On Foucault and Orgasms


Sand Avidar-Walzer recently took to the pages of the Los Angeles Review of Books to discuss Annamarie Jagose’s latest book “Orgasmology.” The book follows in the tradition of Foucault in “The History of Sexuality” to elucidate how science and power have created a discourse of the orgasm.

Avidar-Walzer writes:

The complex question Jagose asks throughout the book — the genealogical question — is: how do we describe the mechanisms by which the clinical gaze distinguishes the normal from the pathological? In building her genealogy, Jagose is consistently attentive to the ways in which bodies and our knowledge of them are located not within the logic of normalcy and perversion, but at the very discursive junction where the work of defining normativity takes place. By attending to the ways in which various cultural discourses understand the relation between normativity and the orgasm (examples range from fist-fucking, queer theory’s perpetual problem child, to Masters & Johnson), Jagose shows how a single object of inquiry is attributed different values in different contexts.

Read the full review in the LA Review of Books.