May 17, 2009

My new blog on troublemaking

I hope everyone has a great summer. Thanks for such a great semester! Check out the new blog that I just started: TROUBLE. It was partly inspired by some of our conversations in class.

April 14, 2009

Readings for 4.22

For next week's class, you are reading Undoing Gender and "Ethical Ambivalence."

Make sure that you give special attention to:

Beside Oneself
Gender Regulations
The Question of Social Transformation

The topic for next week is: Resisting Norms, Resisting and Resituating Ethics.

(How) does Butler do this?
Do you see a shift in her thinking from "Ethical Ambivalence" to Undoing Gender?
From Gender Trouble to Undoing Gender?
What are the ethical possibilities in Butler's work?
For Butler, what is the ethical?

April 9, 2009

Revised syllabus as of March 25

Here is the revised syllabus that I passed out on March 25. Note the mix-up on the dates. We will discuss Butler and Undoing Gender on April 22 and not April 15.

April 8, 2009

Class on 4.15

Please read the Alcaron for class next week. I have posted it on WebCT.

In addition to talking about that essay, I thought you all could discuss your own projects and how you are interested in using troublemaking in your final papers/projects. It could be a useful way to get feedback from each other.

Please email me a (roughly) 200 word description of the topic for your final project by next week.

March 25, 2009

Discussion Notes 3/25

- What do you mean by practice as opposed to theory?
Quotes: Ortega 68 theorizing w/out checking and questioning
-some theorizing feels like its actually making sense of the everyday but often not, doesn’t address impact. What are the ramifications/impact of actually trying to practice that which we theorize?
-Are there ways that talking is practice? Need more theorizing that comes from systems
example? How much this reading impacts teaching; K-12 education- non-teachers create the ways of teaching. Rather, need pragmatic, collaborative approach
-Is this partly a function of bad theory, rather than an attribute of theory generally? What is the definition of theory that we are relying on?
-99% of K12 educators have never heard of Audre Lorde
-everyday theorization-trying to understand and explain what we encounter – vs. theorization that gets labeled as expert and is therefore published/ shared/ communicated (whereas most everyday theorization is not shared)
-Limitations on what you can talk about in the K12 classroom, different types/degrees of gatekeeping
-possible distinction between bad theory that doesn’t adequately engage vs theory that is intentionally ignorant; tension within Segrest between theory and practice- memoir (flesh and blood practices), then history/ theory. How to do this better may start with thinking about this tension
-Meaning of “intersectional work”? Across queer/gender/race; Segrest 47, creating generative change contra gatekeeping; Segrest 34 “magnitude of the task” & Ortega 71 white feminists as gatekeepers. Inevitability of intersectional analysis- impossibility of ever considering a single identity factor in isolation, need to reject as “bad theory” work that fails to recognize the intersectionality of identity
Access: How do we get this work to move & connect? How does this work get sustained? How do we not become cynical/ stay resilient? Segrest talks about getting sick, moving from activism to education- coping. Isn’t education necessarily activist?
-Segrest quoting Walker: Take what you can use and let the rest rot; Lugones 81 not interested in assigning responsibility but in understanding the phenomenon
-Getting sick vs getting shot in your own home, being imprisoned; different kinds of danger in troublemaking; taking on risk as function of privilege (which is what makes it dangerous) & cycling through forms of activism/levels of commitment that are appropriate for her (Segrest) at that time.

March 24, 2009

Troublemaking and Academic Freedom

Here is an article that Sara F. found....

My assessment of the way in which some academics contrive to turn serial irresponsibility into a form of heroism under the banner of academic freedom has now been at once confirmed and challenged by events at the University of Ottawa, where the administration announced on Feb. 6 that it has “recommended to the Board of Governors the dismissal with cause of Professor Denis Rancourt from his faculty position.” Earlier, Rancourt, a tenured professor of physics, had been suspended from teaching and banned from campus. When he defied the ban he was taken away in handcuffs and charged with trespassing.

Continue reading "Troublemaking and Academic Freedom" »

An interesting event if you get this in time...

The Center for German & European Studies and the Dept. of History
cordially invite you to a presentation by the Early Modern historian
Johannes Dillinger. He will speak on the nexus between state-building
and a discourse on treason and terrorism.

Dr. Johannes Dillinger, Oxford Brookes University, England "Treason.
Arson. Poison: Traitors and Terrorists in the Early Modern Period"
Tuesday, March 24, 12:00-1:20 PM
1210 Heller Hall (History Dept. conference center)
(light refreshments)

Is terrorism a 20th-century phenomenon? People in the early modern
period recognized a variety of political crimes: "crimen laesae
majestatis," "perduellio," "breach of the Empire's peace" or simply
"treason." The legal definition of these crimes helped to outline the
ideal of the well-ordered state. On a more concrete level, the
emerging states of the early modern period had to face crimes that
resembled latter-day terrorism in many ways. The authorities as well
as the populace feared organized gangs of criminals in the pay of
rival political or religious leaders. These gangs were said to attack
the civilian population using arson and mass poisoning in order to
destabilize whole states. The fear of the terrorist "state destroyer"
was part and parcel of state building from its very beginning.

DR. JOHANNES DILLINGER is Senior Lecturer in Early Modern History at
Oxford Brookes University, England. He received a Ph.D. from the
University of Trier. His dissertation, a comparative study of 1300
witch-trials in two German principalities, won the Friedrich Spee
Award for outstanding contributions to the historiography of
witchcraft. He also won a prestigious Emmy Noether Grant of the
German Research Association.

