Judith Butler has Great Hair, Lively Hands in New Promotional Video

How much Judith Butler is just enough? Have you read her in class? Did you follow her involvement in the BDS debacle at Brooklyn College? Did you freak out when you heard she was speaking at Memorial Chapel? Do you think she critically analyzed Zionism to satisfactory depth that Wednesday? (If not, don’t worry; the talk was adapted from parts of her new book.) I know you read the 8-part countdown and wrap-up series that Kelsey Henry ’15 wrote for the Pyxis blog, so I won’t even ask about that.

Anyway, if you’ve even read this far without clicking play on the YouTube embed above, you may or may not be surprised to know that Wesleyan recently released a 15-minute interview with Butler (who was a visiting professor here from 1984 to 1986, if Wikipedia is to be believed) for your viewing pleasure, from her visit back in February. Interestingly, top-level administrators decided to give the honor of interviewing the widely read philosopher to Michael S. Roth ’78, a visiting professor in the Art History department, over someone more established at Wesleyan. Life’s like a box of chocolates, yo.

The conversation spans a range of topics; Butler speaks on her own introduction to philosophy (she received a “punished” by engaging in a tutorial on philosophy with her Rabbi), writing feminist theory (her friends encouraged her to do it), her reaction to 9/11, Gender Troublethe importance of memorialization, a book recommendation (of course), and much more. Spoiler alert: she did not have much to say about being tweeted about or being surrounded by humanities majors. Once you’ve devoured the interview, you might want to check out what was my first substantial introduction to Butler’s thought, a lecture she presented at a conference called The Anarchist Turn.  Just stop reading this and go engage with JuBu; she’s good at words and I’m not. Seriously, stop reading. I’m getting nervous.

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4 thoughts on “Judith Butler has Great Hair, Lively Hands in New Promotional Video

  1. Pingback: Happy Birthday, Michael S. Roth ’78! | Wesleying

  2. anon

    hey, i just wanted to say that the parenthetical phrase “(her friends bugged her to do it)” is not only an exaggeration of what was said, but also a repetition of the demeaning work that is done to feminism all the time–work that often focuses on how “annoying” or “bothersome” feminists are. Think about the different effect the word “encourage” would have had over “bugged.” Obviously the humor is gone, but the word encourage is as accurate as bugged in this context. Butler herself is maybe repeating this demeaning work through humor, and i think, making fun of her past self, but just because Butler might do it doesn’t mean it’s cool. if there was a moment of self-reflection in her humor, your translation doesn’t represent it. i assume that none of this was intentional, but it is simply my reaction to the description. it feels especially sensitive given how important Butler has been for feminists (and queers and others) and the establishment of their respective fields.

    1. Batte_A

      I didn’t think about that at all, and you’re right to point out the connection to the use of the “annoying” stereotype to silence feminists. Sorry about that, and thanks for gently calling me out. Sexism doesn’t have to be intentional.

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