Foucault News

News and resources on French thinker Michel Foucault (1926-1984)

Ahmad Mohammed Bani Salameh, Foucault’s Descending Individuation: The Unprivileged Under Panoptic Gaze in Shakespeare and Godwin, Dirasat: Human and Social Sciences, Vol 41, No 3 (2014)

Further info and link to full PDF


This paper presents new critical insights into two selected literary works from the English literature, Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure and William Godwin’s Caleb Williams, in light of Michel Foucault’s “descending individuation” in Discipline and Punish. Through the lens of this theory, this study illumines these writers’ scathing critique of “descending individuation” in their cultures in which surveillance of individuals goes in an inverse relationship with their socio-economic statuses-namely, the lower one’s social and economic station is, the more liable s/he becomes to panoptic gaze. This paper shows these authors’ dissatisfaction with the flawed justice system of their culture, because surveillance, usually a disciplinary law-enforcement strategy, could backfire if enforced in a descending, prejudiced fashion.


Foucault, Descending, Individuation, Disciplinary, Surveillance, Godwin, Shakespeare

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