Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Sebastian Rand - Committee Chair

Second Advisor

Andrew J. Cohen - Committee Member

Third Advisor

Jessica Berry - Committee Member

Fourth Advisor

Vincent Lloyd - Committee Member


This thesis argues for a new understanding of criticism in Foucauldian genealogy based on the role played by the values of Michel Foucault’s audience in motivating suspicion. Secondary literature on Foucault has been concerned with understanding how Foucault’s works can be critical of cultural practices in the contemporary West when his accounts take the form of descriptive history. Commentaries offered heretofore have been insufficient for explaining the basis of Foucault’s criticism of cultural practices because they have failed to articulate the relation of the genealogist to her present normative context—the social and political values and goals that, in part, define the position of the genealogist within her culture. This thesis shows why previous accounts are insufficient for explaining Foucauldian genealogical critique, and it argues for a simple alternative warranted by Foucault’s writing.

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