Cultural Studies | Reading the Text: Foucault's History of Sexuality Vol. 1
C701 | 11675 | Simons
Many of the disciplines in the humanities, including rhetorical
analysis and criticism, rely on honed skills of close readings of a
variety of texts. This seminar aims to develop students’ skills of
close reading by focusing on a book which is frequently returned to in
the humanities and about which a good deal of secondary commentary has
been written, some of which will also be studied in the seminar. The
text is Michel Foucault’s History of Sexuality, Vol. 1. The text will
be read with attention to style and poetics as well as the logic of
argument, form as well as content. The text will also be considered in
its context, understood as a rhetorical intervention in an
intellectual dialogue. In assessments, students will practice
explication, historical contextualization, stylistic analysis and
A semester long study of this text will enable us to consider some or
all of the following themes addressed by this deceptively short book:
power (as productive) and in relation to liberation and resistance;
biopower; power as the constitution of subjects; particular practices
and techniques of biopwer – confession, division, surveillance;
sexuality – it’s discursive construction through scientific-medical
discourses; ab/normal sexuality; queer studies and gay activism.
Assignments and Grading
There are 2 options for assignments and grading for this seminar.
Option A is aimed at those of you who intend to focus your work in
this seminar on a final research paper, with the aim of working it up
into a conference paper and/or publishable journal article. Option B
is for those of you who prefer a wider variety of assignments.
1) Seminar leadership and participation. 10%.
2) Close reading exercise: 1,000 words. 10%
3) Paper proposal: 10%
4) Literature review essay: 2,000 words. 15%.
5) Paper presentation. 15%
6) Seminar paper: approx. 6-7,000 words, an essay on a significant
interpretative issue related to the text. 40%
1) Seminar leadership and participation. 20%.
2) Close reading exercises: 1,000 words each. 10% each. 20%
3) Mid-semester position paper: 2-3,000 words. 20%
4) Book review: 20%
5) Literature review essay: 2,000 words. 20%