The History of Sexuality, Volume 1: An Introduction

Foucault, Michel. The History of Sexuality, Volume 1: An Introduction. Translated by Robert Hurley. New York: Vintage Books, 1990.

In the first volume of the History of Sexuality: An Introduction (Histoire de la sexualité: La volonté de savoir), published in 1976 (English translation, 1978), Foucault explores and rejects the Freudian hypothesis that civilization represses our sexual natures. Instead, the “discursive explosion” about sexuality results in increased sexual incitement. As Foucault asks, “Why do we say, with so much passion and so much resentment against our most recent past, and against ourselves, that we are repressed. By what spiral did we come to affirm that sex is negated?” By arguing in this way, Foucault cast doubt on the value of so-called sexual liberation. However, this work is not only or primarily about the “monarchy” of sex. Foucault instead describes this project as a “re-elaboration of the theory of power” in its positive and negative effects.

Chris Barker


Google Books