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 Trouble, the 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.