The Productive Hypothesis: Foucault, Gender, and the History of Sexuality

This article addresses Michel Foucault's challenge to historians by historicizing his work on the history of sexuality. First, it summarizes recent scholarly literature about sexuality by historians and literary critics in order to clarify the theoretical and historical groundwork that has thus far been laid. It also places interdisciplinary scholarship in a frame-work historians will find meaningful. Second, the essay argues that Foucault's work is the product of crises in male subjectivity originating after the Great War. In so doing, it seeks to explain the absence of gender as a category of analysis in his own work, as well as his inability to account for the historical processes through which sexuality is produced.