This class will introduce students to Michel Foucault’s philosophy. We will review exemplary texts of all stages of Foucault’s thought by studying his views on rationality, language, power, critique, and ethics. We will pay special attention to Foucault’s early idea that the self is an “effect’ of discourses and their rationality, and we will contrast these ideas with the recently published lectures on the self that Foucault delivered before his death in Paris, and which were every week (voluntarily!) attended by more than 1000 persons.
General Character of this Class
This class is set up as a course for upper-level, self-determined learners. It presupposes that you understand that attending a university is nothing like being in high school. Being a self determined learner means the following: (a) that you are able to carefully study the material without my force and control, (b) that you area capable of and interested in organizing the texts and clarifying its main points, and (c) that you are able to consult secondary literature, organize study groups, or make an appointment with me whenever you don't understand the material. In addition, it presupposes that you are able to express in class (which is to say, not when it is over) your satisfaction or dissatisfaction about the course and how it is structured. The assignments in this class are very selective, and are not based on how well you can memorize material. Rather, they give everyone in class the chance to enter a serious way of studying texts beyond just "reading" them. Depending on your attitude, these assignments can be extremely challenging and thought-provoking. The selected assignments (test, presentation, paper, exam) give everyone in class the chance to develop a highly sophisticated way of understanding some of Foucault's ideas; their aim is not directed at the acquisition of "surface knowledge."
it is hoped that students will get an understanding of
In addition, the assignments will challenge you in regard to
My lectures and discussion of the material will
Real learning is not properly measured by multiple-choice tests; especially since in philosophy there is no specific content of a sort that may be covered well in standardized examinations, which every student in philosophy should be expected to master. Instead, you will - hopefully - come to recognize that philosophy as a general intellectual reflection on what we are and why we are here, deals with your dignity as human beings and with your intellect and reason, which is best expressed in a form of learning that is based on understanding and insight, and not mere learning by heart. It is hoped that the class will stimulate the view that intellectual activity (and therefore human reality) has to do with the passion of thinking, and the passion of understanding our world. No love, no attraction, no learning.
Note: Please do not buy alternative translations! We should all have the same text.
Required Course Packet
There will be a course packet with brief selections of other texts concerning Foucault in general, such as Althusser, Sartre, and Saussure.
Commentaries on Foucault can be extremely helpful. Beside the mandatory text selected for class I I recommend the following texts:
About French Philosophy in general
Biographies, Short Overview, Institutional Background
The course will be organized such that, ideally, each class period will include [i] "interactive" lecture, [ii] oral presentations (group assignment, active learning part I) or [iii] either discussion time (active learning part II) [iv] or group assignments (active learning part III). Students will be asked to [a] read a certain text or part of a text for the next class period and [b] give oral presentations (group presentations).
We are not in high school, the consequence of which is that there won't be stupid assignments that make you busy. It goes without saying that you should carefully prepare the texts selected for this class. I assume that you should DAILY study texts (around 5 pages). Studying texts is not identical with just taking information in, for it requires activity and pleasure (!) on your side. Successful and pleasurable reading requires an understanding of the author's project. If you are not willing to study self-responsibly at home, don't take this class.
I hope and strongly encourage that students attend all classes. However, I will not require attendance, as I think that college students should manage their own class attendance decisions. Nevertheless, please be aware that you should not make me responsible for a failure that results out of your decision.
Every student is asked to submit up to 6 reponse sheets during the semester, preferbaly after the presentation of your research projects.
The response sheets have to be submitted at the end of a class session. I do not accept late turn ins. Submission is voluntary.
Students who do not actively participate in class will not loose points. I would like to foster an open class atmosphere, in which every participants can express his/her thoughts freely, that is to say, without judgmental pressure.
There will be three tests, in which I will raise two questions about the (difficult) readings, which focus on your comprehension. The exams have the format of pass/fail tests, and each test counts six points.
In Class Essay Exam
There will be one main in-class exam, in which I will raise two questions about the readings, which focus on your comprehension. The first question asks for an explanation of a quote, the second question deals with a broader issue that we discussed in class.
Every paper must contain a writer's and an editor's checklist. Papers must be submitted in class and by email (either Rich Text Format or MS Word). Every student has an "editor" (who is a student in this class!) who reads and evaluates the paper before it is turned in. Writing is a process and it is hoped that students will revise papers as well as critically explore and reflect on their own writing. I will mark down papers that do not contain a writer's and an editor's checklist. Paper length = around 8-10 pages.
Please choose one of the following paper topics
Every student in class should send me a one page abstract of your paper by email (see schedule above). Late turn ins will result in loosing points.
