The very first assigned readings for ‘Power and Society’ are taken from the vast output of philosopher, cultural historian, and literary critic Michel Foucault. Why Foucault? The answer is a fairly simple one: more than any post-modern thinker, it is arguably the work of Foucault that has most profoundly influenced scholarly discussions of the meaning, machinations, and implications of power over the last 30 years. Foucault addressed power in a number of texts and a number of different ways, offering thoughts of the following kind: he claimed that “in itself the exercise of power is not violence,” and emphasized that “power is exercised only over free subjects, and only insofar as they are free.” More importantly for our initial purposes in this class, Foucault noted (in “The Subject and Power”) that “something called Power, with or without a capital letter. . . does not exist. Power only exists when it is put into action.” In his own unique way, Foucault is acknowledging the ambiguities and difficulties in even basically explaining and comprehending the mysterious forces of power in society. And it is partially with this kind of idea in mind that I would like students in this class to contribute to the first Blog posting of the term, in which you may feel free to utilize and play with the ideas of Foucault or simply provide us with your own unique perspectives. This time around, I want you to answer as best you see fit ONE of the following three questions, all of which variously engage with complexities of power as it presses upon us daily: Can (or should) power be distributed equally, or is it somehow necessary (or inevitable) that certain parties will have more power than others? How do individuals (or groups) gain power, and what are some of the most common ways they use that power? Finally, how might certain varieties/structures of power distort individuals’ consciousness of their societal place, their subjective situation in the face of authority?