ERIC Number: ED382967
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1995-Apr
Reference Count: N/A
Teaching Feminist Theory via Philosophy: Political Implications of an Ontological Inquiry in Judith Butler's "Gender Trouble."
Rather than begin an undergraduate class in feminist theory with the assertion that such theory is important because of its social implications--and then attempt to prove it--it is more effective to begin with a more neutral philosophical discussion that will act as a foundation for its premises. Judith Butler's essay "Gender Trouble" becomes an effective pedagogical tool as it engages the ontological root of the matter--the traditional conception of identity that produces phallocentric public policy as its effect. Challenging the familiar conception of identity, whereby external behavior is governed by the edicts of an interior essence, Butler argues for a model of identity through imitation. In the attempt to "be a woman," for instance, a young girl imitates the gestures and actions of a real, historical woman; but the girl is taught to conceive of those gestures as the expression of an essential femininity "within." By subverting the idea that gender identity is the product of an inevitable structural law, or the expression of a natural essence, Butler's critique allows readers to pay attention to what she calls the disciplinary powers that prescribe and regulate behavior. (Author/TB)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Butler (Judith); Critical Pedagogy; Gender Trouble (Butler); Subjectivity
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Joint Meetings of the Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association (Philadelphia, PA, April 12-15, 1995).