1st Edition

The Routledge Guidebook to Foucault's The History of Sexuality

By Chloe Taylor Copyright 2017
    272 Pages
    by Routledge

    272 Pages
    by Routledge

    Michel Foucault’s The History of Sexuality is one of the most influential philosophical works of the twentieth century and has been instrumental in shaping the study of Gender, Feminist Theory and Queer Theory. But Foucault’s writing can be a difficult book to grasp as Foucault assumes a familiarity with the intellectually dominant theories of his time which renders many passages obscure for newcomers to his work.

    The Routledge Guidebook to Foucault’s The History of Sexuality offers a clear and comprehensive guide to this groundbreaking work, examining:

    • The historical context in which Foucault wrote
    • A critical discussion of the text, which examines the relationship between The History of Sexuality, The Use of Pleasure and The Care of The Self
    • The reception and ongoing influence of The History of Sexuality

    Offering a close reading of the text, this is essential reading for anyone studying this enormously influential work.


    Chapter One: The Will to Know

    Questioning the Repressive Hypothesis


    The Social Construction of Sexualities

    The Perverse Implantation

    Chapter Two: Power Over Life

    Objective: Regicide

    Method: or How to Theorize Power without the King

    Power is everywhere

    Power is war

    Power is relational

    Power is immanent

    Power comes from below

    Power relations are intentional and non-subjective

    Power produces resistance

    Chapter Three: Women, Children, Couples and ‘Perverts’

    Denaturalizing Sex

    Domain: The Family





    Periodization: Retelling the History of Sexuality

    Chapter Four: Sex, Racism, and Death

    From Sanguinity to Sexuality

    Foucault’s Genealogy of Modern Racism

    From Spectacles of Death to the Management of Morbidity




    Letting Die

    De-sexing sexuality

    Chapter Five: The History of Sexuality and Feminist Theory

    Feminist Tensions

    The Repressive Hypothesis, Identity Politics, and the Feminist Sex Wars

    Consciousness Raising, Confession, and Experience

    Feminist Bodies and Pleasures

    Chapter Six: The History of Sexuality and Queer Theory

    From Feminism to Queer Theory

    ‘A Queer Voice’

    Canonizing Foucault

    ‘The Imperial Prude’

    Chapter Seven: A Genealogy of the Desiring Subject

    Revising the Project

    Sexual Austerity and the Monogamous Ideal

    Using Sex

    Sexual Anxiety

    ‘The antimony of the boy’

    A Male Ethics

    Ethics versus Codes


    Positions and Partners

    Sexual Binaries

    Sex and Health

    Sex without Psychology

    The Use of The Use of Pleasure



    Chloë Taylor is Associate Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies and Philosophy at the University of Alberta, Canada. She has a PhD in Philosophy from the University of Toronto and was a Tomlinson postdoctoral fellow in Philosophy at McGill University.

    Taylor’s well-written guide to Foucault’s History of Sexuality promises to become a welcome companion for students delving into Foucault’s influential text, as it provides historical context and clarifies points of reference that may require some explanation and background for the new reader of Foucault.
    Claudia Schippert, University of Central Florida, USA

    In this invaluable guide to Foucault’s History of Sexuality Volume 1, Taylor offers a lucid explication of one of the most consistently misread books of our time. Without sacrificing nuance or depth, Taylor frames Foucault’s History of Sexuality within the history of eugenics. This text will be especially illuminating for students who have looked to Foucault for a theory of sexual liberation. The chapters on Foucault’s uptake by feminists and queer theorists are a tour de force! Highly recommended for beginners and experts alike.
    Lynne Huffer, Emory University, USA