High Priestess of Trouble, Judith Butler, on “Critique”:

From “Critique, Dissent, Disciplinarity” (2009)

“So it seems that there are now two dimensions of this notion of critique, and they are interrelated: on the one hand, it is a way of refusing subordination to an established authority; on the other hand, it is an obligation to produce or elaborate a self. The first function is negative, a refusal; but the second function is invention. And it seems to follow that the refusal opens the space for this invention or that, in some way, refusal, disobedience, is linked to self-invention.” (2009, p. 788)

“Could it not be that critique is that revolution at the level of procedure without which we cannot secure rights of dissent and process of legitimation?” (2009, p. 795)

As someone who is hailed as a:

-Critical Cultural Scholar

-Critical Rhetorician

-Critical Media Studies Scholar

-(all around critical thinker)

I thought it important to trouble this word that is always at risk of being reappropriated into a hollow, empty term that is utilized without real consideration as to what it means. I really like the idea of becoming and invention that Butler suggests. So often Critical ____ (anythings, really) are accused of whining about stuff without offering solutions; many of us are, after all, deconstructionists. But through our deconstruction paves the way for re/construction. That’s the kind of critical inquiry I practice. That’s the kind of critical scholarship that manifests itself as a tool for social change (another un-packable buzz-phrase, to be sure)….

There’s more to say on this, but I have to go drool over more Butler for class tomorrow.



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