Abstract

Israa M Mahran
Foucault’s Panopticism in Eugene Zamiatin’s We and Dave Eggers’ The Circle
This thesis examines the rise and development of disciplinary power and its techniques as represented in Michel Foucault’s works with a focus on Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison (1975). Through Discipline and Punish, Foucault sheds light on an important model which was proposed in the eighteenth century by the English philosopher Jeremy Bentham. In 1791, Bentham devised a model of a penitentiary house, the “Panopticon”, which aimed at modifying its inmates’ behaviour through the use of the power of surveillance to impose discipline instead of using violence. Despite the fact that this prison model did not gain much fame at the time, Foucault manages to revive the panoptic model in Discipline and Punish. In his examination of the rise of disciplinary power and its techniques, Foucault uses the Panopticon as a metaphor to describe societies which depend on the use of surveillance as a disciplinary tool. The researcher uses the Panopticon metaphor to examine the effects of the use of disciplinary power and its techniques, especially surveillance, in Modern and postmodern societies and how they affect both the individual and the society. The panoptic model is applied on Soviet Russia during the rule of Vladimir Lenin and on the United States in our contemporary time. The effects of using of disciplinary power and its techniques in both societies are further clarified through examining two literary works which are based on their authors’ experiences in living in disciplinary societies: Eugene Zamiatin’s We (1924), which is based on his experience in living in Soviet Russia, and Dave Eggers’ The Circle (2013), which is based on his experience in living in contemporary America.