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Essay on Foucault's Discipline and Punish and Power and Sex

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Foucault's "Discipline and Punish" and "Power and Sex"

Every great architect is - necessarily - a great poet. He must be a great original interpreter of his time, his day, his age- Frank Lloyd Wright

Darkness is meant to conceal, light is meant to expose, and there is power intrinsically imbued in both of these. Murderers hide in the dark, waiting for their victims, and the atrocities of different countries are hidden in history and official memos and propaganda. At the same time, light exerts power because it illuminates, it discovers, it creates vulnerability on all it touches. These powers, however, do not simply exist; they are forged within every aspect of life, even the very structures that people live in. Low-income tenement apartments are built so that they are not seen, colored in a drab shade of gray or brick, build alongside one another so that they blend into the background. They have small lawns and even smaller windows so that people walking by cannot get a glimpse of the life inside; darkness is used to hide their sad reality. Victorian mansions, however, do not need to shroud themselves in darkness. Their almost treeless lawns, small front gardens, and large picture windows are meant to illuminate their wealth, showing it off for the entire world to see.

Beginning in the eighteenth or nineteenth century, the nature of punishment began to change. Slowly, the spectacle of justice which accompanied the public executions and torture of the Middle Ages began to recede farther and farther away from the public into the fringes of society as the institution of the prison began to take shape. Hidden by both distance and structure, the large stone/concrete walls and small windows kept the real...


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...to guide its movements. It is not the Panopticon itself which has degraded women, but rather, the people who have caused this through their objectification of women. By using it as a means of implementing their ideology, the people have transformed the Panopticon from a mere tool into a mirror of its time.



Works Cited

Foucault, Michel. “Discipline and Punish.” Literary Theory: An Anthology-Second Edition. Ed. Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan. Malden, Massachusettes: Blackwell Publishing, 2004. 549-566.

Foucault, Michel. “Power and Sex.” Politics. Philosophy. Culture-Interviews and Other Writings 1977-1984. Ed. Lawrence D. Kritzman. New York, New York: Routledge, Chapman and Hall, Inc., 1988. 110-124.

Young, Iris Marion. Throwing Like a Girl-Breasted Experience: The Look and the Feeling. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press, 1990.


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