Foucault - Notes for Part one - We �Other Victorians�

Foucault Notes - 20093_engl_480_32754 Modern Literary Criticism Theory and Practice The History of Sexuality An Introduction(New York Vintage Books

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20093_engl_480_32754: Modern Literary Criticism: Theory and Practice The History of Sexuality: An Introduction . (New York: Vintage Books, 1990) Michel Foucault (trans. Robert Hurley) Focus of the Book The History of Sexuality: An Introduction is the first of a promised (but not completed) six- volume study of discourses on sexuality. In this volume, Foucault develops an "analytics of power"—the conceptual instruments that make possible the analysis of sex in terms of power. In addition, Foucault argues that power operates not through the repression of sex, but through the discursive production of sexuality and subjects, emphasizing that the power mechanisms of sexuality are socially constructed, unstable, and historically situated. Part one: We ‘Other Victorians’ Summary Foucault argues that we generally read the history of sexuality since the 18th century in terms of the repressive hypothesis since the rise of the bourgeoisie, purely pleasurable activities has been frowned upon because they were not productive, thus sex was a private, practical thing only married couples did. Sex outside these confines is not simply prohibited, but repressed . Not simply an effort to prevent extra-marital sex, but also an effort to make it unspeakable and unthinkable. Discourse on sexuality as well as sex is confined to marriage. Outlets of confession, where sexual feelings could be released safely: prostitution and psychiatry . Steven Marcus labels those who turned to psychiatrists or prostitutes in the Victorian era as the other Victorians . These ‘other Victorians’ created their own space for discourse on sexuality that freed them from the confines of conventional morality. The 20th century is no different, according to the repressive hypothesis. Freud made open and frank discussions of sexuality possible, but discourse still confined to the academic and confessional realm of psychiatry. RH includes the idea that we cannot free ourselves from this repression simply by means of theory: we must learn to be more open about our sexuality, to talk about it , to enjoy it.
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Discourse on sexuality, seen as a revolt against a repressive system, becomes a matter of political liberation rather than intellectual analysis. Foucault suggests the repressive hypothesis is essentially an attempt to give
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This note was uploaded on 02/26/2010 for the course ENGL 463 at USC.

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Foucault Notes - 20093_engl_480_32754 Modern Literary Criticism Theory and Practice The History of Sexuality An Introduction(New York Vintage Books

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