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The History of Sexuality 1: An Introduction (The History of Sexuality #1)

4.04  ·  Rating Details ·  12,794 Ratings  ·  491 Reviews
Three volumes of The History of Sexuality were published before Foucault's death in 1984. The 1st & most referenced volume, The Will to Knowledge (previously known as An Introduction in English—Histoire de la sexualité, 1: la volonté de savoir in French) was published in France in 1976 & translated in 1977, focusing primarily on the last two centuries, & the fu ...more
Paperback, 168 pages
Published April 14th 1990 by Vintage/Random House (NY) (first published 1976)
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Jun 16, 2013 Warwick rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: nobody whatsoever
This is a perfect example of the kind of writing characterised by Clive James as prose that ‘scorns the earth for fear of a puncture’. Foucault may be able to think – it's not easy to tell – but he certainly can't write.

Everywhere there is an apparent desire to render a simple thought impenetrable. When he wants to suggest that the modern world has imposed on us a great variety in the ways we talk about sex, he must refer to ‘a regulated and polymorphous incitement to discourse’. When he advance
The History of (my) Sexuality:

At age five, I developed an affection for my babysitter. It is unclear if this was at all latent to any form of sexuality, merely friendship, or the product of society's exertion of power over my perceptions in regard to sexuality which taint the ideas I have of childhood relations through the lens of my memories.


At a young age I had a recurring nightmare which kept me often awake, that my father was chasing me around a tundra, riding a polar bear. It is unclear
Jun 16, 2015 Suha rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
قد لا يكون لدي الكثير للإحاطة و وصف هذا الكتاب المحنك. لكن علي أن أشير لأكثر النقاط التي أثارت دهشتي.

أولها كانت في منهجية فوكو في معالجة موضوع الجنسانية و الجنس( وهما بالتأكيد أمرين مختلفين؛ حيث تشير الأولى للمنظومة الخطابية و الفكرية التي نمت حول قضية الجنس، أما الأخرى فتشير للغريزة الإنسانية البحت ) فهو يعمل بشكل تأريخي توليفي في تحليله لخلق الأفكار، فنجده يزاوج أو يربط بين السلطة و المعرفة و المتعة، أو الجنس/القمع، أو السلطة/المتعة، أو المعرفة/المتعة. من جهة أخرى، لغة فوكو تطفح أدبية و سلاسة
Jan 19, 2013 AC rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Disappointing, esp. after reading a masterpiece like Discipline and Punish. This book consists of a serious of loosely connected, and individually incomplete meditations on various topics, that are intended to serve (not very successfully, imo) as a prolgomena to a history of sexuality. Indeed, the project was abandoned (what was eventually publishd as vols. 2-3 was part of a newly and differently conceived project begun several years later), proving that the current work was a failure.

It shoul
Feb 14, 2008 Y rated it it was amazing
Shelves: theory-and-ish
um. what can i say about this book that hasnt already been said? i read it my second year of college and it blew my mind, and in a good way, unlike kant, who made me cry actual tears in overwhelming frustration. foucaults ability to trace the burgeoning relationship between science and sexuality, the changes in the ways of perceiving a womans body, the notion of the creation of (a) sexuality, and, of course, the dynamics of power and discourse, are nothing short of brilliant in this classic stud ...more
Asam Ahmad
Aug 16, 2010 Asam Ahmad rated it it was amazing
The History of Sexuality is not really a history of sexuality. It is rather a genealogical study of a specific historical, political & discursive construction called ‘sexuality’ – a construction that has been deployed since its inception to police bodies and to service the social, political & economic exigencies of power.

Foucault begins by questioning why we so ardently believe that our sexuality is repressed – why we think 'confessing our sex' is a liberatory or even revolutionary acti
Jan 03, 2008 Trevor rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy
A much more difficult Foucault - and not nearly as interesting as his history of madness. He seems to take a long time to get started and does seem to repeat himself an awful lot.

All the same, the ideas around the difference between Western and Eastern notions of sexuality are well with thinking about. Essentially Eastern sexuality is an erotic thing - something understood through experience. Western sexuality is 'scientific' in the sense that it only makes sense once we can talk about it.

