Introduction to Michel Foucault

Jonathan Wald 

This conference will introduce the work of Michel Foucault, the French philosopher, historian, and writer whose diverse works have made him one of the most commonly referenced figures in the social sciences and humanities. While his impact is apparent in the study of sexuality, medicine, prisons, mental illness, and numerous other topics, many new readers are discouraged by the challenging writing which pervades 20th century French philosophy. This conference will provide an overview to Foucault’s work ranging from his histories of institutions to his philosophical writings in order to help the audience take on Foucault’s writings themselves. In particular, we will focus on the tools Foucault used to analyze a wide array of topics. We will conclude by using Foucault’s methodology to analyze a contemporary topic generated by the audience in order to get a better sense of his philosophy through practice.

For those interested in getting a head start, you can read Foucault’s article, « What is Enlightenment? » which summarizes his life’s work:

http://foucault.info/doc/documents/whatisenlightenment/foucault-whatisenlightenment-en-html [En français aussi]