Panopticism Notes - Panopticism Locate specific instances...

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Panopticism Locate specific instances in the film where Foucault's theory of panopticism plays an influential role. Think about how particular characters relate to Foucault's essay. Describe the roles that different characters play. While writing his essay, Foucault most likely had types of people in mind: Who performs the surveillance? Who is being watched? Who, therefore, possesses the power and authority? What do they do with that power and authority? Think about the power structures in the film. Who has power? Why? How did they get it? How did they keep it? Who wants power? How do they plan to get it? Do they get it? What will they do with it if they have it? Summary Foucault begins with a description of measures to be taken against the plague in the seventeenth century: partitioning of space and closing off houses, constant inspection and registration. Processes of quarantine and purification operate. The plague is met by order. Lepers were also separated from society, but the aim behind this was to create a pure community. The plague measures aim at a disciplined community. The plague stands as an image against which the idea of discipline was created. The existence of a whole set of techniques and institutions for measuring and supervising abnormal beings brings into play the disciplinary mechanisms created by the fear of the plague. All modern mechanisms for controlling abnormal individuals derive from these. Foucault then discusses Jeremy Bentham's Panopticon, a building with a tower at the center from which it is possible to see each cell in which a prisoner or schoolboy is incarcerated. Visibility is a trap. Each individual is seen but cannot communicate with the warders or other prisoners. The crowd is abolished. The panopticon induces a sense of permanent visibility that ensures the functioning of power. Bentham decreed that power should be visible yet unverifiable. The prisoner can always see the tower but never knows from where he is being observed. The possibility that the panopticon is based on the royal menagerie at Versailles is raised. The
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This note was uploaded on 05/02/2008 for the course ENG 111 taught by Professor Anderson during the Fall '07 term at University of Washington.

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Panopticism Notes - Panopticism Locate specific instances...

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