Spring 2016: Phl 820 – Foucault (and Marx)


General information


Here is more information about Prof. Lotz

Class Meetings

Days: M
Time: 7 PM – 10 PM
Place: 530 South Kedzie


Phone: 517.355.4490 [dept.])
Place: 518 S. Kedzie Hall
Hours: by appointment

Other Contact

E-mail: lotz@msu.edu
Home Phone: please ask
Webpage: https://christianlotz.wordpress.com


You will find my box in the front office of the philosophy department



Jan 11, Introduction
Foucault, Truth and Juridical Forms (in EW3), pp.1-16 and pp.52-89
Foucault, Truth and Power (in EW3)
Foucault, Society Must Be Defended, lecture 11 (17 March 1976) OR Foucault, History of Sexuality, Vol.1, ch. 4.4-5, 115-160

Foucault, Marx, Method

Jan 18, MLK Day
no class
Nevertheless! Spend some time with Foucault; for example:
Interview Deleuze/Foucault (online here)
Balibar on Foucault and Marx (online here)
Listen to Balibar on Foucault and Marx here (with response by Judith Butler, no direct audio link)

Jan 25, Methodological Questions: Genealogy and History
[protocol] Patrick
Foucault, Nietzsche, Genealogy, History (in EW1)
Foucault, Questions of Method (in EW3)
Marx, Capital, ch.26, pp.873-876 (think about it in terms of genealogy)
Althusser, On Genesis (online here)
Marx, Capital, ch.4.1+ch.2, pp.163-187
Foucault, What is Critique? (in The Politics of Truth), only pp.58-67

Feb 1, Methodological Questions: Critical Ontology of Relations and Power
Marx, German Ideology, subsection Idealism and Materialism (online here)
Marx, Feuerbach Thesis VI (online here)
Balibar, The Philosophy of Marx, pp.25-35 (his remarks on the ontology of relations, online here)
Foucault, The Subject and Power (in EW3)
Foucault, History of Sexuality, Vol1, pp.93-98 (on power)
Althusser, Reading Capital, ch.8+9 (on structural causality)
Althusser, Is it Simple to be a Marxist in Philosophy? (on totality, knowledge, ant-humanism)
Poulantzas, Political Power and Social Classes, pp.99-119 (on power, via pdf)
Poulantzas, State, Power, Socialism, pp. 146-153 (on power relations, critique of Foucault, via pdf)

Prison Form and Wage Form

Feb 8, The productive subject in Capital
[protocol] Patrick
Marx, Capital, ch.4-7
Marx, Capital, ch.13-14

Feb 15, Movement and Control
[protocol] Hannah
Foucault, The Punitive Society, pp.1-42
Marx, Capital, ch.26-32

Feb 22, Time, Morality, and the Penal
[present.] Wanfei
Foucault, The Punitive Society, pp.43-120
Marx, Capital, ch.10.5-10.7

Feb 29, Body and Control
[protocol] Anh
Foucault, The Punitive Society, pp.170-248
Marx, Capital, ch.23

Foucault, Althusser, The Materiality of Ideology

March 7,
Spring Break

March 14, Ideology, Knowledge, Praxis
[protocol] John
Althusser, On the Reproduction of Capitalism, pp.209-273
Althusser, For Marx, pp.231-235
Lacan, The Mirror-phase as Formative of the Function of the I
Poulantzas, Political Power and Social Classes, pp.206-210, (pdf)
Butler, The Psychic  Life  of  Power, ch.4+5
Macherey, Judith Butler and the Althusserian Theory of Subjection (online here)

March 21, Ideology, Knowledge, Praxis
[protocol] Hannah
Althusser, On the Reproduction of Capitalism, pp.209-273
Ranciere, Althusser’s Lesson, pp.147-153 (pdf)

March 28, Body and Power
[protocol] Wanfei
[present.] Patrick
Foucault, Body/Power (jn Power/Knowledge)
Foucault, The Eye of Power (jn Power/Knowledge)
Foucault, Prison Talk (jn Power/Knowledge)
Foucault, On Geography (jn Power/Knowledge)

Social Form: The Disciplined Body

Apr 4, Torture
[present.] Hannah
Foucault, Discipline and Punish, pp.3-31

Apr 11, [canceled]

April 16/17, Workshop
Towards a Red and Green Future? Marxism, Critical Theory, and Environmental Philosophy. Fifth Workshop in Social and Political Thought.

Apr 18, Discipline
[protocol] Wanfei
[present.] John
Foucault, Discipline and Punish, pp.135-195

Apr 25, Panopticism
[present.]  Hannah
[protocol] John
Foucault, Discipline and Punish, pp.195-231

May 2
Final paper due by the end of the day (via email)

Course Description

“The adjustment of the accumulation of men to that of capital, the joining of the growth of human groups to the expansion of productive forces and the differential alloca­tion of profit, were made possible in part by the exercise of biopower in its many forms and modes of application.” (Foucault, The History of Sexuality, Vol. 1, 140).

