English 177

Literature and Philosophy: Surveillance, Paranoia, and State Power

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Spring 2018 Saha, Poulomi
TTh 9:30-11 Note new location: 204 Wheeler

Book List

Foucault, Michel: Discipline and Punish; Masters , John: The Deceivers; Orwell, George: 1984


This course examines the long, intimate relationship between technologies of surveillance and the making of British and American empires. While digital technology and state surveillance has been significant in the post-9/11 world, identifying, monitoring, and tracking populations and individuals has been central to the consolidation of state power for much longer. We will consider the development of technologies such as photography, fingerprinting, biometrics, and aerial drones in the context of their imbrication with imperial governance. Beginning in the late 19th century to the contemporary moment, this course will track the shifting forms that surveillance and the state take from the decline of British colonialism to the rise of American empire. It will look to South Asia, the Phillippines, North America, and the Middle East to ask how discourses of security, risk, and vulnerability have rationalized state policies of containment and scrutiny on the one hand, and justified and catalyzed the expansion of imperial power on the other.

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