All posts tagged panopticism

For class today, you read Foucault’s Panopticism, which is a chapter out of his theoretical text Discipline and Punish. We worked through the very complicated theory piece by piece, first in small teams then as a class. We talked about the regimented nature of the plague town versus the conditions of the exiled leper colony. We discussed the key elements of Bentham’s prison, the Panopticon and the way Foucault uses that architectural structure as the basis for his theory on Panopticism.

We talked about the ways in which the structure of the Panopticon creates a power differential between the guards and the guarded and how that power dynamic based on fear can cause individuals within the system to police themselves, making the guards redundant (like in District 12, where individuals wouldn’t go outside the fence even though they were starving to death). We talked about how power needs to be visible but unverifiable to make this work and located examples in the YA dystopias we have read so far. Finally, we talked about the ways Panopticism presents itself in our digital age, the flaws in the system, and ways to undermine the power.

We will continue to return to this concept of the Panopticon throughout our dystopia readings and some of you may find it useful for your own research projects.


  1. Watch The 100 episodes 1, 2 & 5
  2. Read the Knickerbocker essay (available on TSquare in the resources folder)
  3. Look ahead to Monday night – Blog Post 3 will be due by 11:55pm