Foucault is probably the most popular intellectual and philosopher of the last 50 years in Europe, in particular because his ideas and thinking had an immense influence in many areas outside of philosophy. In this seminar we will leave aside Foucault’s early work as well as his late ethical considerations. Instead, we will look more closely at this writings on power and social organization. Given the overall intellectual climate in the 60s and 70s in France, it is almost impossible to understand much of French social and political thought without considering the influence of Marxist thought in France around that time. In this seminar we will read and discuss Foucault’s writings on society and power. We will also read a few of Marx’s texts in the light of Foucault, and look again at the Foucault-Althusser relationship. Topics will include: society, phenomenology of the body, power, discipline, social control, individuality, biopolitics, capital. Readings: Discipline and Punish; The Punitive Society; Society must be Defended; Birth of Biopolitics; selected interviews and essays by Foucault; and selections from Marx, Althusser, and Poulantzas.

Course Goals

This course should you make familiar with Foucault’s “middle period” during which he mainly focused on the relation between power, subjectivity, and truth. Though for a long time contentious, with the publication of The Punitive Society it became clear that Foucault owed much to Marx’s Critique of Political Economy. We will re-read some of Foucault’s text in the light of Marx and consider a few aspects of Marx’s analysis of the value form in the light of Foucault. In addition, the relationship between Althusser and Foucault should be clarified.


This graduate seminar is not based on a set of fixed knowledge and, as such, is not based on a behavioral idea of education; rather, we will try to learn together and critically examine the material.

Required Texts

  • Foucault, The Punitive Society
  • Foucault, Discipline and Punish
  • Foucault, Power/Knowledge
  • Foucault, Essential Works, Vol 3
  • Althusser, On the Reproduction of Capitalism (Verso)
  • Marx, Capital, Vol 1 (Penguin edition, please!)
  • other texts via pdf

Online Ressources

  • Check this site out for texts: Monoskop
  • Foucault audio archive at Berkeley
  • Audio files on Ubuweb (including the 1983 lecture on the “Culture of the Self”)

Course Requirements

  • 2 protocols, write-up, up to 900 words, 10%
  • 2 oral presentations + brief write-ups, 20-30 minutes, 20%
  • Final paper, conference style, 10-12 pages, 70%
  • Regular participation, you are expected to attend every week (excuses are always possible)

Protocol (German tradition)

The class protocol should cover our discussion in class. Protocols should have a length of 2-3 pages (no more than 900 words), and they will in and outside of the classroom force us to have an ongoing reflection on our texts that we study for class. They can also include problems or questions that the writers had either with our class discussion or with the texts itself, but above all protocols should cover what we lectured about and what we discussed afterwards. Protocols should clarify and discuss selected issues in question. Protocols have to be sent out to other students two days before class. We’ll radically mark down late turn ins. The student who wrote the protocol will address questions during the first 15 minutes of the next class meeting, and he/she will lead the class discussion.


Each student will be responsible for one class and for working out an introductory presentation, which should function as a platform for our discussions. Please focus on one or two aspects of the readings; desired length of presentations: no more than 20-25 minutes. Please distribute a brief write-up/overview of what you will be talking about three days before class.

General Remark

Given that this is a graduate seminar, I expect self-motivation, autonomy, as well as self-responsibility. The attendance requires the willingness to intensively study the texts selected for class.

Final Paper

The class essay should be well researched and should present a substantial reflection on some parts of the material discussed in class. I expect excellent papers in regard to research, form, and content. I will fail papers that do not comply with formal standards (footnotes, literature, etc.). The paper should be accompanied by an abstract of no more than 150 words. The paper should be “conference style,” i.e., it should have a length of around 12 pages.


I will refuse giving DFs in this class, unless you find yourself in a real emergency situation (hospitalization, etc.)

Course Evaluation


1 final paper (up to 3600 words) 70 points
2 oral presentations + 2 write ups (up to 600 words) 20 points
2 protocols 10 points (pass/fail)
100 points


4.0 (=A) 100 – 93
3.5 92 – 87
3 (=B) 86 – 82
2.5 81 – 77
2 (=C) 76 – 72
1.5 71 – 65
1.0 (=D) 64 – 60
0.0 < 60

GENERIC SYLLABUS (might not be applicable to each class)

Laptop/Cell Phone/Tablet Policy

You are not permitted to use laptops or cell phones in class, unless needed for medical reasons. Flat devices, such as tablets, are permitted if you have purchased the literature required for class electronically. Please do not text under the table. Cell phones should be removed from tables. Failure to follow this policy will lead to unannounced assignments in class or loss of points (at the digression of the instructor).

Class Attendance

As mentioned above, I do not employ in my classes a class attendance policy. Having said this, you should be aware that class attendance is very important. When engaging in a philosophical and humanistic dialogue it is necessary to be an active and present participant in the ongoing discussion. If you miss class please do not email me asking if you missed anything important. Every class is important. You should get a study buddy for the class; a student in class who will inform you of what you missed. If you miss a class you can come to my office hours or make an appointment to discuss the material, providing you have read the material and you simply want to see if your understanding of the material is on target. Time in office hours will not be used to repeat the class lectures.

