2012-13 Catalog

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Offering Description

Freedom: Power

Spring 2013 quarter

Bill Arney sociology
Preparatory for studies or careers in
None specified.

What is power and how should one live in it? Early in his career, Michel Foucault (1926-1984) described power's various practices of division: the separation of the sane from the insane, the pathological from the normal, the law-abiding citizen from the criminal. Later he described modern structures of power, a micro-physics of power, that induce people to become self managers: "He who is subjected to a field of visibility, and who knows it, assumes responsibility for the constraints of power; he makes them play spontaneously upon himself; he inscribes in himself the power relation in which he simultaneously plays both roles; he becomes the principle of his own subjection." Foucault even argued that the self and the soul are creations of power. Near the end of his life, he articulated a new project: "seeking to give new impetus, as far and wide as possible, to the undefined work of freedom." He re-imagined the possibility of self-fashioning, of the care of the self, of an art of living.

We'll follow Foucault's course and see where it leads us.

Readings by Foucault will include Discipline and Punish , the three volumes of The History of Sexuality , This Is Not a Pipe , Fearless Speech , and Herculine Barbin (Being the Recently Discovered Memoirs of a French Hermaphrodite) .

Students, alone or in groups, will complete independent work that will be more admirable than convincing. Contemplative practices, of course.

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