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date: 14 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter explores the concepts of performativity and performance in feminist theory. It begins by examining the idea of gender performativity in the work of Judith Butler, tracing its development from her earliest writings through Gender Trouble and Bodies That Matter, and showing how Butler’s initial argument draws from phenomenology and from performance studies (where acts are understood in theatrical terms). This is followed by a discussion of gender understood ethnomethodologically as a type of routine performance or form of “doing.” The second half of the chapter focuses on linguistic theories of performativity, derived from J. L. Austin and Jacques Derrida, and how they have been used by feminists, such as Catharine MacKinnon, Rae Langton, and Judith Butler, to illustrate pornography and hate speech. After a discussion of the performativity of pornography, the focus turns to citationality, resignification, and “talking back.”

Keywords: gender performativity, linguistic performativity, gender as doing, gender performance, ethnomethodology, theatrical acts, pornography, hate speech, talking back

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