Since its publication in 1990, Gender Trouble has become one of the key works of contemporary feminist theory, and an essential work for anyone interested in the study of gender, queer theory, or the politics of sexuality in culture. As Judith Butler writes in the major essay that stands as preface to the new edition, one point of Gender Trouble was 'not to prescribe a new gendered way of life, but to open of the field of possibility for gender.' Widely taught, and widely debated, Gender Trouble continues to offer a powerful critique of heteronormativity and of the function of gender in the modern world.
Judith Butler's new preface situates Gender Trouble within the past decade of work on gender, and counters some common misconceptions about the book and its aims.
The abinding gendered self will then be shown to be structured by repeated acts that seek to approximate the ideal of a substantial ground of identity, but which, in their occasional discontinuity, reveal the temporal and contingent groundlessness of this "ground". The possibilities of gender transformation are to be found precisely in the arbitrary relation between such acts, in the possibility of a failure to repeat, a de-formity, or a parodic repetition that exposes the phantasmatic effect of abiding identity as a politically tenuous construction.