Foucault and Sedgwick: The Repressive Hypothesis Revisited

Foucault Studies 14:20-40 (2012)
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This essay examines the Foucauldian foundations of queer theory in the work of Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick. The essay argues that Sedgwick’s increasing disappointment with Foucault’s critique of the repressive hypothesis is in part produced by the slippery rhetoric of The History of Sexuality, Vol. 1: An Introduction . Specifically, Foucault’s use of free indirect discourse in that volume destabilizes both the theory of repression and the critique Foucault mounts against it, thereby rendering ambiguous any political promise his critique might seem to offer. Returning to the fraught relation between Foucault and Sedgwick, the essay concludes by reading Foucault and Sedgwick together through the lens of a reparative ethics in which the felt experience of knowing the world is also an experiment in new ways of living



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