Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison
Edition used: Vintage Books
In this lecture entitled “From Spectacle to Surveillance,” Christina Hendricks discusses Foucault’s argument in Parts One (on the spectacle of public execution) and Three (on discipline and panopticism) of Foucault’s Discipline and Punish. She begins by talking about Foucault’s views of power, the relationship between power and knowledge, and his idea of his political role as an intellectual. Then she talks about the reversal of vision in the text, from the sovereign power being the spectacle (Part One of the text) to individuals being surveyed in disciplinary power (Part Three).
Please see this Mediasite link for the video with the slides attached.
There are no slides in the embedded YouTube video, below.
- Foucault has said in interviews that he doesn’t want to tell people what they should do. Are there ways one can see indications of Foucault’s own moral judgements in this text nevertheless?
- For Foucault, “power and knowledge directly imply one another” (27). How can we see this relationship between power and knowledge in Discipline and Punish? You may, if you wish, compare/contrast the relationship between power and knowledge as discussed in part of Discipline and Punish with how power and knowledge are related in one other text we have read (e.g., Plato, Hobbes, Shakespeare, Carter, or another text of your choosing).
- Discuss Foucault’s view of the “spectacle” of sovereign power (whether in punishment or in any other context), and how we can see it in one other text or film we have discussed so far this year.
- Discuss Foucault’s view of “panopticism” and how we can see it in one other text or film we have discussed so far this year.
- “The exercise of discipline presupposes a mechanism that coerces by means of observation” (170). Discuss the connection between vision and power in Discipline and Punish, and in one other text or film we have discussed so far this year.
- Can the relationships enacted in social media today be seen as extending into new realms /spaces the disciplinary mechanisms and practices that Foucault discusses in his book? Explain, using Foucault’s ideas from Discipline and Punish to support your argument.
- Discuss how Foucault’s argument regarding the disciplinary mechanisms of educational institutions applies (or not) to your educational experiences to date.
- Some readers and critics have seen Foucault’s position in Discipline and Punish as hopeless, arguing that because power is everywhere, there is no escaping it – in other words, that Foucault’s philosophy precludes the possibility of any form of revolutionary action. Based on your reading of Discipline and Punish, do you agree? Why or why not?