Michel Foucault is a celebrated post-structuralist theorist that has helped shape gender and sexual theory. In A History of Sexuality Volume 1 Foucault dismantles many longstanding sexual traditions and morals by exposing them as societal constructs. According to Foucault, anonymous yet fully invasive power sources have shaped and continue to shape sexual culture and more importantly, individual beliefs about sexuality. However, Foucault's obsession with the influence of power limits his sexual theory in three particular ways. First, he disregards the female sexual experience; second, he undermines individual agency; and third, he undermines the innate desire for love and family. The first half of the paper focuses on his dismissal of the female experience and individual agency. This section of the thesis relies heavily on other feminist scholars, social studies, and the work of historians. The second half of the paper focuses on the human desire for love and family and looks to dystopian literature to help critique Foucault. Dystopian literature has often been paired with modern cultural criticism, including psychoanalysis and post-strucutralism as both act as critiques of the permeating effects of societal control at a community and individual level. However, even dystopian literature leaves some room for individual agency and explores the innate desire for love and family.
College and Department
Humanities; Comparative Arts and Letters
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Grow, Anne E., "The Meaning of Sexuality: A Critique of Foucault's History of Sexuality Volume 1" (2018). Theses and Dissertations. 6744.
Michel Foucault, Post-Structuralism, dystopian literature, sexuality, agency, reproduction