The Norm of Solidarity
promotes an exclusivity
at level of Identity
of every set of proposed actions
which might well cause disliked disruptions
to break out at the very border
that’s between the Self and its Other.
Published today at punctum books, A.W. Strouse reimagines Judith Butler in verse with Gender Trouble Couplets: Volume 1. This provocative book is available now in print and digital open access at punctumbooks.com
Judith Butler’s Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity radically claimed that the sexed body is a fallacy, discursively constructed by the performance of gender. A.W. Strouse has undertaken to rewrite Butler’s classic tome into an octosyllabic poem. Inspired by the rhyming encyclopedias of the Middle Ages, Strouse transforms each of Butler’s sentences into punchy medieval couplets.
This performative repetition of Chapter 1 of Butler’s classic treatise on gender, identity, and sexuality, “Subjects of Sex/Gender/Desire,” deconstructs Butler’s deconstruction. Relishing in the campiness of rhyme and meter—in the bodily pleasures of form—Strouse’s Gender Trouble Couplets, Volume 1 is an imitation for which there is no original. Butler’s Gender Trouble, perhaps, was poetry all along.
“In the tradition of the Revolutionary Cookbook (“Eggs Benedict Arnold”), teaching Structuralism through Hipster vs. Amish beards (“Is that beard ironic?”), and literary hostess gifts (“Lady Macbeth’s Soap”), comes this brilliant rhymed couplet version of Judith Butler’s Gender Trouble. Rarely has a poet applied his gifts to a more deserving subject. Strouse is the the Jeff Koons of queer theory, the Kim Kardashian of différance, the Lisa Frank of same-sex. In the grand tradition of rhymed pedagogical commentary — think Chaucer teaching Litel Louis how to use the Astrolabe — this funny and useful book will be an instant bestseller, a perfect gift for the nerd and hipster in your life, and the best Valentine cadeau for your secret queer crush whom you want but cannot quite name. Think, too, about this book in your theory class. Gender Trouble is venerated but also — and how unjustly! — feared. No longer! As anyone who teaches theory knows, explaining the specificity of massive conceptual formations is much easier when they are funny.”
— Anna Kłosowska, author of Queer Love in the Middle Ages and On Style: An Atelier
“Well Representing helps, it’s true / to win a Civil Right or two,” A.W. Strouse remixes, “but it oppresses us as well. / A man-made mold or iron shell.” In this new enchanting collection, Gender Trouble Couplets, Volume 1, Strouse takes on the first chapter of Judith Butler’s infamous Gender Trouble with verve, stitching together some of the most difficult, yet enduring critical theory in medieval couplets with a dash of humor. The result is incredibly moving and graceful and thought-provoking and, thank god, fun. Strouse queers rhythms so familiar to us — “Man is Incorporeality / and tool of Rationality” — to make us see how Butler’s text brings new meanings to our understanding of gender today, in the age post-digital and post-human. Or as Strouse prays, “The Female’s never just a mark / or attitude or added part.” I can’t wait to teach it!
— D. Gilson, author of CRUSH and I Will Say This Exactly One Time: Essays
A.W. Strouse teaches medieval literature at The New School, and has published a wide variety of creative works, including My Gay Middle Ages (punctum, 2015) and with Patty Barth, Transfer Queen (punctum, 2018).