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Foucault: Discourse Theory

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Eden Graham

on 28 March 2014

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Transcript of Foucault: Discourse Theory

Foucault and Coriolanus
Foucault and Discipline/punishment
foucault and LPDL
Foucault: Discourse Theory
Conclusion and test
Main Ideas to Remember:

Panopticism = constant surveillance
Abnormal vs. normal
Discourse comes from knowledge, and knowledge from discourse
This results in power
The "beast" from LPDL is powerful because of discourse and knowledge
Foucault's Theory and Human Sciences
Knowledge and Power
Eden, Finleigh, Constantine, and Seth
Foucault and Sexuality
How Michel Foucault is pronounced
Neither a Structuralist or a Marxist
Discourse theory - similar to Eagleton, but not the same
"Knowledge is power"
Psychiatry and Crime
Before psychiatry, "a murder was simply a murder"
Caused focus to shift from the law to the character of criminal - people constantly looking for "criminal personalities"
Hence, psychiatry has led to suspicion and surveillance

Society insists there be "normality," which causes there to be "abnormality"
People who are criminals are "abnormal" and need treatment
Therefore there is an accepted discourse about normality
The "abnormal" individual put under constant surveillance
Binary opposites responsible for this
Major effect of panopticon: power is assumed and we are the bearers of our own imprisonment.
World is constantly monitored (panopticism)
Power distributed over large number of individuals
A panoptical state - world under constant surveillance of "abnormality" - is accepted because it
provides sense of belonging
Hence power is obeyed because it allows us to
"feel what we are"
works through discourse
discursive formations

- assumptions that make knowledge possible.
Discursive formations
- large groups of statements of a discourse
is a way to define and categorize people (which results in discourse)
Discourse produces knowledge & vice versa
Now know: knowledge is product of discourse
Knowledge arises when discourse has established credibility
then becomes
Foucault interested in the discursive formation that
holds discourse together
establishes truth
Main difference between Eagleton and Foucault
Examined in his book The Order of Things
Three major areas of human sciences:
linguistics, biology and economics
Developed from:
general grammar, natural history, analysis of wealth
(17th & 18th centuries)
In 17th/18th centuries -
God was central
Human knowledge limited, God's infinite
In 18th/19th centuries, God lost importance - predicted by Foucault
God is dead.
Meaning is constructed by men
Human Sciences have created
normal/abnormal discourse
Taboo about sex in Victorian era
Became scientific study subject =
form of power
Speaking about sex challenges discourse
Evident with approach to homosexuality
Sexual revolution1!
Foucault looked at how people's "bodies" were regulated
Torture vs. execution =
discipline vs punishment
Disciplinary power punishes and
Coriolanus and the Plebians
Foucault's power = exercised through social body
Plebians are social body
Social classes of Coriolanus categorized (positive/negative)
Those in positive categories seen as normal
Those in negative categories seen as insane
"Beast" gains power from those with knowledge about it
Discourse created from this knowledge and beliefs about God
total power
to the "beast"

No power/control to king
Full transcript