Knowledge and Power

HON 298 – Professor D.L. Stephenson

Modes of Inquiry: Textual Analysis, Historical and Sociocultural Analysis

Course Description:

Through the interdisciplinary study of institutions and organizations; human relationships; language, as it is broadly conceived; and theories about the links between knowledge and power, this course considers the ways in which what we know or call “knowledge” is intimately linked to what French Philosopher Michel Foucault terms “systems of power” and “power relations.” This interdisciplinary course engages the work of cultural theorists, philosophers, rhetoricians, and independent journalists, who examine the relationship(s) between knowledge and power. Foucault’s groundbreaking work functions as the foundation for considering “. . . the incarceration of human beings within modern systems of thought and practice which [have] become so intimately a part of them that they no longer [experience] these systems as a series of confinements but [embrace] them as the very structure of being human” (Bernauer and Rasmussen, 1988, p. 21). This course is intended to recognize and question what is and is not determined and defined as “knowledge” and how knowledge wields power and comes directly out of power relations. This course encourages the questioning of what constitutes knowledge and how certain ideas become official knowledge that appear as “common sense” and/or uphold a particular status quo or certain “power relations.” This course fulfills the Textual and Historical/Social-Cultural Mode of Inquiries.