Cultural Studies | Foucault, Post-Structuralism, Post-Colonialism
C701 | 29109 | Dodson

T 4:00-6:00 PM BH 235
Meets with HIST-H 680

This class is intended to provide graduate students with an
opportunity to examine, in some depth, the major works of the noted
historian and philosopher Michel Foucault.  Few historians of the
twentieth century have been as important as Foucault in informing our
understanding of, and methodological approaches to, questions of the
nature of power, identity formation, sexuality, social politics,
morality, and knowledge construction.  Yet, arguably, most historians,
sociologists, and critical theorists operate these days with a
relatively superficial knowledge of Foucaultís body of work, so far
have his core ideas have become infused in day-to-day academic
discourse and practice.  We will thus read most of Foucaultís key
texts in full, including books such as Madness and Civilization, The
Order of Things, and A History of Sexuality, as well as a number of
important essays, such as ďNietzsche, Genealogy, HistoryĒ.  We will
only occasionally bow down at the altar of Foucault, for
fundamentally, as a class, we will seek to engage critically with his
oeuvre, with a view to understanding evolutions in his own thought,
its contradictions and problems, and its continued usefulness (or
otherwise) in our own engagements with historical, social, and
cultural phenomena.  The last several weeks of the course will be
treated in a rather more open-ended fashion.  Again, as a class, we
may choose to use our time to read some of the key writings of other
structuralist and post-structuralist thinkers (the line between these
is rather blurry), such as Jacques Derrida or Roland Barthes, and
relate these to corresponding ideas as developed by Foucault.  We may
instead choose to read and evaluate some of the critiques formulated
of Foucaultís thought, most prominently that of Gilles Deleuze.
Lastly, we may well like to examine the methodological inheritances of
Foucault in a number of contemporary forums, but particularly in
post-colonial studies, where Foucaultís notions of power remain highly
influential (though, ironically, Foucault was himself never terribly
interested in the historical study of imperialism).

Your grade will be assigned on the basis of class participation, a
number of short writing assignments, and a final essay of
approximately 15 pages.