I had written a few gender critiques throughout my college career, but I had never done it with the guidance of a critical methodology. Before diving into this essay, I asked my instructor how this essay would be different from gender critiques I wrote earlier in my academic career. He suggested that I keep my focus on both Judith Butler’s specific ideas, rather than falling back into my own preconceived notions, and Hamlet, the text itself.
With this advice in mind, I started by gaining an understanding of Butler’s ideas. This came deceptively easy, considering that I was already aware of the ways society constructs gender. I then moved on to identifying moments in Hamlet where performative gender was pushed to its limits. Having already written about Hamlet’s grief process in my psychoanalytic critique, I wanted to explore Hamlet’s grieving process from a new angle.
I turned in an unfinished first draft for peer feedback. We discussed other moments from the text that I could include to support my claim. Throughout this class I have realized that my peers are a valuable resource when trying to come up with evidence for a claim. It is almost impossible to recall the entirety of a text in such a short period of time. Drawing from my peer’s knowledge of the text opens me up to new ideas.
My instructor commended the general idea I was working with, especially noting the way I used other characters in the text to bring attention to certain elements of Hamlet’s actions. However, he pointed out that I had a general misunderstanding of Butler along with an argument that was unconvincing at best. Rather than relying on the text or historical sources, I often assumed historical information based off of my own perceptions which led to an overall weak argument.
As I learned with my psychoanalytic critique, I started my revisions by revisiting my methodological perspective. I used some guidance from my instructor feedback to gain a more complete understanding of Butler. From here I went through my essay and changed my language to more accurately reflect Butler’s ideas. I also added more textual analysis so that I could rely on my own claims rather than vague and most likely inaccurate claims.
Check out my final draft here.