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Genealogy & Critique of Neoliberalism: Foucault and Bataille (PH348-15)

Timing & CATS

This module is not running in 2017-18

Module Description

The immediate context of this module is the current financial and economic crisis, the origins of which we hope to identify and engage with critically by reading works by M. Foucault and Georges Bataille, two leading figures of 20th century French philosophy who, amongst other things, sought to address the problem of political economy from a position that was neither liberal nor marxist. The more general context is that of the dominant forms of subjectivity and the processes of subjectivation under which we live today, and the possibility of creating alternatives.

Learning Outcomes or Aims

This module aims to...

  • to introduce students to the thought of Foucault’s so-called middle period, to his genealogical method, and to Bataille’s own political economy;
  • to come to an understanding of neoliberalism as the socio-economic paradigm defining our political subjectivity via a close reading of Michel Foucault's 1979 lectures at the Collège de France, The Birth of Biopolitics;
  • to develop a genealogical critique of neoliberalism;
  • to suggest alternative modes of subjectivation and other conceptions of the self by looking at key passages from Georges Bataille’s “The Notion of Expenditure” (in Visions of Excess) and The Accursed Share, Volume 3, translated by Robert Hurley (New York: Zone Books, 1989).

By the end of the module students should have...

  • a new set of analytical skills, as informed by Foucault’s genealogical method, and a renewed understanding of what it means to think philosophically;
  • an ability to understand, process and engage with information, data and theories from political and economic theory from a distinctly philosophical perspective: an ability to engage critically with the current economic and political situation.

Contact Time

In this module students must attend 2 hours of lectures and 1 hour of seminars per week.

Lectures for 2015-16
  • Monday 1pm to 2pm in S0.18
  • Wednesday 11am to 12pm R1.15

There will be no lectures in reading week (week 6)

Seminars for 2015-16

Seminars for this course start in week 2

There will be no seminars during reading week (week 6)

Please sign up for a seminar group using Tabula.

Assessment Methods(from 2015-16)

This module will be assessed in the following way:

  • One 1,500-word essay (worth 15% of the module)
  • One 2,500-word essay (worth 85% of the module)

Essays should be submitted to Tabula in line with the essay deadlines schedule.

15% Assessed Essay Titles

85% Assessed Essay Titles

Background Reading and Textbooks

Course Materials