Foucault, Subjectivity, and Identity: Historical Constructions of Subject and Self
Although the writings of Foucault have had tremendous impact on contemporary thinking about subjectivity, notions of the subject have a considerable history. In Foucault, Subjectivity and Identity Robert Strozier examines ideas of subject and self that have developed throughout western thought. He expands Foucault's idea of the subject as historically determined into a wide-ranging treatment of ideas of subjectivity, extending from those expressed by the ancient Sophists to notions of the subject at the end of the twentieth century.
Strozier examines these traditions against the background of Foucault's work, especially Foucault's later writings on the history of self-relation and the subject and his idea of historical subjectivity in general. Strozier explores various periods of western thought, notably the Hellenistic era, the early Italian Renaissance, and the seventeenth century, to show that almost every treatment of subjectivity is related to the Sophist idea of the originating Subject.
Drawing on a wide spectrum of writings -- by Epicurus and Seneca, Petrarch and Montaigne, Dickens and Conrad, Freud and Judith Butler -- Strozier analyzes particular historical moments during which subjectivity becomes a crucial issue, or when a particular construction of the subject is established. He shows that these moments are important both to western thought about the subject and to what we are as subjects at the present time.
Strozier's book brings literature, literary theory, history, and philosophy into close relation. It opens a new phase of the debate about subjectivity that will prove stimulating reading for scholars in these fields.
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