J. Hillis Miller, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, IRVINE
The central point of a paper on performativity I gave some years ago at a conference in Oslo was to argue that an equivocation exists in this word and that this double meaning has caused some intellectual confusion.1 I call the two meanings of “performativity,” performativity sub one and performativity sub two. The confusion has led some scholars in performance studies, especially, perhaps, those in feminist performance studies, to accept an intellectual lineage that goes from J.L. Austin’s How to Do Things With Words (1980, first published
1 A much-extended version of this discussion, one that gives a fuller account of the complexity of Judith Butler’s thought, appears in chapter 7 of my recent For Derrida (New York: Fordham University Press, 2009). I have incorporated several paragraphs from this extended discussion later on in this essay. The discussion of George Eliot’s Daniel Deronda in this essay also appears in a somewhat different form in For Derrida. Used with permission by Fordham University Press. The original discussion of the two performativities was prepared for a conference at the University of Oslo and was subsequently published, in a form different from this essay, as “Performativity as Performance/Performativity as Speech Act: Derrida’s Special Theory of Performativity” (Miller 2007).