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The Queer Turn in Feminism

Identities, Sexualities, and the Theater of Gender

Anne Emmanuelle Berger is currently professor of French Literature and Gender Studies at the Universite Paris 8 Vincennes Saint-Denis, where she heads the Centre d’etudes feminines et d’etudes de genre. She is also director of a new national Institute for

Publication Year: 2013

More than any other area of late-twentieth-century thinking, gender theory and its avatars have been to a large extent a Franco-American invention. In this book, a leading Franco-American scholar traces differences and intersections in the development of gender and queer theories on both sides of the Atlantic. Looking at these theories through lenses that are both “American” and “French,” thus simultaneously retrospective and anticipatory, she tries to account for their alleged exhaustion and currency on the two sides of the Atlantic. The book is divided into four parts. In the first, the author examines two specifically “American” features of gender theories since their earliest formulations: on the one hand, an emphasis on the theatricality of gender (from John Money’s early characterization of gender as “role playing” to Judith Butler’s appropriation of Esther Newton’s work on drag queens); on the other, the early adoption of a “queer” perspective on gender issues. In the second part, the author reflects on a shift in the rhetoric concerning sexual minorities and politics that is prevalent today. Noting a shift from efforts by oppressed or marginalized segments of the population to make themselves “heard” to an emphasis on rendering themselves “visible,” she demonstrates the formative role of the American civil rights movement in this new drive to visibility. The third part deals with the travels back and forth across the Atlantic of “sexual difference,” ever since its elevation to the status of quasi-concept by psychoanalysis. Tracing the “queering” of sexual difference, the author reflects on both the modalities and the effects of this development. The last section addresses the vexing relationship between Western feminism and capitalism. Without trying either to commend or to decry this relationship, the author shows its long-lasting political and cultural effects on current feminist and postfeminist struggles and discourses. To that end, she focuses on one of the intense debates within feminist and postfeminist circles, the controversy over prostitution.

Published by: Fordham University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 1-4

CONTENTS

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pp. v-6

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

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pp. vii-10

I was able to begin writing this book thanks to the one-semester research leave granted me by the Langue et Littérature Françaises section of the Conseil National des Universités in 2009; I would like to express my gratitude to the members serving on the Conseil at that time. The Institut National des...

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1. PARABASIS

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pp. 1-10

“But after all, who is interested, today, in sexual difference, gender roles and hierarchies, or even sexualities, in the United States of America—or, to be more precise, in ‘theoretical America’? In her most recent work, at least the work she has been producing in the United States and for an American...

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2. QUEENS AND QUEERS: THE THEATER OF GENDER IN “AMERICA”

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pp. 11-82

A character has recently appeared on the French media scene.1 “She” calls herself “Wendy Delorme.” Wendy Delorme is a “woman of the stage” (as we would once have spoken of a “man of letters”) of a new type, at least in France. She describes herself as a performance.2 In her “one-woman shows,”...

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3. PARADOXES OF VISIBILITY IN / AND CONTEMPORARY IDENTITY POLITICS

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pp. 83-106

One can certainly agree that women have been made invisible in history, philosophy, and politics, as has already been forcefully argued by feminist theory. The Western division between public and private spheres has indeed been organized and conceptualized as a partition between the...

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4. THE ENDS OF AN IDIOM, OR SEXUAL DIFFERENCE IN TRANSLATION

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pp. 107-125

In a 1994 interview titled “Sexual Traffic,”1 Judith Butler questioned Gayle Rubin about the political and theoretical reasoning that had led her to drop the paradigm of gender in favor of a theory and politics of sex. Rubin responded as follows:...

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5. ROXANA’S LEGACY: FEMINISM AND CAPITALISM IN THE WEST

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pp. 126-166

Feminist theory was constituted almost immediately as a field of crisis and in crisis. For the crisis in feminist theory coincided almost exactly with its rise to prominence. In their introduction to Conflicts in Feminism, a volume published in 1990 that recapitulates ten years of theoretical and political...

NOTES

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pp. 167-210

WORKS CITED

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pp. 211-221

INDEX

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pp. 223-228


E-ISBN-13: 9780823253890
Print-ISBN-13: 9780823253852

Page Count: 256
Publication Year: 2013

Edition: Cloth
Series Title: Commonalities