Judith Butler's work on gender, sexuality, identity, and the body has proved massively influential across a range of academic disciplines in the humanities and social sciences. Yet it is also notoriously difficult to access. This key book provides a comprehensive introduction to Butler's work, plus a critical examination of it and its precursors, both feminist (including Simone de Beauvoir, Monique Wittig, Julia Kristeva and Luce Irigaray), and non-feminist (including Erving Goffman, Michel Foucault, Jacques Lacan, and Jacques Derrida). The volume covers such topics as: gender as performance and performativity sociological notions of performance the materiality of the body and the role of biology power, identity and social regulation subjectivity, agency and feminist political practice. A comprehensive introduction to Butler's work, this book also covers melancholia and gender identity, hate speech, pornography and 'race', social change and transformation, and Butler's shifting relation to psychoanalysis. Clearly laid out to cover key themes for a student audience, this text will be an essential read for undergraduates in the fields of gender, psychoanalysis and sociology.