March 7, 2009

Notes for Questions 2/18/09

Brad Stiffler
GWSS 8190
Notes on Questions

That’s Revolting: Queer Strategies for Resisting Assimilation

Being Outside
Some of the writing is reminiscent of Homi Bhabha’s notion that all changes come from the borders or margins of society. But, is this the same as an outside? What constitutes a border region? Butler theorizes inside/ outside as constantly shifting notions that are mutually constitutive. The various authors in That’s Revolting offer different notions of inside/outside that are complex and different. For instance, in the “Legalize Sodomy” essay, whether one is inside or outside prison is shifted by the legalization of certain sexual practices. However, the barrier is merely shifted, as other sexual practices are still criminalized. This is true both of the inside/ outside the law barrier and the power/pleasure/ “outsider” status border that is operative in such situations.

The Academy
The academy is another inside/ outside construct developed by various authors in the collection. It is restricted and codified discursive space. How does this relate to Butler’s notion of internal critique? She offers a critique from within feminism not to tear it down but to productively push its boundaries from within. Is this a useful construction of how to be a “freak” or “troublemaker” without the traditional trappings, such as being an “outside” voice? In this way, does this book valorize the “outsider” position? Does it do so uncritically? Furthermore, it is possible to look at some visions of outsider identity as necessitating a utopian impulse or organizing vision. Is there a way to insist on negation without these future-oriented ideas?

Troublemaking through (And the Trouble with) Affinity Politics
The question of social movement is central to That’s Revolting. When does organizing break down? Why? When do these movements start replicating the same hierarchical structures of dominant society? How did ACT-UP, never wanting to be an “insider” group, still end up as an institution? Can a real-deal, trouble-making queer really be part of an organization or group? (p.256). Assumed similarities/ goals need to be analyzed to organize without identity as central. Can it be a queer project and still be inclusive? This type of coalition politics are supposed to be hard, provisional (Bernice Reagan Johnson). However, we always organize with friends and people we already know. Are shared values a stumbling block for critique? Is there an element of anti-intellectualism in organizing that doesn’t allow constant, fracturing, internal critique? The focus on action in some groups can be seen to exile thinking in some instances.

Is “resisting assimilation” about how you position yourself in relation to a dominant? Can such a framework be considered a purely “negative” politics? If assimilation is conceived of as some form of conformity with dominant structures, then resisting it outright may be a way to consistently negate dominant identity. However, this notion of the outside as place constituted by those on the margins as a place of minority identity. Is taking part in such an identification a “positive” project that rearticulates dominant notions of identity and social organization?

Pride, Creating Public and Personal (Bodily?) Space, and Not Being a Victim
Does being a parent require a certain level of assimilation? Can you remain a queer when others constantly assume you are a normal, heterosexual parent with a child? p. 104. The discussion of these issue in That’s Revolting do not resolve the issue of whether assimilation is conferred by others or about self-definition. Do you have to resist the way others may simple identify you as a normal? Performativity is key here. How do you perform resistance? Who polices these performances of oppositional identity? These issues have been considered in the study of subcultures by British Cultural Studies theorists (Dick Hebdige Subculture: The Meaning of Style). Is it an issue of intent?

March 4, 2009

Discussion notes 3/4


The Pregnant Man/T he Octomom: Monstrous troubling names:

-Who are really the troublemakers?
-How does the heteronormative institution of motherhood cast judgment?
-Why are his sexual parts troubling to others?
-What is the media’s role in troubling these circumstances?
Is this gender trouble at its finest?

Nadya vs “Jon & Kate + 8” and the Duggers (18 kids):
-What is she troubling and they aren’t?
- Why are fertility and science in trouble?

Continue reading "Discussion notes 3/4" »

February 20, 2009

Revised Syllabus

Here is the Revised Syllabus that I passed out in class this past Wednesday.

February 19, 2009

How to Blog and Upload Files


1. Go to U Think.
2. Click on Login to UThink
3. Put in your user id (ex: puot0002) and password
4. You are now on the moveable type page. You should find a link to our class. Click on GWSS 8190 (not the URL but the other link). If you do not have a link to our class, please email me and I will add you as an author.
5. Click on “new entry” (it is on the top right hand side under posting).
6. Type in your entry. Scroll down to the bottom and hit save. You're done!

Continue reading "How to Blog and Upload Files" »

February 12, 2009

Some things to think about as you are reading...

To help facilitate our discussion of the readings and to keep it focused on the topic of troublemaking, I thought I would provide you with some guiding questions.

Continue reading "Some things to think about as you are reading..." »

January 30, 2009

Judith Butler Article on Obama

Here is the article by Judith Butler--Uncritical Exuberance?--that I mentioned in class on Wednesday.

It is all over the web. I found it on an interesting blog called Angry White Kid. I haven't looked at it that closely, but I think this blog offers another perspective on troublemaking...

January 26, 2009


Here is the Syllabus.

January 23, 2009

Undoing Gender and Gender Trouble are in!

If you don't already have Judith Butler's Gender Trouble and Undoing Gender they are now available at the bookstore.

I would like to add one more chapter from Gender Trouble for next week's class. Please read the first chapter (Subjects of Sex/Gender/Desire, 1-47).

Thanks and see you next week!