A Performance of Instinct: Bechdel’s Experience as Criticism of Butler’s Gender Trouble Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/undergraduate_thesis_or_projects/f4752j208

Presented at the 2015 American Conversations Student Research Conference

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  • Judith Butler’s 1990 Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity shaped our current understandings of queer theory not only in the academic world, but all over America as the constitutional and social rights of the LGBT+ community are hotly debated. Butler’s theory claims that gender is performed through imitation of previous gender performance, creating a cultural feedback loop that denies an inner, expressive self-identity. In this essay, I challenge Butler’s ideas that erase an inner-self by exploring Bechdel’s autobiographical graphic novel Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic. Bechdel’s experiences indicate that gender is performed within a context of oppressive heterosexuality, but these performances become an inner-self which is instilled into the visual vocabulary of the graphic novel, played out in narrative themes, and ultimately dissected by Bechdel herself to find the interior meaning of both familial relationships and the relationship with one’s self. What Fun Home tells us about Butler’s Gender Trouble is a complex blend between the performance of socially imperative gender norms and the Foucaultian truth that “the soul is the prison of the body” which inscribes its characteristics onto outward appearance, compelling us to rethink our relationship with gender identity.
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  • description.provenance : Approved for entry into archive by Patricia Black(patricia.black@oregonstate.edu) on 2015-06-11T14:24:39Z (GMT) No. of bitstreams: 1 A Performance of Instinct(3).pdf: 108010 bytes, checksum: 54e9a03d741f5dc6dbece7ea35580b61 (MD5)
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  • description.provenance : Rejected by Patricia Black(patricia.black@oregonstate.edu), reason: Please insert a title page at the front of your document: including title, author, degree you are working towards, date of paper and advisors name. Thank you. on 2015-06-09T13:36:25Z (GMT)
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