The History of Sexuality: An Introduction, Volume 1
Study Questions and Essay Topics
What is the "repressive hypothesis"? What sort of reading does it give to history? What are the biases inherent in that reading?
What points does Foucault share with the repressive hypothesis? Why and how does he diverge from it?
Why does Foucault see the confession as a central characteristic of the modern West? What evidence does he use to support this claim? What facts might he be ignoring that would contradict this claim? Do you agree with this characterization?
What is Foucault's genealogical method? How does he use it in this book? What are its strengths and weaknesses? Do you agree with the conclusions he draws from it?
What are the main features of the "juridico-discursive" conception of power? What about this conception does Foucault disagree with?
What is distinctive about Foucault's conception of power? How does he use it to overturn older notions about the history of sexuality (e.g. the repressive hypothesis)?
What is the distinction between the "deployment of sexuality" and the "deployment of alliance"? How have the two been related, and how have they evolved together since the seventeenth century?
What reading does Foucault give to the history of sexuality? How would you evaluate it? Does it fit the historical facts? Does it interpret them in a reasonable way?
What is "power over life"? Do you agree with Foucault that this is how power manifests itself today? Can you feel its influence in your own life?
What does it means to say that "sex" and "sexuality" are social constructs? What ideas does this assertion contradict?
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