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Foucault's History of Sexuality Volume I, The Will to Knowledge

An Edinburgh Philosophical Guide

Mark G. E. Kelly

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A step-by-step guide to Foucault's History of Sexuality Volume I, The Will to Knowledge

In the first volume of his History of Sexuality, The Will to Knowledge, Foucault weaves together the most influential theoretical account of sexuality since Freud. Mark Kelly systematically unpacks the intricacies of Foucault's dense and sometimes confusing exposition, in a straightforward way, putting it in its historical and theoretical context.

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Note on Texts
1. Historical Context
2. A Guide to the Text: Contesting the Repressive Hypothesis (Part One), The Explosion of Discourse (Part Two), The Confessional Science (Part Three), The Analytic of Power (Part Four, Chapters 1–2), The Distribution of Sexuality (Part Four, Chapters 3–4), Bio-Power (Part Five, first half), The Ontology of Sex (Part Five, second half)
3. Study Resources: Glossary, Further Reading, Answering Essay and Examination Questions

About the Author

Mark Kelly is the author of The Political Philosophy of Michel Foucault and Foucault’s History of Sexuality Volume I, The Will to Knowledge. He is Senior Lecturer at the University of Western Sydney.


A remarkably clear, concise, and comprehensive guide to one of Michel Foucault’s most important and influential books. Kelly reconstructs Foucault’s argument, situates it within its historical and intellectual context, and clarifies important matters of terminology and translation. An indispensable resource for students approaching Foucault’s text for the first time.

- Amy Allen, Dartmouth College

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