Notes Toward a Performative Theory of Assembly. By Judith Butler. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. 2015. 256 pp. Hardcover $27.95, e-book $15.37. Reviewed by Lee M. Price In 2011, when Judith Butler delivered the lecture series that would become Notes Toward a Performative Theory of Assembly, the speech act theorist joined other critical scholars attempting to work through the dark cloud of neoliberal fatigue settling over the humanities. âIdentitarian ontologiesâ had become only more entrenched in the age of terror (68), any potential alternatives seeming destined for âdiscursive appropriationâ by the insidious vocabulary of late biopolitical capitalism (14). Fatigued, but not yet resigned, Notes sets out âto rethink the speech actâ (18), not to discover something else to say or some other way to say it but instead to take seriously what Butler (1997) described more than a decade ago as âthe blindspot of speech, that which acts in excess of what is saidâ (11). Enter the assembly, public appearances of disproportionately injured bodies that express rather than speak the demand for shared conditions of livability. The assembly is simultaneously an ontology of vulnerability, an ethics of recognition, and a politics of persistence that puts Butlerâs abiding concerns
Philosophy and Rhetoric – Penn State University Press
Published: Aug 4, 2017
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