Reviewing (Editor's and Writer's Checklist)
Oral Presentations (Student Research Project)
c.2.) Wait until you're finished to ask the class questions and lead discussion. Be creative! Try to involve the class in your discussion of the material. Note: do not try to present everything. Choose your issues carefully, and try to explain these in depth. In addition, I am interested in evaluating how you work as a team/group. Oral presentations are group work!
c.3.) Every presentation and every discussion of our class presentations will be moderated by a student in class. The moderator will be responsible for taking questions, organizing the discussion and initiating discussions if the audience remains silent.
General Remark on Assignments
The handouts of the presentations as well as the response sheets will in and outside of the classroom force us to have an ongoing reflection on our texts that we read in class. In addition, the assignments will help to prepare the exam. Reading and studying the primary texts is the absolute focus of this class. If you carefully read the texts, then you will easily master the exams.
You will be evaluated on the basis of:
We will have the exciting opportunity to broaden our point of view on March 21 (I expect everyone to be in class on that day). Dr. Morash, Professor at, and the Director of, the MSU School of Criminal Justice will give a guest lecture in our class. General areas of her interest include causes of delinquency, operations of the juvenile justice system, and women in the criminal justice system. Please check out Dr. Morash's home page, if you would like additional background information.
I hope that we can visit one of Michigan's prisons. TBA
GENERIC SYLLABUS (might not be applicable to each class)
As mentioned above, I do not employ in my classes a class attendance policy. Having said this, you should be aware that class attendance is very important. When engaging in a philosophical and humanistic dialogue it is necessary to be an active and present participant in the ongoing discussion. If you miss class please do not email me asking if you missed anything important. Every class is important. You should get a study buddy for the class; a student in class who will inform you of what you missed. An email referencing that you miss a class and want to know what you missed will result in 10 percent off your final grade score. If you miss a class you can come to my office hours or make an appointment to discuss the material, providing you have read the material and you simply want to see if your understanding of the material is on target.
Helpful information about oral presentations, paper writing and plagiarism
Online Research Sources
Unfortunately, some people think that the internet as such is a reliable source of information. If you decide to use online sources for additional information or your paper then do not just use one of the common internet search engines, such as Google; rather, use reliable academic sources, such as Britannica Online, or the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy isn't very good, but still acceptable. Check out MSU's library resources! And, as with other sources, you must cite any online sources to which you refer in your essay.
Writing Center Information
MSU's writing center offers excellent help on all matters regarding writing and learning. Check the website at http://writing.msu.edu for an overview and hours. For more information, please call 517.432.3610 or send an e-mail to email@example.com.
In any essay or exam answer submitted for assessment, all passages taken from other people's work must be placed within quotation marks, with specific reference to author, title and page. no excuse can be accepted for any failure to do so, nor will inclusion of the source in a bibliography be considered inadequate acknowledgement. If the marker decides that plagiarism has occurred, the student may be judged to have failed the class.
Article 2.3.3 of the Academic Freedom Report states that "The student shares with the faculty the responsibility for maintaining the integrity of scholarship, grades, and professional standards." In addition, the (insert name of unit offering course) adheres to the policies on academic honesty as specified in General Student Regulations 1.0, Protection of Scholarship and Grades; the all-University Policy on Integrity of Scholarship and Grades; and Ordinance 17.00, Examinations. (See Spartan Life: Student Handbook and Resource Guide and/or the MSU Web site: www.msu.edu) Therefore, unless authorized by your instructor, you are expected to complete all course assignments, including homework, lab work, quizzes, tests and exams, without assistance from any source. You are expected to develop original work for this course; therefore, you may not submit course work completed for another course to satisfy the requirements for this course. Also, you are not authorized to use the www.allmsu.com Web site to complete any course work in (insert course number here). Students who violate MSU rules may receive a penalty grade, including but not limited to a failing grade on the assignment or in the course. Contact your instructor if you are unsure about the appropriateness of your course work. (See also http://www.msu.edu/unit/ombud/honestylinks.html)
Accommodations for Students with Disabilities
Students with disabilities should contact the Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities to establish reasonable accommodations. For an appointment with a counselor, call 353-9642 (voice) or 355-1293 (TTY
Drops and Adds
The last day to add this course is the end of the first week of classes. The last day to drop this course with a 100 percent refund and no grade reported is (insert date). The last day to drop this course with no refund and no grade reported is (insert date). You should immediately make a copy of your amended schedule to verify you have added or dropped this course.
Note on Attendance
Students who fail to attend the first four class sessions or class by the fifth day of the semester, whichever occurs first, may be dropped from the course.
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