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Discipline and Punish shattered the way many of us thought about punishment and modern society and, for many years, served as one leading optic through which we analyzed penal practices and institutions. The book functioned as a quintessential work in critical theory: it lifted the veil from our eyes, it enlightened us, it fundamentally changed the way we understood contemporary punishment practices. Michel Foucault had shown the lie: we were not punishing less or in a more civilized manner, it turns out, we were punishing better. Our cherished enlightenment thinkers had not tamed punishment, they had perfected it—and this raised the larger question, at the very heart of Foucault’s enterprise, of how it was exactly that we had come to believe that progress narrative in the punishment field. It turned our attention to the issues of veridiction: of how dominant beliefs become, well, dominant, and at what price.

Recommended Citation

Dilts, Andrew, and Bernard Harcourt. “Discipline, Security and Beyond: a Brief Introduction” Carceral Notebooks 4 (2008): 1-6.