Judith Butler's work has challenged and changed the frames of reference within which people speak, think, and live categories of identity. Her innovative and politically far-reaching insight that gender is performative and that identity is a scene of construction continues to exert a crucial impact in numerous critical-theoretical fields, including politics, philosophy, feminist and queer theory, literary and cultural studies. Behind Butler's radical theorizations of gender, sex, sexuality, power, and "race" lies the urgent normative inquiry into the differential way the human is produced and effaced within the field of contemporary power. The Judith Butler Reader is a collaborative effort by Sara Salih and Judith Butler to bring together writings that span Butler's impressive career as a critical philosopher, including selections from both well-known and lesser-known works. Salih's introduction emphasizes the political and ethical importance of Butler's ideas, and she supplies editorial material that will assist students in their readings of theories that stand at the forefront of contemporary theoretical and political debates.
Judith Butler is Maxine Elliot Professor in the Departments of Rhetoric and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Berkeley. She has published widely in the fields of continental philosophy, literary theory, feminist and queer theory, and cultural politics. Her books include Precarious Life: Powers of Mourning and Violence (Verso, 2003) and Undoing Gender (Routledge, 2004). Sara Salih is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Toronto. She is editor of The History of Mary Prince, a West Indian Slave (2000) and author of Judith Butler (2002).