Graduate Course Listings

16:988:510 Technologies and Poetics of Gender and Sexuality (3 credits)

  • Instructor: Ed Cohen
  • Course Delivery: T 56 0350 P - 0650
  • Current Course Description: At the time of his death from AIDS in 1984, Michel Foucault was completing the fourth volume of the History of Sexuality entitled Les Aveux de la Chair (Confessions of the Flesh).  This volume culminates Foucault’s reflections on the emergence of Western “sexuality” from the ways in which early Christian writers appropriated earlier Greek and Greco-Roman thinking, including the terms that Sigmund Freud popularized, “libido.”  In order to understand the context for Foucault’s final thoughts on sexuality—and especially the way he frames Christian sexuality as what I like to call a “mind-fuck”—we need to follow the development of his thinking through the lectures he gave at the Collège de France beginning in the early 1970s.  While it is not possible to read all of these texts in one semester, we will consider a number selectively, including Lessons on the Will to Know; Abnormal; Security, Territory, Population; The Subject and Truth; Hermeneutics of the Subject; The Government of the Self and Others, vols. 1 & 2; as well as a number of essays and interviews.   More than just a explication of these texts, we will consider the developments of Foucault’s thinking across the span of these lectures in order to both how he thinks and why he thinks thinking matters.

This course will focus on the technologies and poetics through which sexuality and gender are constructed, examining the ways in which cross-culturally and historically the gendered and sexed body has been socially and cultural will focus on the technologies and poetics through which sexuality and gender are constructed, examining the ways in which cross-culturally and historically the gendered and sexed body has been socially and culturally produced. Focuses particularly on how the construction of gender for men and women has been embedded in conceptions of cultures mapped through categories including race, class, ethnicity, age and sexuality