Briefly, my aim is to examine the case of a society which has been loudly castigating itself for its hypocrisy for more than a century, which speaks verbosely of its own silence, takes great pains to relate in detail the things it does not say, denounces the powers it exercises, and promises to liberate itself from the very laws that have made it function.Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality, volume 1, page 8
In this lesson, we explore two central concepts that are key the the theorizations French philosopher Michel Foucault (1926–84) put forth in his writings: namely, the ideas of discourse and power. We begin with a lesson on one of the fundamental figures that have shaped Western understandings of Sexuality Studies by emphasizing how speaking and language are connected to power.
By the end of this module, you should be able to:
- Recognize the key concepts that Foucault put forth
- Define terms such as discourse, power, repressive hypothesis
- Understand how silence and repression have impacted the ways in which people think and talk about sex