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Collaging Discourse

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Margaret Mount

on 19 May 2011

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Transcript of Collaging Discourse

Queer Theory Collaging Discourse: A Visual Exploration of Michel Foucault’s
"The History of Sexuality: An Introduction, Vol. 1" Margaret Mount
Washington State University "... we must conceive of discourse as a series of discontinuous segments whose tactical function is neither uniform or stable. To be precise, we must not imagine a world of discourse divided between accepted discourse and excluded discourse, or between the dominant discourse and the dominated one; but as a multiplicity of discursive elements that come into play in various strategies. It is the distribution that we must reconstruct, with the things said and those concealed, the enunciations required and those forbidden, that it comprises..." (Foucault, M., 1978, p. 100). Discourse Research Question Queer theory is the action of going to those places of not knowing, “the limit of thought- where thought stops, what it cannot bear to know, what it must shut out to think as it does” (Britzman, D., p. 156). Bricolage The piecing together different representations, methods, theories, etc.. much like the piecing together of a collage (Denzin, N. K.. & Lincoln, Y. S., 2005, p. 4) Bricoleur: Person who engages
in bricolage. Interpretive bricoleur who “understands that research is an interpretive process” influenced by experience, gender, class, and many other epistemological factors (Denzin, N. K. & Lincoln, Y. S., 2005, p. 6). The political bricoleur is concerned with the "social responsibility" and the "transformative potential" of research (Denzin, N. K., & Lincoln, Y.S., 2005, p. 6). The theoretical bricoleur “reads widely and uses many interpretive paradigms” such as “feminism, Marxism, cultural studies, constructivism, queer theory” (Denzin, N. K., & Lincoln, Y. S., 2005, p. 6). Collage inquiry goes where logical thinking cannot, where thought stops. It calls for an intuitive and deeper understanding that can help researchers and audiences alike look at affect and associations. Arts-based inquiry that takes a visual form offers the possibility of exploring “dialogue between words and images, between the texts of imagery, and the imagery of texts, creating possibilities for scholarly work, and moving beyond the walls of the academy and into public spaces” (Knowles, J. G. & Luciani, T. C., 2007, p. xiii). Theoretical
Framework The Repressive Hypothesis A widely held belief is that during the Victorian period, discourse regarding sexuality was repressed. Foucault disagrees. Instead, Foucault describes "a multiplicity of discourses produced by a whole series of mechanisms operating in different institutions (1978, p. 33). Foucault identified four strategic unities around which discourse about sexuality centered: Female sexuality and
the "hysterization of women's bodies" 1978, p. 104) The heteronormative procreative couple and the determination of acceptable venues for fertility The sexuality education
of children The psychiatrization
of perverse pleasure The discourses surrounding these four unities
were neither true not false. For Foucault, sexuality is “an immense apparatus for producing truth” (1978, p. 56). There is an underlying sense that if individuals come to understand their sexuality, they will come to truth: “the West has placed a never-ending demand for truth: it is up to us to extract the truth of sex, since this truth is beyond its grasp; it is up to sex to tell us our truth, since sex is what holds it in darkness” (Foucault, M., 1978, p. 77). Does sexuality really hold such power? Truth Power reaches “the most tenuous and individual modes of behavior,” including our actions, our attitudes, and our pleasures (Foucault, M., 1978, p. 11). Power does so by disciplining and controlling the body itself. Sexuality is a tool through which power permeates into the deepest interstices of the human body and mind. Power Instead of taking life, through the technology of sexuality this new form of power gives, regulates, and controls life. Foucault calls this bio-power. By infusing itself onto the human body and by becoming an accepted part of it, bio-power is able to determine an individual body’s health, fertility, procreation, and even pleasure. Bio-power There is also a spiraling of power that develops during this confession. The professional begins with the power and backing of credentials and the institution but as the individual confessioner speaks, this speaking and its discourse gives hir power as well (Foucault, M., 1978, p. 45). Therefore, it is by speaking that individuals come to experience themselves and their sexuality, subsequently creating their own “internal regime of power” that produces effects of truth (Foucault, M., 1984, pp. 54-55, p. 60). A spiraling of pleasure and power... Arts-based
inquiry Foucault explains that sexuality was first problematized in relation to white European bourgeois sexuality, specifically the sexuality of women and children. For Foucault, it was important for the bourgeoisie to manage their own procreation before it became important to create a productive and efficient proletariat and working class.

