Live Blogging: PhD Theory Class #3

Start with Mark’s presentation:

Moving forward with deepening our understaning of the text and beyond.

Start with considering the linguistic meanings of the title: surveiller et punir: Naissance de la prison

Surveiller: The closest we have is “to supervise” – also survey, watching in order to protect, to mind; also into proctor; lastly as in watching ones self, ones’ body. All these uses have common elements, though the range is wide. Although this difference seems trivial, draws us to the multiplicities that Foucault had in mind.

Revisiting the chapter “Panopticism” and the description of the plague town. References to inspection of authority on inspected houses. Observation posts / sentinals. Survey; gathering information (p. 196). An emegence of a network, a system based on permanent registration. The binary position : normal / abnormal.

New binaries: “With us or against us”

Centralization of bodies: the penetration of regulation into small details.

What we find here is the creation of the “good citizen” – we are doing it for our own benefit. The parallels that can be drawn.

The distribution is imperfect: the gaze discontinuous. Ideal form is Bentham’s Panopticon. The major effect is p. 201: permanent visibility.

Geneological marker: the transportation of the culture of spectacle to the carceral culture.

This is where we are when Foucault was when he finished.

The monolithic panoptic structure as a metaphor: the sense that there is nowhere to run or hide. This is our inheritance: p. 304: the judges of normality are available everywhere.

How much of Foucaults analysis remains relevant? Opinions are divided.

Straightforward readings: Gary Marx “The maximum security society” Increasingly compact devices: the polarity is reversed. The watchers are being watched.

Two examples: Rodney King / The UCLA tasering

Who is watching the watchers? Now: all of us.

Deleuze: “society of control” -discipline requires enclosure. Today, through computers, societies become unstable, fluid. All the information exists in databanks. Masses become samples, markets, databanks. The man of control is in orbit. Not on the body, but on its data double.


Mark Poster: Super-Panopticon.


What winds the book up, the tension that animates it, is Foucaults hatred of opression vs. this emerging realization that there is no individual outside disciplinary practices. How else do you get to be? To be a subject is to be subjected. There is no other way to be.

For Foucault, there is the finest of lines… ethical subjects. For Foucault this doesn’t mean, later on, that these aren’t admirable, useful. It is possible to be reflective about the disciplines that inform you, there is some freedom. It’s not setting you free, as there are all these injunctions.

Power / Knowledge trap!


Writing a book review (800 words)

  • To summarize the content, including the authors qualifications and involvement:
  • Sutuate the book within a field
  • Books readability?
    • How much work does it take to get through this sucker?
  • Tell those who might read this book why they should they read it
    • Tell those who might not read what they might be missing
  • To offer relevant criticsims: don’t look like you are scoring points.

How do you prepare?

  • What was the most important thing? What did it teach
  • Did it change my thinking on this topic? Can I say that I see things differently?
  • What do I admire about the author?
  • Why did the author write this particular book? Given all the other ways…
  • What are your legitimate dissapointments?
  • Which editorial choices turned out badly?
  • Tell potential readers what they can expect, what they might not expect

Writing Advice

  • Writing to a specific word deadline.
  • Lead that engages readers. Lots of reviews out there, want yours to be read. What is the most engaging line or idea? What moment could make a good lead for my review.
  • Quote the book, but in reviews, keep these short. Avoid block quotations.
  • Avoid adjectives. Show them don’t tell.
  • Keep paragraphs short, sentances short: start with substantive nouns.
  • As you cut “what is the information value” – what does this sentence tell the reader?
  • Minimize references to other books
  • The review is not about you. The least egotistical form of writing, but it is to say something about your style.
  • Learn alot about people about the way they write reviews.


  • Not necessary. No scoring points! What book can cover off everything?
  • Consider yourself accountable
  • Remember how much work it is to publish a book (1 in 100 candidate manuscripts that get published). By the time a book gets to you as a reviewer, it is already high on the pyramid. Be respectful of this!
  • Review the book the author wrote!
  • Avoid criticism like “if I was writing this….”
  • Avoid criticising production values: i.e. number of typos, index, covers…
  • Both praise and criticisms are projections of your own values and your TASTE. A good review are not that far from music criticism. The ultimate goal is to improve the level of taste, and also putting your taste on display.

Use the review to point out what is worth valuing, and why.

Professional issues

  • Double space
  • Deadlines
  • Don’t screw around with someone else trying to do their job

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