Select a narrative “text” that either includes some element of surveillance (though this theme need not be explicit), or that participates in surveillance. Some examples are reality TV shows (Big Brother, Survivor, Naked and Afraid, Jersey Shore, etc), movies (V for Vendetta, Fight Club), songs (“Santa Claus is Coming to Town”), books (The Hunger Games, 1984), graphic novels, shorts, or documentaries, or even individual characters.
In considering this text, you should begin your discussion by defining for yourself Foucault’s argument, locating moments where it is clearest for you and using those moments to focus your analysis of your chosen text. Specifically, in considering this narrative, ask yourself: how might Foucault apply his concepts (ex, of self-surveillance) to this text? For example: What “seeing machines” (233) or mechanisms that Foucault describes in “Panopticism” are present within your text, and how do they function? How do people internalize or “inscribe” in themselves “the power relation in which [they] simultaneously play both roles” and “become the principle of [their] own subjection” (230)?
Once you’ve discussed the parts of “Panopticism” that are salient to you, you have two options:
Apply your discussion of “Panopticism” to your selected text, analyzing it through the lens of Foucault. In doing so, consider what your analysis reveals about surveillance, discipline, and/or punishment in society. How does looking at your text through Foucault reveal something new about society—specifically about surveillance, discipline, and/or punishment? What new observation can you make about surveillance, discipline, and/or punishment by applying Foucault to your chosen text? Why does it matter?
Apply your discussion of “Panopticism” to your selected text, analyzing it as a movie or television show. In other words, consider what “Panopticism” reveals about movies and/or television as mediums. How does looking at the medium of movies and/or television through Foucault’s discussion reveal something about how movies and television function? What new observation can you make about movies and/or television by applying Foucault to your chosen text? Why does it matter?
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