Judith Butler to Lecture at The New School
While it is common for high profile faculty members to take temporary professorships at other schools, these positions can be used to shop around for new employment
Celebrated philosopher, literary critic and political theorist Judith Butler will join the ranks of The New School faculty this spring. Butler will hold a visiting professorship at The New School for Social Research in the spring of 2011 while on sabbatical from her post at the University of California at Berkeley.
Butler is best known for her contributions in the fields of feminist theory and gender studies, but her recent work has shifted its focus to the effects of war and its acceptance in the political sphere. Butler is also know for holding views that many see as controversial. Recently, she has been accused of sympathizing with Hamas and Hezbollah in her insistence that they be viewed as leftist movements. “Understanding Hamas, Hezbollah as social movements that are progressive, that are on the Left, that are part of a global left, is extremely important,” Butler said at a 2006 teach-in at UC Berkeley.
Butler will teach a course entitled “On the Tragic and Its Limits” in conjunction with NSSR and Lang faculty member Simon Critchley. The course will investigate “the nature of the tragic and what is questionable in its constant invocation in the contemporary world,” according to an NSSR course listing. Butler will lead six sessions of the course, with Critchley leading the other eight.
“I’m extremely excited that Judith Butler will be teaching at The New School next semester,” said Terese Classen, a senior at Lang. Classen hopes that Butler will lead an open lecture for the entire New School community. “If she is going to be here and not do some sort of open lecture I would feel kind of cheated,” Classen said.The author of over a dozen publications, including works such as “Gender Trouble” (1990) and “Undoing Gender” (2004), Butler has been hailed as a leader in gender and sexuality studies. Butler’s theory of “gender performativity” remains at the core of many of her works, stating that gender is upheld by a constant repetition of defined roles, ultimately allowing their solidification in society.
A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Butler received a Ph.D from Yale University in 1984 and has taught at Wesleyan University, George Washington University, John Hopkins University and the European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland before joining UC Berkeley in 1993.
While it is common for high profile faculty members to take temporary professorhips at other schools, these positions can be used to shop around for new employment. Judging by the state of California’s dire financial situation, this may be a reason for Butler’s coming to New York. As of press time Butler was unable to be reached for comment.
Education is one of the victims of a drastic reduction in state funds due to the Golden State’s current $25.4 billion deficit.
The University of California system received 20 percent less state funding in 2009, prompting devastating cuts effecting class size, faculty and enrollment. It also faces a $21 billion gap in its pension and health programs, as reported in a November 17, 2010 New York Times article.
As a result, the UC system has forced some employees to take up to 10 percent pay cuts or take furloughs — a temporary leave of absence — as reported in an August 5, 2009 USA Today article.
Butler has agreed to teach at Columbia University in the spring semesters of 2012 and 2013, leaving her future at UC Berkeley in question.
“I think it’s a great thing she’s coming. It’s a great thing for us,” said Elaine Abelson, an associate professor of history at Lang and senior lecturer at NSSR. “It’s a great thing for political theory and philosophy.”