The Duck of Minerva

The Duck Quacks at Twilight

Light Dawns on Marble Head

July 6, 2005

I’ve already made myself look stupid once today, so I figure: why not have another go?

When I was a PhD student at Columbia, I taught in the Contemporary Civilization program. Teaching in CC was, without a doubt, the best experience of my educational career. Not only was it just generally a good time – getting to know students, getting to watch them develop over an entire year, teaching the “classics” – but it gave me an excuse to reread important works in social and political theory every year. Now I mostly teach “intro to IR” and the occasional IR theory class, so it is extremely rare that I actually have the time to, say, read The Origin of the Species with a fresh eye.

This summer, though, I’ve been giving a tutorial in basic political theory, so I’ve gotten some (limited) opportunity to look at some classics again. We’re currently wrapping up the course with The Genealogy of Morals. Thus, my “duh, Barbie” moment….

I had totally forgotten just how much Discipline and Punish is, in essence, an extended riff on the second essay of Genealogy. I certainly got Foucault’s evocation of Nietzsche’s “genealogical method,” but I can’t believe how much I missed the substantive similarities.

I’m sure someone is now going to point out numerous places where Foucault draws the parallels himself, leaving me doubly chagrined.

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Daniel H. Nexon is a Professor at Georgetown University, with a joint appointment in the Department of Government and the School of Foreign Service. His academic work focuses on international-relations theory, power politics, empires and hegemony, and international order. He has also written on the relationship between popular culture and world politics.