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Emergence of Sexuality: Foucault, Sexual Identities, and the Modern Self


In his groundbreaking study, The History of Sexuality: Volume 1, philosopher and historian Michel Foucault provocatively argued that the thing we call sexuality, the supposed essence of our sexual core, our desires, our selves, is in fact “a name that can be given to a historical construct.” In this Olio, we will discuss the significance of Foucault’s claim that sexuality is not an essential and fixed quality inherent to our being, but rather the result of historical shifts in power and knowledge. We will examine how and why it is we have come to think of sexuality as a “problem of truth,” as a secret to be revealed. 

We will look closely at the philosopher’s controversial claim that at the very moment we imagine sexuality as being repressed, driven under, made to hide, it was indeed “exploding,” “inciting,” and proliferating unto every aspect of human experience. We will also ask ourselves about the value of Foucault’s work for challenging our own ideas about our personal desires, our identity categories, and our cherished notions of the self.




Location: Strand Bookstore

828 Broadway, New York, NY 10003

The Rare Book Room at Strand Bookstore boasts an elegant venue for our Friday night residency.


Other upcoming Olios


Sep 25

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Taught by Whitney George
7:30 p.m. at Nowadays

Sign Up - $15

Sep 26

Olio Seminar | Words Shape Worlds: The Discourse of Courtrooms

Taught by Maureen Matarese
7:30 p.m. at Living Room

Sign Up - $40

Sep 28

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Taught by Charles Riley
7 p.m. at Strand Bookstore

Sign Up - $20

Sep 29

OlioHouse Weekend | Afrofuturism & Herbalism

Taught by Makeba Lavan
noon at OlioHouse | Wassaic, NY

Sign Up - $75

Sep 29

The Coded, the Woven, and the Spoken

Taught by Sofi Thanhauser
4 p.m. at Mana Contemporary

Sign Up - $0

Oct 9

Olio Seminar | The New Deadly Sins

Taught by Jeanne Proust
7 p.m. at Nowadays

Sign Up - $40

Oct 12

Communities and Their Pitfalls

Taught by Jeanne Proust
7 p.m. at Strand Bookstore

Sign Up - $20


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