History 590, Winter 2014
Foucault and History
In this seminar we will ask about the usefulness of Foucault for thinking about history and thinking historically. We will begin with the question of method, the politics and ethics of critique, and an overview of the relationship among power, knowledge and subjectivity in the context of the Western modernity that undergirds Foucault’s writings. Much of our discussion will focus on a set of the lectures he gave on war, race, security, and biopolitics in the 1970s. Alongside Foucault, we will also read other works that help to contextualize and so engage some of his broader claims about power, subjectivity, and the conduct of others. These include essays on network power (Deleuze), computational technologies (Galloway and Thacker), and counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency in the global “war on terror” (Hardt and Negri). We will end with a consideration of the third volume of Hardt and Negri’s work on empire, Commonwealth as a way of bringing our discussion of Foucault to where it has always begun and returned: the present moment, our twenty first century.
Period 1 - History grad students only. Period 2 - open to non-History grad students.