Dr. Carisa R. Showden
Associate Professor Political Science
Ethics: Subjectivity and Truth
by Michel Foucault (edited by Paul Rabinow)
It’s fair to say that Michel Foucault’s theories of power and subject-formation represented a paradigm challenge in the social sciences and humanities. Through grappling with his work my fundamental understanding of how gender identity is shaped, and how it operates politically, shifted. This also meant that everything I thought I knew going into my dissertation was completely upended by the time I had finished writing the book that evolved from it. Ethics: Subjectivity and Truth is a collection of course summaries and interviews from late in Foucault’s career. Because of the timing and structure of the book, it represents some of his most developed ideas presented in their clearest and most succinct form. His ideas about ethics in the context of friendship and “technologies of the self” are especially provocative and fundamental to how I have come to think about problems of agency, subjectivity, and politics. They are also now critical for understanding major developments in contemporary political theory.