History | Foucault, Post-Structuralism, Post-Colonialism
H680 | 28353 | Dodson


A portion of the above class reserved for majors
Above class open to graduates only
Above class meets with CULS-C701

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.