Stef Rozitis
Nov 06, 2015 Stef Rozitis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction-tbr
I was unsure how many stars to give it, but after reading the critiques of it by some readers I need to give it a lot of stars because the critiques just don't make sense. It does lose a star from this subjective and biased reader for consistantly using terms like "man" and "men" for humans even though there IS an awareness of misogyny in the history. I do think the author could have worded that better (quite probably I have the translator to blame).

This book is hard to understand, densely and c
Kristen Shaw
In the words of my professor, "we're living in a post-Foucauldian world, so this will seem really self-evident, but that doesn't mean its right." Coming from that angle, I've been reading from a very critical position. I like Foucault's thesis and his examination seems pretty exhaustive, at least historically. I'm really caught on the discussion of the bourgeoisie and proletariat 'sexual bodies.' Foucault's statement that the technology of sexuality and proliferation of sexual power discourses w ...more
Sep 29, 2008 kappoo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
ازپایان سده شانزدهم بدین سو، "به گفتمان درآوردن" سکس نه از فرایند محدودیت، بلکه برعکس از سازوکار تحریک فزاینده تبعیت می کند، که نشان می دهد تکنیک های قدرتی که بر سکس اعمال می شود، نه از اصل انتخاب سختگیرانه، بلکه از اصل انتشار و اشاعه سکسوالیته های چند ریختی تبعیت می کند و نشان می دهد که اراده به دانستن دربرابر تابویی رفع ناشدنی متوقف نشده است، بلکه برساخت علمی از سکسوالیته اصرار داشته است. ...صفحه20
Nuno Ribeiro
Neste primeiro volume, Foucault faz a ligação entre a Grécia e o Cristianismo, assegurando-se que não reforça a ideia de uma ruptura cultural, que não terá existindo, visto que uma cultura terá herdado a outra e a partir dela evoluído, nem a de uma transição suave, que também não aconteceu, segundo o autor.

A cristandade trouxe de facto mudanças profundas. Mas elas aconteceram ao longo de séculos. A própria condenação do amor dos rapazes vai sendo gradual e começa ainda nos gregos, no final do p
Ali Ben
Jun 02, 2010 Ali Ben rated it it was amazing
Why one more review?

Reading our comrades' review, one is very surprised. First of all, many seem to think this book "outdated", which is quite surprising - towards Foucault's writings, the question probably is if we failed the test of time, rather than if he did...

More interesting, most seem to be deceived by the title, and assume this is a book about "sexuality".

Indeed, the discourse on sexuality (Victorian Era, confession, psychoanalysis, etc.) forms its background. The real subject, however,
Jun 24, 2010 gieb rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Membaca buku ini pas dengan momennya. Karena seperti kita ketahui bersama, beberapa minggu terakhir ini, kita bisa menyaksikan betapa kekuasaan mampu menggapai, menembus dan mengontrol individu sampai pada kenikmatan-kenikmatan yang paling intim. Tanpa perlu saya sebutkan siapa aktor individu tersebut, kita dipahamkan dari peristiwa ini, bahwa di seputar hubungan intim itu telah dibangun perlengkapan serta mesin untuk memproduksi kebenaran. Artinya seks ternyata bukan hanya masalah sensasi denga ...more
Jessica Bicking
Apr 17, 2015 Jessica Bicking rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theory, dansk
So, in February a friend of mine suggested we'd join this philosophy reading club at my university's humanities department and since I've been feeling my Danish slipping (and maybe my philosophy even more so), I agreed it was a good idea and more or less aimlessly signed up for this year's Foucault group. And while I have no idea how either my friend nor the group, that I only managed to take part in once, have fared with this piece -- I had to just finish it now, as it appears I am already owin ...more
Jan 18, 2010 Matt rated it really liked it
The History of Sexuality is a history with little to no citation. What struck me as particularly frustrating with Foucault in Discipline and Punish is also present here. Whereas I have some understanding of legal history to recognize the generalities and oversimplified principles operating within his summary of criminal law, I don’t have the same background in gender studies or the equivalent. Undoubtedly, he sketches the evolution of societal response to sexuality in a hurried outline, but I ca ...more
Jen Seman
Sep 21, 2009 Jen Seman rated it it was amazing
After reading this, I can't read anything else without seeing his influence. The relationships between power/knowledge and the construction of sexuality...he turns assumptions upside down and offers a different way of interpreting events, especially commonly held ideas about power relationships. For example, he dismisses the idea that victorian values repressed sexuality. He would insist that just the opposite is true - that the Victorian age offered multiple sites and institutions which increas ...more
sahar soliman
Sep 15, 2016 sahar soliman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
ثلاثية الجنسانية لميشيل فوكو تبدأ من هذا الكتاب "المقدمة" أو كما سميت بالترجمة العربية "إرادة العرفان" ويبدأ منها ميشيل فوكو بسرد فكرة الجنسانية المختلفة عن فكرة الجنس بحيث أن مفهوم "الجنسانية" قد نشأ وتبلور في أبهى صوره خلال القرن الثامن والتاسع عشر في المجتمعات الغربية التي كان هدفها الأساسي هو إنشاء كثافة سكانية داعمة لمنهجية الإقتصاد والسياسة والتي طمحت لخلق بشر أصحاء ذو مهارات وصفات متميزة لخدمة المجتمع. أما عن فكرة "الجنس" فهو النشاط الحاصل بين شخصين تولدت بينهم الرغبة في الإشباع وقمع هذه ...more
Dec 20, 2015 Caterina rated it really liked it
Recommended to Caterina by: Patrick
"The aim of this series of studies? To transcribe into history the fable of Les Bijoux indiscrets. Among its many emblems, our society wears that of the talking sex. In the space of a few centuries, a certain inclination has led us to direct the question of who we are, to sex … The West has managed … to bring us almost entirely—our bodies, our minds, our individuality, our history—under the sway of a logic of concupiscence and desire. . . . Sex, the explanation for everything.” (pp. 77-78)