Grading Criteria + Paper Writing Tips

Check out this page for grading criteria, example of assignments, etc.

Online Research Sources

Unfortunately, some people think that the internet as such is a reliable source of information. If you decide to use online sources for additional information or your paper then do not just use one of the common internet search engines, such as Google; rather, use reliable academic sources, such as Britannica Online, or the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. The Internet Ecyclopedia of Philosophy isn’t very good, but still acceptable. Check out MSU’s library resources! And, as with other sources, you must cite any online sources to which you refer in your essay.

Writing Center Information

MSU’s writing center offers excellent help on all matters regarding writing and learning. Check the website at http://writing.msu.edu for an overview and hours. For more information, please call 517.432.3610 or send an e-mail to writing@msu.edu.

Grief Absence Policy

I follow MSU’s general grief absence policy, which can be found here.

Integrity of Scholarship and Grades (Plagiarism)

The following statement of University policy addresses principles and procedures to be used in instances of academic dishonesty, violations of professional standards, and falsification of academic or admission records, herein after referred to as academic misconduct. [See General Student Regulation 1.00, Protection of Scholarship and Grades.]

Academic Honesty

Article 2.3.3 of the Academic Freedom Report states that “The student shares with the faculty the responsibility for maintaining the integrity of scholarship, grades, and professional standards.” In addition, the (insert name of unit offering course) adheres to the policies on academic honesty as specified in General Student Regulations 1.0, Protection of Scholarship and Grades; the all-University Policy on Integrity of Scholarship and Grades; and Ordinance 17.00, Examinations. (See Spartan Life: Student Handbook and Resource Guide and/or the MSU Web site: www.msu.edu) Therefore, unless authorized by your instructor, you are expected to complete all course assignments, including homework, lab work, quizzes, tests and exams, without assistance from any source. You are expected to develop original work for this course; therefore, you may not submit course work completed for another course to satisfy the requirements for this course. Students who violate MSU rules may receive a penalty grade, including but not limited to a failing grade on the assignment or in the course. Contact your instructor if you are unsure about the appropriateness of your course work. (See also https://www.msu.edu/~ombud/)

Plagiarism, from the Ombudsman’s page

Plagiarism (from the Latin plagiarius, an abductor, and plagiare, to steal) is defined by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy on Misconduct in Research (take that!) as “ . . . the appropriation of another person’s ideas, processes, results or words without giving appropriate credit.”

Accidental or Unintentional
One may not even know that they are plagiarizing.  It is the student’s responsibility to make certain that they understand the difference between quoting and paraphrasing, as well as the proper way to cite material.

Here, students are well aware that they are plagiarizing.  Purposefully using someone else’s ideas or work without proper acknowledgment is plagiarism.  This includes turning in borrowed or bought research papers as one’s own.

Turning in the same term paper (or substantially the same paper) for two courses without getting permission from one’s instructor is plagiarism.

SIRS Evaluations

Michigan State University takes seriously the opinion of students in the evaluation of the effectiveness of instruction and has implemented the Student Instructional Rating System (SIRS) to gather student feedback (https://sirsonline.msu.edu). This course utilizes the online SIRS system, and you will receive an e-mail during the last two weeks of class asking you to fill out the SIRS web form at your convenience. In addition, participation in the online SIRS system involves grade sequestration, which means that the final grade for this course will not be accessible on STUINFO during the week following the submission of grades for this course unless the SIRS online form has been completed. Alternatively, you have the option on the SIRS website to decline to participate in the evaluation of the course. We hope, however, that you will be willing to give us your frank and constructive feedback so that we may instruct students even better in the future. If you access the online SIRS website and complete the online SIRS form or decline to participate, you will receive the final grade in this course as usual once final grades are submitted.

Social Media and Sharing of Course Materials

As members of a learning community, students are expected to respect the intellectual property of course instructors. All course materials presented to students are the copyrighted property of the course instructor and are subject to the following conditions of use:

  1. Students may record lectures or any other classroom activities and use the recordings only for their own course-related purposes.
  2. Students may share the recordings with other students enrolled in the class. Sharing is limited to using the recordings only for their own course-related purposes.
  3. Students may post the recordings or other course materials online or distribute them to anyone not enrolled in the class with the advance written permission of the course instructor and, if applicable, any students whose voice or image is included in the recordings.
  4. Any student violating the conditions described above may face academic disciplinary sanctions.

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities

Students with disabilities should contact the Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities to establish reasonable accommodations. For an appointment with a counselor, call 353-9642 (voice) or 355-1293 (TTY)

Drops and Adds

The last day to add this course is the end of the first week of classes. The last day to drop this course with a 100 percent refund and no grade reported is (see Academic Calendar). The last day to drop this course with no refund and no grade reported is (see Academic Calendar). You should immediately make a copy of your amended schedule to verify you have added or dropped this course.

Note on Attendance

Students who fail to attend the first four class sessions or class by the fifth day of the semester, whichever occurs first, may be dropped from the course.

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