From: John Ransom <ransom@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sat, 17 Jan 1998 13:21:21 -0500 (EST)
On Sat, 17 Jan 1998, IR. Douglas wrote:
> I'm running a seminar series on biopower in general and one of these
> sessions is concerned with Foucault's investigations of
> 'politzeiwissenchaft' (the 'Wohlfahrt' state:
> Along with each theme I want to show an appropriate film. I have films
> for the sessions on madness, delinquency, medicine, militarism etc., but I
> cannot think of one which would best represent the type of state that
> Foucault had in mind when he talked about the rise of biopower: the type
> of state that attempts not to limit or suppress life, but facilitate it.
> Orwell's 1984 is a good example of the former (the boot stamping on a
> human face forever), but I'm at a loss to think of a film that represents
> the state specifically in its 'positive' role.
> any help would be much appreciated!!
> Ian R. Douglas
> Visiting Scholar,
> Brown University
Sounds like a great course! Wish I were there. I want to think more about
movie titles, but I am unable to think of something immediately either.
One point you might make to your students is that this is one of
Foucault's best insights, one that had not at the time and has not still
made it into creative arts.
Perhaps one way to do it is to ask students to look for the more hidden
positive moves of power in films that wear the repression-angle on their
sleeves. For instance, "A Maiden's Tale" has a lot of repressive stuff in
it, but in order for this to work a number of positive embodiments of
power have to go on.
"The Last Detail" doesn't show us power producing subjectivity, but does
show us some fairly stunted results of that production.
A good place where "biopower" can be seen breaking down is "Diary of a Mad
Housewife." So too "Coming Home." But (a) I'm sure you've thought of these
and (b) they don't really fit the bill, do they?
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