Antigone's Claim: Kinship Between Life and Death

Antigone's Claim: Kinship Between Life and Death

Paperback Wellek Library Lectures (Paperback)

By (author) Judith P. Butler

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  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Format: Paperback | 118 pages
  • Dimensions: 124mm x 224mm x 5mm | 204g
  • Publication date: 1 October 2002
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 0231118953
  • ISBN 13: 9780231118958
  • Edition statement: Revised ed.
  • Sales rank: 139,052

Product description

The celebrated author of Gender Trouble here redefines Antigone's legacy, recovering her revolutionary significance and liberating it for a progressive feminism and sexual politics. Butler's new interpretation does nothing less than reconceptualize the incest taboo in relation to kinship--and open up the concept of kinship to cultural change. Antigone, the renowned insurgent from Sophocles's Oedipus, has long been a feminist icon of defiance. But what has remained unclear is whether she escapes from the forms of power that she opposes. Antigone proves to be a more ambivalent figure for feminism than has been acknowledged, since the form of defiance she exemplifies also leads to her death. Butler argues that Antigone represents a form of feminist and sexual agency that is fraught with risk. Moreover, Antigone shows how the constraints of normative kinship unfairly decide what will and will not be a livable life. Butler explores the meaning of Antigone, wondering what forms of kinship might have allowed her to live. Along the way, she considers the works of such philosophers as Hegel, Lacan, and Irigaray. How, she asks, would psychoanalysis have been different if it had taken Antigone--the "postoedipal" subject--rather than Oedipus as its point of departure? If the incest taboo is reconceived so that it does not mandate heterosexuality as its solution, what forms of sexual alliance and new kinship might be acknowledged as a result? The book relates the courageous deeds of Antigone to the claims made by those whose relations are still not honored as those of proper kinship, showing how a culture of normative heterosexuality obstructs our capacity to see what sexual freedom and political agency could be.

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Author information

Judith Butler is Maxine Elliot Professor of Rhetoric and Comparative Literature at the University of California at Berkeley. Her many acclaimed critical works include Subjects of Desire, Gender Trouble, The Psychic Life of Power, and Bodies That Matter.

Review quote

Butler is interested in Antigone as a liminal figure between the family and the state, between life and death... but also as a figure, like all her kin, who represents the non-normative family, a set of kinship relations that seems to defy the standard model... one senses in Butler's interest... homage to those who have lived, or have tried to live, and to those who have died 'on the sexual margins.' -- Georgette Fleischer The Nation Antigone's Claim is a work of intricate and detailed analysis of enormously difficult material. Butler masterfully leads us to... a newfound theoretical activism within the political domain. -- Maria Cimitile Hypatia Brief but powerful and provocative nook. -- Shireen R. K. Patell, New York University Signs Winter 2005 Thought-provoking and politically provocative... Bulter joins the great philosophical tradition which grapples with the ancient tragedy of Sophocles. -- Ido Geiger Hagar: Studies in Culture Polity Identities Spring 2005

Table of contents

Antigone's ClaimUnwritten Laws, Aberrant TransmissionsPromiscuous Obedience