Judith Butler

Job title: 
Distinguished Professor, Graduate School; Former Maxine Elliot Professor
Comparative Literature

Judith Butler is a Distinguished Professor in the Graduate School and formerly the Maxine Elliot Chair in the Department of Comparative Literature and the Program of Critical Theory at the University of California, Berkeley. They received their Ph.D. in philosophy from Yale University in 1984. They are the author of several books: 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); Is Critique Secular? (co-written with Talal Asad, Wendy Brown and Saba Mahmood, 2009); Sois Mon Corps (2011), co-authored with Catherine Malabou; Parting Ways: Jewishness and the Critique of Zionism (2012); Dispossession: The Performative in the Political (2013), co-authored with Athena Athanasiou; Senses of the Subject and Notes Toward a Performative Theory of Assembly (2015); a co-edited volume, Vulnerability in Resistance (2015), with Duke University Press; The Force of Nonviolence (2020); and What World is This? A Pandemic Phenomenology (2022). Their books have been translated into more than 27 languages.

They served as a founding director with Martin Jay of the Critical Theory Program at UC Berkeley. They received a Mellon Foundation grant to found and developed the International Consortium of Critical Theory Programs (2016-20), where they serve now as co-chair of the board and editorial member of Critical Times. Earlier, they served as department chair of the Department of Rhetoric from 1998-2003 and 2006-07, and the acting chair of the Department of Gender and Women’s Studies from 2002-03. They also served as the chair of the board of the University of California Humanities Research Institute in Irvine. They were elected member of the executive council of the Modern Languages Association and chaired its Committee on Academic Freedom and Professional Responsibilities before serving as president of the organization in 2020. They are also affiliated faculty with the Psychosocial MA Program at Birkbeck College University of London and teach as the Hannah Arendt Chair at the European Graduate School in Sass Fee, Switzerland. They have taught as a distinguished visiting professor in philosophy at the New School University from 2020-22. They will be the intellectual in residence at the Centre Pompidou in Paris in 2024.

Butler has been active in several human rights organizations, including the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York and the advisory board of Jewish Voices for Peace. They were the recipient of the Andrew Mellon Award for Distinguished Academic Achievement in the Humanities (2009-13) and received the Adorno Prize from the City of Frankfurt (2012) in honor of their contributions to feminist and moral philosophy; the Brudner Prize from Yale University for lifetime achievement in gay and lesbian studies; and was named the Albertus Magnus Professorship from the city of Cologne, Germany in 2016. They are the past recipient of several fellowships including Guggenheim, Rockefeller, Ford, American Council of Learned Societies, and they were a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton and at Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris. They have given the Wellek Lectures at Irvine; the Carpenter Lectures at the University of Chicago; the Watts Lecture at the Nobel Museum in Stockholm; the Gauss Lectures at Princeton; the Messenger Lectures at Cornell; the Tanner Lectures at Yale University; and the annual Freud Lecture at the Freud Museum in Vienna. They have received 14 honorary degrees: Université Bordeaux-III, Université Paris-VII, Grinnell College, McGill University, University of St. Andrews, Université de Fribourg in Switzerland, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Liège Université, the Universidad de Costa Rica, Universidad de Guadalajara, Universidad de Chile, University of Belgrade, Universidad Veracruzana and the Autonomous University of Mexico. They were also appointed an honorary fellow at Birkbeck University of London. In 2014, they were awarded the diploma of Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters from the French Cultural Ministry and subsequently reappointed as commandant. They served as well on the Advisory Committee of the Institute fuer Sozialforschung in Frankfurt. In 2015, they were made an “honorary geographer” by the American Association of Geographers and elected as a corresponding fellow of the British Academy. They were also elected as a member of the American Philosophical Society in 2007 and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2019. In 2022, they received the Catalonia International Prize from the canton of Catalunya and the gold medal from the Circulo de Bellas Artes in Madrid.