for thinking about the ways in which drag performance risks reidealising certain gender, racial, and class norms - and for considering the subversive potential of the systems of kinship underpinning drag ball culture. Touching on issues such as spectatorship and fetishisation, Butler argues for the ambivalent modalities of power embedded in the queer subcultures of drag balls. 

A pdf of the chapter can be found here. Butler's chapter makes a number of important responses to negative criticisms of Paris is Burning, m…

#6: 'My life, your life, equality and the philosophy of non-violence' 13/02/2019

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Wednesday 13 February | 5 - 6.30pm | LHRI | All welcome

This semester’s second session will be a discussion of Butler’s Gifford lectures given at the University of Glasgow in October 2018. Entitled ‘My life, your life, equality and the philosophy of non-violence’, Butler’s lectures continue and develop her work on both precarity and grievability. Butler aims to uncover the mechanisms which define which life is determined as a life, which loss is registered as a loss. Critical of the myth of individualism and the concomitant notion of a subject-centred morality, Butler produces what she terms a ‘counter-fantasy’, an ethics that registers our mutual dependency and fundamental relationality. Butler’s notion of non-violence is not a call for pacificism, but rather an active and ‘aggressive’ response to the violent effects of contemporary biopolitical structures.


Our discussion will focus primarily, but will not be restricted to, Butler’s first and third Gifford lectures. We will also be rea…