Judith Butler

Maxine Elliot Professor
German, French
Academic Area: 
Literary Theory, Philosophical Fictions, Critical Theory, LGBTQI

Research Areas


Judith Butler is Maxine Elliot Professor in the Department of Comparative Literature and the Program of Critical Theory at the University of California, Berkeley. She served as Founding Director of the Critical Theory Program  and the International Consortium of Critical Theory Programs at UC Berkeley.  She received her Ph.D. in Philosophy from Yale University in 1984. She is the author of Subjects of Desire: Hegelian Reflections in Twentieth-Century France (1987), Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (1990), Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of “Sex” (1993), The Psychic Life of Power: Theories of Subjection (1997), Excitable Speech(1997), Antigone’s Claim: Kinship Between Life and Death(2000), Precarious Life: Powers of Violence and Mourning (2004); Undoing Gender (2004), Who Sings the Nation-State?: Language, Politics, Belonging (with Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak in 2008), Frames of War: When Is Life Grievable? (2009), and Is Critique Secular? (co-written with Talal Asad, Wendy Brown, and Saba Mahmood, 2009) and Sois Mon Corps (2011), co-authored with Catherine Malabou.  Her most recent books include: Parting Ways: Jewishness and the Critique of Zionism (2012), Dispossessions: The Performative in the Politicalco-authored with Athena Athanasiou (2013), Senses of the Subject(2015) and Notes Toward a Performative Theory of Assembly (2015).  She is the co-editor of Vulnerability in Resistance (Duke University Press, 2016). Her book, The Force of Non-Violence:An Ethico-Political Bind, will be published by Verso in 2020.  Her books have been translated in 27 languages.  Her future projects include a study on messianic animals in Kafka and Benjamin and an inquiry into philosophical fictions in Freud’s work.
She is also active in gender and sexual politics and human rights, anti-war politics, serves on the advisory board of Jewish Voice for Peace and their committee on Academic Freedom as well as the Advisory Council of The New University in Exile at the New School University and the board of the Center for Constitutional Rights. She was the chair of the Committee for Academic Freedom and Professional Responsibilities for the Modern Language Association (2013-15) and will serve as President of the MLA for 2020 (serving now as First Vice-President).  She has served on the board of the Institut fuer Sozialforschung in Frankfurt. She is affiliated  faculty at the Psychosocial Studies at Birkbeck College and  the Hannah Arendt Chair at the European Graduate School in Switzerland. She was the recipient of the Andrew Mellon Award for Distinguished Academic Achievement in the Humanities (2009-13).  She received the Adorno Prize from the City of Frankfurt (2012) in honor of her contributions to feminist and moral philosophy, the Brudner Prize from Yale University for lifetime achievement in gay and lesbian studies, and the Research Lecturer honor at UC Berkeley in 2005. Other fellowships include Guggenheim, Rockefeller, Ford, American Council of Learned Societies, and was selected as a Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton and at the College des Hautes Etudes in Paris. She has received honorary degrees from Université Bordeaux-III, Université Paris-VII, Grinnell College, McGill University, University of St. Andrews, Université de Fribourg in Switzerland, Universidad de Buenos Aires in Argentina, Universidad de Costa Rica, Université de Liége in Belgium, Universidad de Chili, Universidad de Guadalajara, and Belgrade University. In 2013, she was awarded the diploma of Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters from the French Cultural Ministry. In 2015 she was elected as a corresponding fellow of the British Academy and in 2019 was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.