In the
Jan 30, 2014 Lexidreams rated it it was amazing
Read for my Queer Studies class. A study of sexuality, bodies, pleasures, institutions, discourse, knowledge, power, 'truth', and all the relations therein. It definitely changed the way I think. He says in the book that the history of Western sexuality is really a history of discourse, and that is what you should be expecting (as he hammers home: sexuality is discursively produced).
It can be frustrating because it's a book based around ideas; the abstract and not the material. Somewhere in ther
May 30, 2009 Bradley rated it it was amazing
Reading this for my Materialist Workshop/Reading Group. We've delved into Birth of the Clinic, a few of his Lectures, and the three volumes of History of Sexuality. Foucault said that History of Sexuality was supposed to be his magnum opus. It took him nearly a decade to complete, and it is comprised mainly of 'Big Ideas,' in the sense that Foucault often forgets to flesh out the details of his work. He paints in broad brush strokes, and I attribute this lack of detail to his burgeoning status a ...more
Erik Graff
Jun 15, 2013 Erik Graff rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Foucault fans
Recommended to Erik by: Karen Engdahl
Shelves: history
I read this while visiting friends in Springfield, Vermont, mostly on their porch and outside the town's sole cafe. The reading occurred after the completion of Norman O. Brown's Life Against Death, another book concerned with the liberatory and repressive potentials of sexuality.

