Iscipline and Punish by Michel Foucault

Mid-term paper topic

6-8 pages due Wednesday March 16 (submit on ilearn by 11:55 PM).



Objectives: This paper is an opportunity for you to demonstrate and develop your knowledge of Foucaultas theories of discipline and docility in the text Discipline and Punish. You will be asked to express the understanding of Foucault that youave gained in readings, lectures, and discussions, and to expand on that knowledge by synthesizing it and thinking critically about it. In short, you should not think of this paper assignment primarily as a project of regurgitation, but rather a project of interpretation. I want to know how you understand Foucault and how you make sense of his theories. To support this work, you will have the opportunity within this paper to write about how Foucaultas theories of discipline help you understand the contemporary world and your experiences within it. To make the terms of engagement and the expectations as clear as possible, I have provided a link to a model paper on this topic written by a former student in this course.



Assignment: In the a?Docile Bodiesa? chapter of Discipline and Punish (1977), Michel Foucault writes:

The classical age discovered the body as object and target of power. It is easy enough to find signs of the attention then paid to the body a to the body that is manipulated, shaped, trained, which obeys, responds, becomes skilful and increases its forces. a¦. A body is docile that may be subjected, used, transformed and improved.

What was so new in these projects of docility that interested the eighteenth century so much? a¦. To begin with, there was the scale of control; it was a question not of treating the body, en masse, a?wholesalea, as if it were an indissociable unity, but of working it a?retaila. Individually; of exercising upon it a subtle coercion, of obtaining holds upon it at the level of the mechanism itself a movements, gestures, attitudes, rapidity: an infinitesimal power over the active body. Then there was the object of the control: it was not or was no longer the signifying elements of behavior or the language of the body, but the economy, the efficiency of movements, their internal organization; constraint bears upon the forces rather than upon the signs; the only truly important ceremony is that of exercise. Lastly, there is the modality: it implies an uninterrupted, constant coercion, supervising the processes of the activity rather than its result and it is exercised according to a codification that partitions as closely as possible time, space, movement. These methods, which made possible the meticulous control of the operations of the body, which assured the constant subjection of its forces and imposed upon them a relation of docility-utility, might be called a?disciplinesa DP 136-137. [bold added to aid your understanding and highlight Foucaultas organization]



In your paper, please very briefly contextualize the text cited above in Foucaultas larger argument concerning the shift from the punishment of the body to the punishment of the soul. Develop your paper by discussing in-depth one of the disciplinary techniques that represents this shift. Remember your own discussion posts and look to your peersa posts for inspiration, but expand substantially on them. You may choose from any of the disciplinary techniques covered in the text, lecture and discussion (e.g. The Art of Distributions: Enclosure, Partitioning, Functional Sites, and Rank; The Control of Activity: Time-Table, etc). Do a rich close reading/analysis of that particular technique. Connect that technique with the explanation of its use according the quote cited above. For example, how would partitioning influence the a?scale of control,a? and exact a?an infinitesimal power of the active body.a? Or how would surveillance as it is enabled by functional sites fall within the category of Modality and enable a?an uninterrupted, constant coercion, supervising the processes of the activity rather that its result.a? Concentrate the bulk of your analysis on how what it means for power to be infinitesimal or for power to focus on the process that a human body undergoes rather than the result or product of the human activity. Throughout your discussion, please cite the DP text frequently and articulate the meaning of the text you choose to cite. Follow this section with an in-depth and detailed contemporary analysis of Foucaultas argument and a discussion of the ways in which the a?disciplines,a? as he articulates them, are significant for understanding current power relations. You should maintain your primary focus on a single disciplinary technique, though you may make connections across the a?disciplines.a? This section of the paper will require you to focus on your own direct or indirect experience of power relations in the world and to apply Foucaultas theory of the a?disciplinesa? to their explication. Be specific. In your conclusion, please discuss the overall strengths of Foucaultas analysis of discipline as well as its possible limitations. If we were all docile bodies in this architecture of power, how could we ever express ourselves outside of these all consuming power relations to make any independent decisions? Do we all experience power relations similarly as Foucault seems to suggest or is our experience of power shaped by our race, class, gender, religion, sexuality, language, or disability? Other critiques would be welcome. Feel free to consult and cite secondary sources on Foucaultas DP to help develop your critique (this extra effort, if incorporated well, could boost your grade).



Form and Content: You are encouraged to thinking critically, creatively and deeply about how Foucault helps you understand the world you experience, but the structure of the paper itself should be formal, with a title, introduction, thesis, body paragraphs with cited supports from the text, and a conclusion. Please cite discrete elements from the text, and use only what you need to make your argument. In other words, donat over-cite or drop in huge chunks of text that you donat ultimately analyze. Please follow APA guidelines for citation. For example, quotes under three lines get quotation marks and are integrated into the text. Quotes more than two lines do not get quotation marks and must be set apart as a block, single spaced, and indented .5 on the right and left. All quotes used must be fully explicated and integrated into your argument. Quotes do not speak for themselves.



Grading: The paper will be graded on form and content. An A paper will have a clear thesis that is well supported, and it will be well organized, and show an explicit and analytical engagement with the text. It will have very few if any spelling, grammatical and citation mistakes. All formatting requirements, citation expectations, and tips for avoiding plagiarism are discussed iin the syllabus and links to helpful websites are provided.



You will have over three full weeks to write this paper. The paper grade will constitute 30% of your final grade. Please plan ahead in completing this assignment and develop the paper over several drafts so that you can turn in your best work on what is a challenging topic. It is also important to turn the paper in by the deadline to avoid a significant grade reduction (see syllabus for the late policy and its rationale). If you have had writing difficulty in the past, please visit the SFSU Learning Assistance Center: uselinks_writing.html.



If you have questions, please feel free to reach me during office hours. Good luck. I look forward to reading your papers and getting to know you through your work.