"The scholarship of the book is a treat, as is the care with which Berger attends to distinctions or crafts a sentence."-E.S. Burt, University of California, IrvineVom Verlag:
At a time when gender and queer theories appear to its American proponents to have exhausted themselves, they are hailed in France as something "new". Yet, more than any area of late 20th-century thinking, gender theory and its avatars have been to a large extent a Franco-American invention. A Franco-American scholar, the author uses this particular temporal and intellectual juncture to look again at a certain history and theory of "gender" and "sexuality." The book is divided into three parts. The first part deals with one of the thorniest conundrums of late 20th-century feminist theory and politics, namely, the question of the "veil". It includes Berger's by now classical essay on the "Islamic Veil" and the politics of specularity. The second part focuses on the intersection between gender, language and national politics and proposes original rereadings of Benedict Anderson's studies of the relationship between languages and nations. The last and most important part looks at gender and queer theories through lenses that are simultaneously retrospective and anticipatory, "American" and "French", to try and account for the terms of both their "exhaustion" and their "currency" on one side and the other of the Atlantic. In this last section, the book offers important theoretical and historical insights into what the author sees as two specifically "American" features of these theories since their earliest formulations: on the one hand, an emphasis on the theatricality of gender, [from John Money's early emphasis on gender as "role playing" to Judith Butler's appropriation of Esther Newton's work on drag queens]; on the other, the adoption from the start of a "queer" perspective on gender issues.
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