Culture and the Media
The Gendered Subject
(1) Tyler, T. (1996). Constructing and Performing Genders. Perspectives on Visual Culture: From Humanism to Post-Humanism. Leeds: Leeds Metropolitan University, pp. 63-67.
(2) Butler, J., Osborne, P., and Segal, L. (1994). Gender as Performance: An Interview with Judith Butler. Radical Philosophy 67 (Summer), pp. 32-39. Reprinted in: Osborne, P. (ed.) (1996). A Critical Sense: Interviews with Intellectuals. London: Routledge, pp. 109-25 (110-13).

Judith Butler has argued that the key means by which men and women are distinguished from one another in contemporary culture is the way in which they perform their gender. Subtle forms of punishment are exerted over those subjects who fail to perform their gender ‘correctly’, or those who choose deliberately to subvert these gender norms.

Further Reading

Austin, J. L. (1975). How To Do Things With Words. 2nd ed. Urmson, J.O. and Sbisą, M. (eds.). Oxford: Clarendon. Includes a discussion of linguistic performatives, as mentioned by Butler (Butler, Osborne and Segal, 1994, pp. 112).

Bulter, J. (1988). Performative Acts and Gender Constitution: An Essay in Phenomenology and Feminist Theory. Theatre Journal 49(1) (December), pp. 519-31. Reprinted in: Case, S. (ed.) (1990). Performing Feminisms: Feminist Critical Theory and Theatre. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, pp. 270-82. Retrieved 12 January 2006 from here. Butler's most concise statement of her 'performative' understanding of gender. Dense and difficult.

Butler, J. (1990). Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. London: Routledge, pp. 134-41. The key section in the first of Butler's books to deal with gender.

Butler, J. (1993). Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of 'Sex'. London: Routledge. Butler's second book on gender, in which she explicitly addresses the suggestion that she ignored the question of biological sex.

Butler, J., Osborne, P., and Segal, L. (1994). Gender as Performance: An Interview with Judith Butler. Radical Philosophy 67 (Summer), pp. 32-39. Reprinted in: Osborne, P. (ed.) (1996). A Critical Sense: Interviews with Intellectuals. London: Routledge, pp. 109-25. Retrieved 11 January 2006 from here (extracts). Interview with Butler which addresses issues raised by both Gender Trouble (1990) and Bodies That Matter (1993).

Butler, J. (2004). Undoing Gender. London: Routledge. A relatively accessible collection of essays in which Butler returns to the question of gender.

Elliott, A. (2001). Concepts of the Self. Cambridge: Polity, pp. 115-21 (Chapter 4). This chapter locates Bulter within the discourses of feminism, psychoanalysis and queer theory.

Foucault, M. (1990). The History of Sexuality, Vol.1: An Introduction. Harmondsworth: Penguin. Foucault analyses the shifting relationship between power and sexuality during the 18th and 19th centuries and into the present.

Gauntlett, D. (2002). Media, Gender and Identity: An Introduction. London: Routledge, pp. 134-51 (Chapter 7). Gauntlett discusses Butler and queer theory in this characteristically clear chapter.

Goffman, E. (1990). The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. London: Penguin. Goffman's influential approach to social interaction in terms of an extended theatrical metaphor.

Guy, A., Green, E. and Banim, M. (eds) (2003). Through the Wardrobe: Women's Relationships with Their Clothes. Oxford: Berg. A series of essays on the importance of clothing for our sense of personal identity.

King, L. (2003). Subjectivity as Identity: Gender Through the Lens of Foucault. In: Bratich, J. Z., Packer, J. and McCarthy, C. (eds) Foucault, Cultural Studies, and Governmentality. New York: SUNY Press, pp. 337-52. Uses Foucault's analyses of normalizing power and embodied practices in the process of identity production, focusing particularly on David Reimer.

McRobbie, A. (2005). The Uses of Cultural Studies. London: Sage, pp. 67-96 (Chapter 3). This chapter deals with Butler's relationship to feminist theory and psychanalysis, and her account of performativity (pp. 83-89).

Salih, S. (2002). Judith Butler. London: Routledge. An introduction to Butler's work.


Theory, Culture and Society 16(2) (1999), 'Performativity and Belonging'. Bell, V. (ed.). Retrieved 11 January 2006 from here (abstracts). The entire issue of this journal is available via Brookes electronic catalogue.