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The History of Sexuality

In the History of Sexuality, Foucault tackles how power operates through discourses on sex. Much like Discipline and Punish, Foucault illustrates how power did not repress sexual desires and behaviors, as many have suggested, but instead produced a ton of discourse and knowledge about it, making sexuality part of our identity. It is a difficult reading but is well worth the effort. Answer the following questions after completing it.


1. Foucault contends that Western civilizations produced a science of sexuality through the confession. How does the confession “unfold within a power relationship”?

2. Foucault argues that the act of confessing has extended beyond the church. In your words, describe how medicine and psychiatry transformed the confession into scientific knowledge.

3. Online communication offers countless outlets for confession. Describe a concrete example from the news, popular culture, or your own experience in which a confession was made online (such as on Twitter or Facebook). According to Foucault, how did power operate in your example?

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