Kenton Nelson, Service and Food

Michel Foucault: History of Sexuality

Instructor: Paige Sweet
The Barnard Center for Research on Women
3009 Broadway
New York, NY 10027

Few books in recent memory have so thoroughly transformed the way we think about the body, sexuality, and power as Michel Foucault’s The History of Sexuality. In this course, we will study the first volume of Foucault’s monumental work, as we seek to understand the meaning and implications of Foucault’s proposition that sex is a social construction. What does Foucauldian sexuality have to do with power in the modern world, and how does it relate to his concept of biopolitics (or the idea that modern states derive their force from controlling biological life)?

Attending to these core matters will allow us to consider a range of related questions: How have psychiatry, law, and literature contributed to the discursive production of the body? What is the “repressive hypothesis,” and why does Foucault seek to refute it in order to advance another theory of sexuality in its place? Though criticized for its gender-neutral concept of the body, Foucault’s work has also been seminal for feminists, gender theorists, and queer theory. What are the uses and limitations of his work for how we think about gender and sexuality? How does his account of the body undergird a biopolitics of the population, where life itself comes to be the subject and object of politics?

Course Schedule

Tuesday, 6:30-9:30pm
September 10 — October 01, 2019
4 weeks


Registration Open

SKU: SEPT19-NY-FOUCAULT Categories: ,