SOC 16
The Lives of Infamous Men Winter 2022

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Michel Foucault is famous for his analysis of how power and knowledge are interwoven in institutions such as the prison or the clinic. Less well known are the life stories that Foucault exhumed from the archives of these institutions–a patricidal peasant assumed to be insane, an intersexed individual raised as a girl in a convent but later legally identified as a man. These stories provoke questions about the self, identity, power, and resistance. Taking Foucault’s essay “The Lives of Infamous Men” as our point of departure, we will explore the violence done to lives when they are made to conform to the neatness of the archive, and ask how we might do justice to these lives as historians. This class will meet 6 hours per week and include a research component inviting students to construct a biographical report of a historical individual of their choosing.
The Class: Format: lecture
Limit: 30
Grading: pass/fail only
Requirements/Evaluation: 10-page paper
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: seniority
Unit Notes: William Stahl is a political theorist researching the politics of biography. Previously, he has taught at New York University, Abu Dhabi and the University of California, Los Angeles.
Materials/Lab Fee: none

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