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The History of Sexuality, Vol. 1: An…

The History of Sexuality, Vol. 1: An Introduction (original 1976; edition 1990)

by Michel Foucault

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Title:The History of Sexuality, Vol. 1: An Introduction
Authors:Michel Foucault
Info:Vintage (1990), Paperback, 176 pages
Collections:Your library

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The History of Sexuality, Vol. 1: An Introduction by Michel Foucault (1976)

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French Philosophy -- 20th century, Sex, Sex customs -- History -- Collected works, Sexual ethics, Sexual ethics -- History, Sexual Behavior -- history, Michel Foucault, Sex customs, Sex customs -- History, Knowledge, Science and sexuality,
  CyberneticsCon | Nov 18, 2018 |
Interesting insofar as it is an explanation of Foucault's ideology and thought process. However, Foucault's analysis is more built on world-building than actual analysis of history (also Foucault goes about his argument more in case studies when it is more relevant to a universal theory).

If you find Foucault annoying (like I do sometimes) you will find this annoying. That said, the book delivers upon what it promises: Foucault's theory of sexuality. ( )
  MarchingBandMan | Apr 6, 2017 |
If you are at all invested in sexuality as an an academic subject or political issue, this book is essential. To say that is as much a given as it is to restate the basic premise of the book, which has been done time and time again. I will simply note that I have often blamed the policing of sexuality and the paranoia surrounding it on moralism and the centuries long reverberations of Christian dogma. Foucalt shows us that it is not the shadow of the Church that causes our constant discussion, admonition, and regulation of sexuality, but a complex system of institutions. The whole machinery of Western society tangles itself up with sexuality, and more importantly has created sexuality as we know it as a spoken and knowable phenomena. That is something that is truly fascinating and also troubling.

The basic premise and arguments of this work are nearly omnipresent in the academy, in the fields of the humanities, so any student of literary or cultural theory is given much of this book second hand, as I have been, but it is best to actually read it rather than pretend to know it through a professor's lecture notes. The ideas are compelling, and the book is remarkably readable for a seminal work of theory. ( )
1 vote poetontheone | Aug 20, 2015 |
I have always been a fan of Foucault. I even wrote my senior thesis on his theory of Panopticism in literature. Many of his thoughts on sexuality are just as fascinating as those about surveillance.

One of the things I admired about this work was how Foucault unflinchingly reverses the common belief that sexuality was repressed and states that the attention given to sexuality as early as the 17th century was actually the reason why so much discourse on the subject exists today. Rather than suppressing sexuality, it was brought into the light. Therefore, sexuality was never really repressed as so many have come to believe but rather put into the forefront of everyone’s thoughts.

He goes on to talk about power, and how sexuality has gradually become a more integral part of how power structures function. In the end, we are forced to come to the conclusion that sexuality is more a part of our lives than some would care to admit.

It was a fascinating read, albeit a little rough at times given Foucault’s habit of writing long and sometimes circular sentences that need to be read multiple times to find the major point. However, if you are willing to give it the time and brain power (which you honestly should) it brings to light some ideas that will change the way you thought of the past and how the power of sexuality can be seen today. ( )
  kell1732 | Jan 25, 2015 |
I read this as an undergrad, and probably got nothing out of it- nothing I can remember, anyway. Coming back to it now, I was pleasantly surprised. The bad news is that the most interesting stuff in the book is exactly *not* to do with sexuality, but that most of the book is, in fact, about the history of (the discourse of) sexuality. That history is kind of tiresome: in the nineteenth century, people came up with new and inventive ways to talk about sex. Rinse and repeat for hundreds of examples of people you've never heard of.
The interesting bits are more general and more abstract: in 'objective' and 'method,' Foucault comes as close as he ever did to actually defining what he means by power, with a nice discussion of how it relates to other political theories of sovereignty. In 'Right of Death' you get some tentative steps towards the concept of bio-politics or bio-power, which people are making such a big deal about these days, and, it must be said, it's pretty intriguing.

The major and unavoidable flaw, as you may already know, is that Foucault is deeply ambivalent when it comes to the function 'power' plays in his own thought. On the one hand, he wants it to be an almost universal analytic tool: power can be productive, power is used just as much by the resistance as it is by the oppressors and so on. On the other, power is something to be negotiated around and, if not avoided, at least confronted and undermined. It's just possible that the concept is meant to split the difference between these two hands, but if so, I'm not sure how- he certainly doesn't spell out a case for it here, or in anything else of his I've read. My preference would be to give up the 'let's subvert power' aspects of his work, take him as a descriptive theorist of modernity, and look for values elsewhere: which aspects of power need to be criticized and, if possible eliminated? Which should we support? The other option leads, both in my personal experience and in theory, to a pretty silly politics of opposing Them and The Man and The Law... ad infinitum.

