Dr. Patrick Ryan

Daily Exercises

For the Canadian Students, marking in this course is based on two things:  engagement with the exchange (in discussion, lecture, and socially) and the completion of daily exercises associated with the readings, explained and outlined below.

What are the daily exercises and why are we doing them?

1) Sometime prior to each afternoon seminar (and it can be well prior), submit through OWL the completion of exercises that correspond to each of the 8 discussion sessions

2) We will utilize these exercises in the discussion sessions, so you will have to be able to access them in class (in both Sweden and Canada).  This may require some printing, depending on your connectivity.

3) Circulating the exercises electronically and completing them before discussion will require work from you, but they will also help you digest challenging ideas. 

4) I hope the exercises will prompt you to read and prepare, assist you with comprension of new concepts, support our discussions, relieve you from having to carry around a journal, and me from having to haul them back to Canada and return them to you.

The 8 preparatory exercises should be submitted through OWL. 

Exercise 1 - Welcome to Philosophical Rigour - Due prior to discussion on Monday May 14

A. Read T. May, Chapter 1, pgs. 1-23.

B. Write and Bring 2 questions of your own.

C. Prepare answers for these questions and bring them to discussion.

1. If we believe May, all of the following bodies of thought provide an answer to the question "Who are we?": Christianity, Enlightenment Rationalism (Decartes), Marxism (Marx), Psycho-Analysis (Freud), 20c Existentialism (Sarte).  For each of these 5 try to write a single phrase that summarizes what they say we are.

2. Who does Foucault say we are?  (pgs. 16-21)

3. May comments on MF's concept of power-knowledge on pages 20-21; can you name a practice where adults are positioned as knowing subjects and children as subjects of knowledge?  Can you think of one where children are seen as the knowing subjects and adults the subjects of knowledge?

Exercise 2 -  What is an Archaeology of Knowledge? - Due prior to discussion on Tuesday May 15

A. Read T. May pgs. 24-43.

B. Write and Bring 2 questions of your own.

C. Prepare answers for these questions and bring them to discussion.

1. On page 26, P2-3 (lines 10-29) May summarizes Foucault's ground-breaking approach to insanity and reason in Madness and Civilization.  In these lines, replace the words 'madness' and/or 'disease of this,' with versions of "childhood" or "child" as grammatically appropriate.  Then, reread the paragraphs.  Are you familiar with these sorts of claims about childhood, and if so - what do you think of them?

2. Rereading the now transformed paragraphs on pg. 26 (with childhood substituted for madness), do you think the Foucault of MC would accept a study of childhood if we defined it as: an attempt to uncover what it is (or was) like to experience childhood - revealing the perspective of children?  If no, try to rewrite this statement of inquiry (above in italics) to make it more consistent with early Foucauldian thought.

3. Go to pages 38-39; the object of archaeology is 'discourse,' which May tells us is neither defined by conscious agreement (the intentions of individual heroes or villains), nor is it merely competing opinions (the claims of individuals).  If discourse is not framed by intentions or opinions, what shapes it?

Exercise 3 - Discourses of Childhood - Due prior to discussion on Wednesday May 16

A. Read T. May pgs. 44-60 and P. Ryan "How New ?" 

B. Compose one question for May and one question for Ryan.

C. Prepare answers for these questions and bring them to discussion.

1. What terms in your vocabulary might be related to Foucauldian words "episteme" or "discursive formation"?  (See May, pg. 44; Ryan, pg. 554) 

2. On pages 45-47, May introduces Foucault's argument that a search for 'resemblances' structured knowledge during the 14c-16c.  He explains that during this period, "the language that articulates the world is also of the order of the world; they are inseparable in the Renaissance episteme."  Within this episteme, things are signs, and signs are things.  Words were not merely tools used by human subjects to represent things and things were not merely speechless objects waiting for us to assign meaning to them - the world was animated with and formed by an intelligence (a logos) from the beginning.  But, this way of knowing was transformed in the early modern period; words and things become "separated, when the working of language is no longer of a piece with the cosmos, the Renaissance episteme has given way to the classical (17c-18c) one." (May, pg. 47).  Over the next several pages (48-52), May tries to explain some very complex parts of OT.  He tells us that through two epistemic transitions (from the 14c to the e19c) there was a "slackening of the bonds of representation [that] corresponds to two spaces of depth, one on the side of the sign or the observer, the other on the side of the object."  As a consequence there is a new play between "the object to be known and the subject who acts." (pg. 52) 

Now, turn your attention to Figure 2, LMC, Ryan pg. 558; also explained in the Althouse interview.  How might the discursive structure of modern childhood as diagrammed by Ryan be related to (or exemplify) the opening up of the epistemic spaces of modernity as described by Foucault (and summarized in May, pgs. 45-52)?