My intellectual interest in sex stems in part from the recognition of how references to it are used to manipulate. Advertising is a conspicuous example, but the manipulatory sexualization of society is far broader and m
Sep 19, 2010 Jamie rated it it was amazing
Foucault's "History of Sexuality" was assigned twice over the course of my semester; for one class, our theme is the intersection between queer and race theories; for the other, a strict literary (theory) methods foundation. As such, we discussed the text in two very different ways for each of the classes, with one debate focusing largely on the absence of race in Foucault's history; the other, on conceptions of power in the text, and their relation to Foucault's "What Is an Author?" Nevertheles ...more
Megat Hanis
Jun 07, 2015 Megat Hanis rated it it was amazing
Sexuality rather than being one part of ourself, has become an identity that define who we are. Foucault brilliantly using genealogical method aimed at unmasking the complexities of socially constructed power relations that spreads through the discourse on sexuality. He wrote against repressive theory that suggest, sexuality since the 17th century has been repressed and consequently needs to be liberated to achieve true freedom. For Foucault, not only the discourse on sexuality has been prolifer ...more
Jul 16, 2008 Kevin rated it did not like it
Shelves: philosophy
the failure of semiotics and semiology is not complete yet. the use of words to replace true symbols points to the inward navel gazing of READERS, who READ into things, not study the biostructure (or rather the biogenetic structures) of form, movement, semiologists seem to be unaware of the myths that suffuse the very words they employ to dissect other more sophisticated structures. indeed cosmopolitan, the craft is wedded to tools born in the lit criticism freud used and called psychoanalysis. ...more
Mai Abdulwahab
"السلطة توجد في كل مكان، ليس لانها تشكل كل شيء، وانما لانها تأتي من كل مكان.أما ال سلطة بما تحتويه كشيء دائم، متكرر، جامد، ذاتي- الإنتاج ، فليست سوي مفعول المجموع الذي يرتسم انطلاقا من كل هذه الحركيات،التسلسل الذي يعتمد علي كل واحدة منها ويحاول بالمقابل تثبيتها.
"السلطة ليست مؤسسة، ولا هي بنية، انها ليست قوة معينة قد تكون وقفا علي البعض: بل انها الاسم الذي نمنحه لوضعية إستراتيجية معقدة في مجتمع معطي."
بعد هذا النص لك ان تتخيل مدي تركيب وعمق أفكار هذا الكتاب الصغير الحجم ولكن مليء بالاشكالات المتع
How did it take me so long to read this?
Sep 25, 2016 João rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lgbt, non-fiction
Michael Foucault subverte a convicção generalizada de que vivemos à sombra da "moral sexual repressiva vitoriana" para nos obrigar a refletir sobre o conceito de sexualidade e de como, ao invés de repressão sexual, termos tido, ao longo dos últimos séculos, um crescente escrutinar da sexualidade (ou das sexualidades) individuais: "Em vez de uma preocupação uniforme com a ocultação do sexo, em vez de uma hipocrisia generalizada de linguagem, o que distingue estes três últimos séculos é a variedad ...more
Nikolay Mollov
Nov 21, 2013 Nikolay Mollov rated it it was amazing
Изследването на Мишел Фуко в първи том на История на сексуалността. Волята за знание поглежда към периода от 17 до 19 век (както и лаконично споменаване на 20 век). Идеините насоки на труда са свързани с очертаването на промените, настъпили в сексуалността по време на разглеждания период. Някои от основните понятия в инструментариума на Фуко са: власт, знание, дискурс, диспозитив, анатомополитика, биовласт, биополитика, биоистория. Чрез тези понятия Фуко изгражда основните си идеи като очертава ...more
Ahmed Almawali
الطقس القرائي:-
تاريخ الجنسانية من الكتب الصعبة، العميقة، التي تحتاج لقراءة تحليلية خالصة، خصوصا لمن لم يتعود على أسلوب هوجو. الإشكالية التي خبرتها أن الإنقطاع عن قراءة الكتاب وكثرة تجزيئه لوحدات صغيرة يضر أكثر مما ينفع، ويخلق تشتتا في ذهن يحتاج إلى ترابط من الأفكار، ولو لم يكن ثم ملاحظات دونتها عن بعض الأفكار وما فهمته أثناء القراءة لشردت وتبخرت.

- تطور الخطاب عن الجنس في القرن السابع عشر وما يليه، كان حينها حذر، ولا يُتحدث عنه إلا في حدود النصيحة (كنيسة، مدرسة). تبِعَ هذا الخطابَ الصامتَ الحذرَ
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Michel Foucault was a French philosopher, social theorist and historian of ideas. He held a chair at the Collège de France with the title "History of Systems of Thought," and lectured at the University at Buffalo and the University of California, Berkeley.

Foucault is best known for his critical studies of social institutions, most notably psychiatry, medicine, the human sciences and the prison sys
More about Michel Foucault...

Other Books in the Series

The History of Sexuality (3 books)
  • The History of Sexuality 2: The Use of Pleasure
  • The History of Sexuality 3: The Care of the Self

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“Where there is power, there is resistance.” 288 likes
“The appearance in nineteenth-century psychiatry, jurisprudence, and literature of a whole series of discourses on the species and subspecies of homosexuality, inversion, pederasty, and "psychic hermaphroditism" made possible a strong advance of social controls into this area of "perversity"; but it also made possible the formation of a "reverse" discourse: homosexuality began to speak in its own behalf, to demand that its legitimacy or "naturality" be acknowledged, often in the same vocabulary, using the same categories by which it was medically disqualified.” 29 likes
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