Rethinking what it means to write: A contribution from Judith Butler


  • Bronwyn James University of Sydney, Australia


Performativity, subjectivity, Judith Butler, writing, research Student Writing


Judith Butler’s performativity work is perhaps more comfortably situated within the areas of philosophy, feminist post structuralism and queer theory than it is within the more influential theoretical framings that inform Academic Language and Learning (ALL) practice and research in Australia. In this paper, I discuss the ways in which particular aspects of Judith Butler’s performativity might be brought into play to offer a theorised explanation of the complex and the fleeting aspects of student writing and drafting. To do this, I draw on data from a study of research student writing. Butler’s performativity work, that is, her work on the role that language plays in the processes of subject formation provokes a reconsideration of some of the possible unanticipated effects of academic language and learning practices, specifically text analysis. It goes some way towards theorising why it might appear that some students ‘just don’t get it!’




How to Cite

James, B. (2014). Rethinking what it means to write: A contribution from Judith Butler. Journal of Academic Language and Learning, 8(1), A14-A23. Retrieved from