Entry on Performativity

I've just accepted an invitation to write the entry for "performativity" for the forthcoming (from Greenwood Press, in case anyone was interested) Encyclopedia of Third Wave Feminism, edited by Leslie Heywood. While I'm grateful for and excited about the opportunity, this will prove to be one of the more difficult pieces I've been asked to write: It can only be 750 words, and the audience is high school/undergraduate/general public. I want to explain it clearly and get the theory right at the same time, if possible. Will I be able to do it?


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c'mon, you could do it if the

c'mon, you could do it if the entry had to be 350 words and your audience were the NRA. lol. --amy

The performativity of sexuali

The performativity of sexuality and gender in 10 words or fewer:

"Relax kid, everyone's in drag."

(Now the political implications thereof and critiques of some people's understandings of those implications and so forth--there will be the tricky part. But of course you can do it. Rock on. And congrats!)

You made my day!

Rad Geek: I love it!! And thanks for the encouragement, Amy. I'm hoping this will be a tie-in to one of my prelims questions, which is going to be a "set forth a theory of gender for studying gender online" type of question. I've noticed that, even among women's studies scholars, when I talk about my interest in gender and blogging, I get some version of the "But how do you know they're really women?" question. I want to argue that studying gender online is not that much more problematic than studying it face-to-face. How do I know I'm really a woman? Or my mother or grandmother? I plan to use Young's theory of gender as seriality and, of course, Butler and performativity.

Writing on performativity

So I'm having this discussion with my writing partner, who says we can only use "performativity" in Butler's sense--that is, applied to gender, race, culture. And I'm saying No, we can use it in Austin's sense, as anything in which the action and what it is signified by become the same--so (Austin's example) when the preacher says "I now pronounce you....," or (my example) when a performance artist is "performing," and the artist's body and the performance are the same thing. It's not that "performativity" isn't the right word for what Butler is writing about, it's that "performativity" has many more applications than Butler writes about. Am I just hopelessly swimming against a disciplinary tide here, or what?


Disciplinary Tide

If I'm not mistaken, Butler borrowed the concepts of performativity and citationality from speech act theory to analyze gender. IMO, it's perfectly acceptable to use the term when discussing issues other than gender and race. It seems to me that your writing partner has disciplinary blinders up.

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