When Knowing Better is Not Enough: Experiencing Bodies, Feminist Critique, and Foucault

  • Author / Creator
    Dean, Megan A.
  • Motivated by the apparent ineffectiveness of feminist critiques to ameliorate my negative
    experiences of my body, this thesis investigates Michel Foucault’s understanding of experience and critique in an effort to explain this inefficacy. Caught between intuitions that my “stubborn” experiences were failures of epistemic capacity or willpower, I argue that a Foucauldian re-framing of this problem generates productive alternatives for thought and action. I present Foucault’s concept of experience as both historically constituted and open to intentional change through ethics. Using the notion of thought, I argue that critique can alter relations between the self and aspects of experience, making these aspects available to transformative ethical work. Given this account, I suggest that my original thoughts on “stubborn” experiences iterated a dominant yet problematic view of critique. To conclude, I bring these considerations to bear on the example of women’s bodybuilding as an ethical practice targeting experiences of women's bodies.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2012
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Arts
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Schmitter, Amy (Philosophy)
    • Taylor, Chloë (Philosophy, Women's Studies)
    • Meagher, Michelle (Women's Studies)