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Reading: The Discourse of the Scalpel and the Limbo of Non-identity: Doing Justice to Herculine Barbin

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The Discourse of the Scalpel and the Limbo of Non-identity: Doing Justice to Herculine Barbin

Author:

Aurora Laybourn-Candlish

University of Oregon, US
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Abstract

In this essay I will make a comparative analysis of Butlers reading of Herculin Barbin in Gender Trouble and David Reimer in Undoing Gender. My reading of Undoing Gender will illustrate reflective moments in which Butler herself describes spaces outside of intelligibility. First, my analysis will consist of in reading Butlers earlier work against her more recent writings on gender. Utilizing the same critical lens that Butler incorporated to compare Foucault’s later work against his earlier writing will bring to the fore important tensions in Bulter’s gender theory and her relationship with Foucault. Second, I will describe the discourse of the scalpel that is found in the narratives of both Barbin and David. I find that Barbin’s framework foreshadows the discourse of the scalpel that Judith Bulter identifies within the life story of David Reimer. Then I will give an account of the discourse of the scalpel as a form of biopower. I will supplement my analysis of Bulter with Jemima Repo’s essay, Herculine Barbin and the Omission of Biopolitics from Judith Butler’s Gender Genealogy. Taken together my analysis will elucidate a lineage between Herculine Barbin and David Reimer that calls for a reexamination of Butler’s relationship with Foucault.

How to Cite: Laybourn-Candlish, A., 2014. The Discourse of the Scalpel and the Limbo of Non-identity: Doing Justice to Herculine Barbin. International Journal of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities, 6(2), pp.17 (128–135). DOI: http://doi.org/10.7710/2155-4838.1109
Published on 04 Jun 2014.
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