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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Vicente L. Rafael
HIST 590
Seattle Campus

Topics in History

Seminar on selected topics in general history, with special emphasis on preparation for field examinations. Topics vary according to interests of students and instructor.

Class description

HIST 590: Foucault and History In this seminar we will ask about the usefulness of Foucault for thinking about history and thinking historically. We will begin with the question of method, the politics and ethics of critique, and an overview of the relationship among power, knowledge and subjectivity in the context of the Western modernity that undergirds Foucault’s writings. Much of our discussion will focus on a set of the lectures he gave on war, race, security, and biopolitics in the 1970s. Alongside Foucault, we will also read other works that help to contextualize and so engage some of his broader claims about power, subjectivity, and the conduct of others. These include essays on network power (Deleuze), computational technologies (Galloway and Thacker), and counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency in the global “war on terror” (Hardt and Negri). We will end with a consideration of the third volume of Hardt and Negri’s work on empire, Commonwealth as a way of bringing our discussion of Foucault to where it has always begun and returned: the present moment, our twenty first century.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Weekly seminar.

Recommended preparation

Graduate student standing. Undergraduates may inquire if there is space and should ask for the professor's permission. Some familiarity with Foucault's works useful but not essential.

Class assignments and grading

Weekly discussions, and a research paper.

Students will be graded on the basis of their class participation and the quality of their writing.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Vicente L. Rafael
Date: 03/05/2012