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
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.
Subjects: Language & Literature, Sociology
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