Earth, Milky Way: punctum books, 2019. 104 pages. ISBN-13: 978-1-950192-51-9. DOI: 10.21983/P3.0266.1.00. OPEN-ACCESS e-book and $19.00 in print: paperbound/5 X 8 in.

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

Gender Trouble Couplets: Volume 1


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.

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Excerpt from Gender Trouble Couplets:


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