E. Patrick Johnson is Carlos Montezuma Professor of Performance Studies and African American Studies at Northwestern University, the coeditor of
C. Riley Snorton places Samuel R. Delany’s novel, Triton, in dialogue with contemporary debates in black, feminist, and trans scholarship to examine the utilities of heterotopias for making sense of racial and gender difference. As his reading of the novel bears out, heterotopias are not necessarily liberatory spaces, just as plurality and difference are not “good” in and of themselves. Thus, Snorton proposes that the trouble with gender on Triton in the twenty-second century and now is not that gender is unable to proliferate; rather, it is that the techniques for normativizing gender so often shape one’s phenomenological experience of it. In this sense, both Delany’s novel and Butler’s oft-cited passage on drag in Gender Trouble suffer from similar forms of mischaracterization, which equate gender electivity and performativity with freedom from (gender) identity.