Lecture: Foucault and Sexual Freedom

Russell House lecture tonight with Jana Sawicki, Professor of Philosophy and Women’s Studies at Williams College. Part of this semester’s Center of the Humanities lecture series on human nature:

In an interview conducted just before his death in 1984, Michel Foucault suggested that homosexual activists might advance sexual freedom by turning away from the discourse of sex-desire and exploring the possibilities opened up within an ethics of pleasure. Cultivating pleasure, he claimed, was more likely to enhance sexual freedom than appeals to the trope of “desiring man.”

Professor Sawicki asks, what is the ontological status of the pleasures that Foucault invokes? Why turn to an ethics of pleasure? Finally, why refuse the discourse of desire? Insofar as queer theorists (Judith Butler, Leo Bersani, Michael Warner) rely heavily upon psychoanalytic theory, they appear to have rejected Foucault’s sustained critique of the discourse of desire. Are there good reasons to be wary of this reliance upon psychoanalytic thought? Or, must we burn Foucault?

Date: Monday, November 3
Time: 8-9:30 pm
Place: Russell House – Millett Room, free

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