The focus was placed on the male child and his mother for it was through the child that “a healthy line of descent” was maintained (Foucault, M., 1978, p. 121). While never explicitly stated by Foucault, the healthy and vigorous bourgeois body was created through it’s implicit contrast to the racialized colonial body (Stoler, A. L., 1995, p. 7). In this way, discourses that focused on the moral, sexual health, and purity of the bourgeois child were also indirectly focusing on the racial purity of the white bourgeois class. Hence, the discourse of sexuality is always linked to race. A white saviour:
the bourgeois child Why the gay couple from
"Modern Family?" Lisa Duggan explains that one of the areas of focus of the mainstream gay and lesbian movement is gay marriage. In the process, they have alienated many queers that do not claim a heteronormative goal as their own. Duggan names this an example of the “new homonormativity," a politics that does not contest dominant heteronormative assumptions and institutions, but upholds and sustains them, while promising the possibility of a demobilized gay constituency and a privatized, depoliticized gay culture anchored in domesticity and consumption” (Duggan, L., 2003, p. 50). This is my small answer to the "Yellow Wallpaper," a novella by Charlotte Perkins Gilman that clearly demonstrates how women have been labelled hysterical and subsequently medicalized and the subject of a multiplicity of discourses. In this collage, I aim for a RiottGrrl aesthetic, an aesthetic that creates a feminist response with a punk influence who forged a space for those that did not feel that the older predominately white middle class voice was their own. BITCH Reverse Discourse For Foucault, there is always an interplay between power and resistance. Discourse is both an instrument and a hindrance in the creation of dominant discourse. Reverse discourse is an example of the resistance that always accompanies power. As Foucault explains, in reverse discourse "homosexuality began to speak in its own behalf, to demand that its legitimacy or "naturality" be acknowledged" (1978, p. 101). Collage Inquiry Found materials and consumer scraps can also be considered part of the discourse that Michel Foucault describes. The discovery and use of such visual discourse can be considered a visual interpretation of Foucault’s archaeological method, in which he would spend time in archives going through such historically non-academic and often forgotten documents as the case notes of psychiatric patients, criminals, and other discarded members of society. Foucault's Archaeological Method This is the end of the presentation but feel free to jump around. The arrows may guide you or perhaps you will create your own path. Comments are also welcome. This is a work in progress that will hopefully turn into a little physical zine. I love the internet, but I love objects that you can hold in your hands even more. If you want a copy of my not yet published limited edition zine, let me know in the comments section and I will try to accomodate. This is part of my final project for my arts-based educational research class. I created a path to help guide you through this presentation, but that does not prohibit creating your own path. In fact, I welcome it.

I have been reading Michel Foucault's "The History of Sexuality: An Introduction, Vol. 1" off and on for two years now. I have read it front to back twice; but have also diverged from the perscribed direction of page numbers many more times than that.
As a former sexuality educator, current graduate student, and queer theory learner, I felt that this text warranted close attention. As I learn most through visual processing, I have made a series of collages that I am sharing with you. Enjoy, and feel free to comment. This is only a small portion of what is said in this volume. Ideally, I will keep adding more. Your suggestions will guide me in this process.

Thank you. A Short Introduction Amongst all of this discourse, it is important to remember the role of silence; which can be just as if not more powerful than speech. The Spoken and Unspoken My attempt at creating a collage of silence turned into one of speech acts, the actions that accompany speech. Queer theory as a method is an active process that demands going to those places “that haunt one’s responses, anxieties, and categorical imperatives” (Britzman, D., 1995, p. 51). References

Britzman, D. (1995). "Is there a queer pedagogy? Or, stop reading straight." Educational Theory, 45(2), 151-165.

Denzin, N. K. & Lincoln, Y. S. (2005). "Introduction: The discipline of qualitative research" in Denzin, N. K. & Lincoln, Y. S. (Eds.) "The SAGE handbook of qualitative research" (4th ed, pp. 1-32). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.

Duggan, L. (2003). "The Twilight of equality? Neoliberalism, cultural politics, and the attack on democracy." Boston, Mass: Beacon Press.

Foucault, M. (1978). "History of sexuality: An introduction, Vol. 1," Vintage Books Edition (Hurley, R., Trans.). New York: Vintage Books.

Knowles, J. G., & Luciani, T. C. (2007). "The art of imagining the place of the visual arts in qualitative inquiry: An introduction" in Knowles, J. G., Luciani, T. C., Cole, A. L., & Nielsen, L. (Eds.) "The Art of Visual Inquiry" (pp. ix-xvi). Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada: Backalong Books.

Stoler, A. L. (1995). "Race and the education of desire: Foucault’s history of sexuality and the colonial order of things." Durham and London: Duke University Press. What can the method of collage inquiry tell me about "The History of Sexuality: An Introduction, Vol. 1." and its contributions to queer theory ? Research Hope To make "The History of Sexuality: An Introduction, Vol. 1" more accessible to academics and non-academics alike.
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