Rhetoric, Power, and Knowledge – Michel Foucault


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One of the things I want you to get out of the Foucault readings is the relationship of discourse to power — and
how that might shape how we think about the relationship of McKerrow reading and the textbook (pages
provided in the uploaded file) both use the classroom as an example of the inter-relation of power and
discourse. Rather than a response to power (as in “speaking truth to power”) discourse is a way that power is
enacted. In this assignment, take some time to consider what this means, and its implications for the public
Think about Foucault’s conceptions of power and discourse as they apply to the classroom. Both readings
discuss the formal and informal rules that structure discussion and what constitutes knowledge within the
classroom. In 2 paragraphs, tell me how these rules and the concept of power/knowledge (as described in
McKerrow) ask us to see the classroom. How does power operate in the classroom setting (using Foucault’s
definition of power, not the common sense one in which some people have power and some do not)? How
does this understanding of the relationship of discourse to power affect the way you think about the public
sphere? (It may help to remember that classroom was discussed like a mini-public sphere.)

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