3) On page 54 and 55, May comments on the antagonism between Foucault's historical analyses of human sciences and the universal claims of these sciences.  Think about this antagonism in terms of the discourses of childhood.  What might historicising modern responses to questions about 'who children are' do to the way we think about and live with these responses?  [e.g. the bodies of thought and practice that position children as (i) products of conditioning, (ii) sources of authenticity, (iii) developing organisms, (iv) competent agents]

Exercise 4 - Knowing Subjects & Subjects of Knowledge - Due prior to discussion on Thursday May 17

A. Read P. Ryan, "The 'government of heroic women', and Watch BBC - Our World "Norway: Parents Against the State."

B. Compose one question for Ryan and one comment for the video documentary.

C. Prepare answers for these questions and bring them to discussion.

1) Borge Tomter (representing Barnevernet) made two types of defenses, what were they and in what ways are these defenses relevant for the critique offered by Norwegian psychologist Einar Salvesen (writer of the expert letter)?

2) Name two or three discursive practices highlighted in Ryan's depiction of family investigation in the L19-E20C.  Which of these practices are part of the BBC short documentary on Barnevernet?

3) Name an example from your own life where you may have experienced a disciplinary practice or witnessed something like the "the spiral of reflexivity" (Ryan, 14) in schools, camps, hospitals, clinics, or any other therapeutic environment. 

Exercise 5 - Genealogy - Due prior to discussion on Monday May 28

A. Read May, pgs. 61-84

B. Write and Bring 2 questions of your own.

C. Prepare answers for these questions and bring them to discussion.

1) On pages 73-76 May discusses the concept of discipline in relation to the birth of the prison. What are the three central aspects of disciplinary training and how are these related to schooling and to the productivity of power?

2) What does it mean to say that the role of the body has changed "from being a site of pain to being a site of normalization" (May, page 77)?

3) On pages 81-85 May outlines some differences between the traditional (liberal) view of power and a Foucauldian understanding of power. What are these (connect with May's five theses of power)? 

Exercise 6 – A Value Work - Due prior to discussion on Tuesday May 29

A. Read T. May Chapter 3, 85-95; Qvarsebo & Axelsson, “Lutherans, Value People or US Citizens: The Ever Present Dream of the Good Citizen.”

B. Write and Bring a question on each of the readings

C. Prepare answers for these questions and bring them to discussion.

1) What are some of the practices or projects that make-up Swedish “foundation of values work,” and what historical comparison do Axelsson and Qvarsebo draw to shed light on these practices and programs?  What is your response to the connection they draw?

2) On pages 86-88 May discusses the repressive hypothesis. What is the “repressive hypothesis,” and how is it questioned by Foucault?

3) Discuss key differences between Foucault's disciplinary power and his notion of bio-power. How do these concepts relate to one another?  And, how might these concepts of power (in contrast to the ‘traditional’ one (q6, discussion 5) alter the way we approach questions like:  who are we?  who might we become?

Exercise 7 – Ethical Subjects - Due prior to discussion on Wednesday May 30

A. Read T. May Chapter 4, 96-109; Dahlbeck, J. (2014) “Hope and Fear in Education for Sustainable Development”, Critical Studies in Education 55(2).

B. Compose one question for May and one for Dahlbeck.

C. Prepare answers for these questions and bring them to discussion.

1) How does Foucault's interest in the care of the self differ from his earlier genealogical project on sexuality? (May discusses three changes on pages 97-99)

2) Define the term problematization in the Foucauldian sense, and distinguish it from obligations, prohibitions and interdictions (May, pages 103-104).  How has the Swedish discourse on sustainable development ethically “problematized” the earth or consumption or technology?  Can you name examples? 

3) Dahlbeck offers examples such as the “advertising no-thanks” sign-making project, and other seemingly “open-ended questions and what in a given context appear to be more less pre-determined answers” (pg. 12).  Why might such paradoxical pedagogical practices exist and what might they produce? 

Respond to the above question in light of the readings we have had to this point in the course.  Make a note that considers the question in terms of at least three of these five: (i) Foucault's 5 theses on power (May, 82-85); (ii) Ryan’s discursive structure of modern childhood (Ryan, 2008, 558); Ryan's (2017) arguments about discipline and the 'spiral of reflexivity'; (iii) Axelsson's and Qvarsebo's analogue between Lutheran catechism and doing 'a value work,' (iv) what Dahlbeck calls the "functions of hope and fear for governing human behavior" (Dahlbeck, 160-162).

Exercise 8 – Foucauldian Ethics - Due prior to discussion on Thursday May 31

A. Read: T. May Chapter 4, 109-125 

B. Compose one question for May and one for Michel Foucault.

C. Prepare answers for these questions and bring them to discussion.

1) What distinguishes the ancient Greek understanding of freedom, discussed by May on pages 111-112, from a more contemporary understanding of freedom?

2) How can we describe the ancients’ relation to the truth and how is this different from the relation of modern science to truth?

3) How can Foucault’s own ethics be characterized? Insofar as “the project of living otherwise” (May, page 120) hints at a normative project for Foucault, how is this normative project different from other – more dominant – normative projects? How can we describe Foucault’s notion of freedom?