Take home final (due Thursday, May 6)


General instructions: The final exam consists of two parts; the first part consists of a few short identifications of some of the key terms we’ve discussed in this class.  The second part consists of two short essays.  Please answer each question.  The final exam will be due to me on Thursday, May 6 by 2:00 in the afternoon.  I will be in my office (Eastman Theater, 402) between 1:00 and 2:00 on that day; you can give me your exams then.  You may also e-mail me your exam, and I will send you a confirmation e-mail.  If you do not receive a confirmation e-mail you must assume that I have not received your exam.  It is your responsibility to see to it that I get a copy of your exam.

I. Short identification (6 points each): for each of the following terms, write a 3-4 sentence identification.  Your purpose here is to identify the meaning of the term, explain its importance, and perhaps give an example that helps explain the term more fully.

  1. Genealogy (for Foucault)
  2. Biopower (for Foucault)
  3. Power (for Arendt)
  4. Authority (for Arendt)
  5. Briefly: what is the “juridico-discursive” conception of power and what is Foucault’s attitude toward it (pp. 85)?

II.  Short essay (30 points): Please answer the following question. 

Question 1 (2-3 pages):  What is the “repressive hypothesis” and how does Foucault challenge it?  Hint: in explaining Foucault’s challenges to the repressive hypothesis, it might be useful to categorize them; Foucault, for instance, challenges the historical accuracy of the repressive hypothesis, but he also rejects the conception of power at work in the repressive hypothesis.  It might be a good idea to explain both of these challenges.

III.  Short essay (30 points). Please select and answer ONE of the following questions:

Question 1 (2-3 pages): The original idea for the “initiative grade” in this class was to have you all engage in self-assessments.  That is, my original plan was to provide the criteria by which I will evaluate your performance on the initiative grade, and then to require each student to write a short essay explaining which grade they deserve, given this criteria.  In this essay, analyze and critically evaluate this sort of grading technique from the perspective of Foucault’s conception of biopower. 

Make sure you offer a clear understanding of Foucault’s concept of biopower.  Also, if you are inclined to say that the act of self-assessment is a path toward freedom, you’ll need to explain what you mean by freedom and how education/writing might lead us toward that end.  Here you may wish to draw upon some of the other theorists we’ve studied (for instance, Arendt or Marx).

Question 2 (2-3 pages): Explain and critically evaluate Arendt’s argument that increasing use of violence in the activity of governance actually increases the impotence of the political system rather than its power (cf. 54-56).  Develop an example that illustrates or challenges Arendt’s point.


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