Lecture: Deconstructing the Repressive Hypothesis in History of Sexuality

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Lecture: Deconstructing the Repressive Hypothesis in History of Sexuality
Lecturer: Kellye McBride
Teacher bio: http://peoplescolloquium.org/teacher-bios/

As moderns, we tend to think of the history of sexuality in terms of a linear structure: there was a time in history in which sexuality was horribly repressed until recently, and since then we have liberated ourselves from such backward ideas. However, given the legal, social, and political problems tied to sexuality that still occur today, we might naturally become suspicious of this linear view of progress.

This lecture will attempt to address the first of Foucault’s four-volume series on sexuality, which first introduces his theory of the “repressive hypothesis.” Foucault challenges the notion that, from the seventieth to the mid-twentieth century sexuality was repressed by the rise of capitalism and then subsequently liberated during the Sexual Revolution in the 1960s. In fact, he traces the history of sexuality to the idea of the confession and the dual scientific and religious interest in “perverse” sexualities, such as the sexuality of children, homosexuals, mentally ill, and criminals. This lecture will also pay special attention to Foucault’s use of genealogy following his switch from archaeology in The Order of Things.