A special plus, as always, is that Foucault is far and away the best writer of his generation, so you can read this in a day and get pretty much everything he says; and that, despite (because of?) this, his thought is just as complex and fruitful as Deleuze or Derrida or any of the Heideggerians. ( )
  stillatim | Dec 29, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Michel Foucaultprimary authorall editionscalculated
Auziņa, IrēnaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Blumbergs, IlmārsCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hurley, RobertTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Book description
Questo volume apre una serie di studi che non pretendono essere continui, né esaustivi; si tratterà di qualche sondaggio in un territorio complesso. I volumi successivi sono indicati solo a titolo provvisorio. Il mio sogno sarebbe un lavoro di lungo respiro, capace di correggersi man mano che si sviluppa, aperto alle reazioni che suscita, alle congiunture che gli toccherà d'incontrare, e forse ad ipotesi nuove. Lo vorrei un lavoro disperso e mutevole.
I lettori che si aspettassero di apprendere in che modo per secoli la gente ha fatto l'amore, o come le è stato vietato di farlo - problema serio, importante, difficile - rischiano di restare delusi. Non ho voluto fare una storia dei comportamenti sessuali nelle società occidentali, ma trattare un problema molto piú austero e circoscritto: in che modo questi comportamenti sono diventati oggetti di sapere? Come, cioè per quali vie e per quali ragioni, si è organizzato questo campo di conoscenza che, con una parola recente chiamiamo la "sessualità"? Quel che i lettori troveranno qui è la genesi di un sapere - un sapere che vorrei riafferrare alla radice, nelle istituzioni religiose, nelle forme pedagogiche, nelle pratiche mediche, nelle strutture familiari, là dove si è formato, ma anche negli effetti di coercizione che ha potuto avere sugl'individui, una volta che li aveva persuasi del compito di scoprire in se stessi la forza segreta e pericolosa di una "sessualità".
So bene che è imprudente spedire cosí, in esplorazione, un libro che fa incessantemente allusione a degli studi a venire. Ci sono grandi possibilità che appaia arbitrario e dogmatico. Le ipotesi rischiano di farvi figura di affermazioni perentorie, e le griglie di analisi proposte possono prendere l'aspetto di una nuova dottrina. Ne ho avuto d'altronde un esempio in Francia: dei critici, bruscamente convertiti ai benefici della lotta anti-repressiva, in cui non avevano finora manifestato grande ardore, mi hanno rimproverato di negare che la sessualità sia repressa. Cosa che, evidentemente, non ho mai preteso. Mi sono soltanto chiesto se, per decifrare i rapporti fra potere, sapere e sesso, si dovesse davvero centrare tutta l'analisi sulla nozione di repressione; e se non si rendesse meglio conto delle cose iscrivendo i divieti, le proibizioni, i rífiuti, le occultazioni in una strategia piú complessa, piú globale, non orientata verso la rimozione come obiettivo maggiore e principale.
I termini di "sesso" e di "sessualità" sono intensamente caricati e scottano. Mettono in ombra facilmente quelli che accompagnano. Per questo vorrei sottolineare che la sessualità è qui solo un esempio per un problema generale che inseguo - o che m'insegue - da ormai piú di quindici anni, e che guida d'altronde la maggior parte dei miei libri: in che modo, nelle società occidentali moderne, la produzione di discorsi cui si è attribuito (almeno per un certo periodo di tempo) un valore di verità è legata ai vari meccanismi ed istituzioni di potere?
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0679724699, Paperback)

The author turns his attention to sex and the reasons why we are driven constantly to analyze and discuss it. An iconoclastic explanation of modern sexual history.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:04 -0400)

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It is the year 5012 and the Milky Way galaxy is under attack. After the Universal War, a war that almost brought about the destruction of every known universe, the planets in the Milky Way banded together to create the Intergalactic Force - an elite fighting team sworn to protect and defend the galaxy. Only the brightest and most promising eleven-year-olds are accepted into the Intergalactic Force Academy and only the very best cadets reach the highest of their ranks and become...STAR FIGHTERS… (more)

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