I'm Strand Sheldahl-Thomason. I earned my Ph.D. in Philosophy and Literature from Purdue University in 2018. I am currently a Limited Term Lecturer in the Philosophy Program at Purdue University Fort Wayne. I teach Ethics, Environmental Ethics, and Ethics and Animals there. I live on the Oregon coast with my partner Lauren Mallett. I spend my free time disc golfing, mountain biking, mushroom hunting, or working on my woodpile. You can find a link to my CV above.
My dissertation is called "Discourse, Documents, and Counter-Discipline: Michel Foucault's Ethics and the Practice of Writing." It examines the role that writing as an ethical practice plays in Michel Foucault’s work, and analyzes in particular the ways that writing can transform the structure of experience. For Foucault, discourse, power, and subjectivity make up three poles in the structure of experience. Writing promotes the transformation of discourse and the production of knowledge (literature; scientific articles; scholarly books); it documents the control of bodies and allows power to function (files; medical, legal, and psychiatric records; archives); and in documenting the self (diaries; letters; notebooks) it opens the self to knowledge of itself and makes the self an object of others’ knowledge. The importance of the latter function is central to Foucault’s ethics, and it amounts to co-opting a technology of power and turning it to counter-disciplinary ends. Self-writing takes the self as it emerges from discourse and power and works toward new social possibilities.
My most recent work has been connecting Foucault's ethics to environmental philosophy. Foucault’s efforts at de-subjectivation make him a kindred spirit to the deep ecologists, but a Foucaultian approach to environmentalism avoids the problem of thinking of the cosmos as a kind of super-subject. In fact, Foucault's approach to discourse and the study of social systems aligns him with ecologists who see ecosystems as random systems in which only the previous state of the system determines the next state. For such ecologists there is no talk of ecosystems being oriented toward self-preservation. Some deep ecologists think it makes no sense to identify our individual selves with such a system, but I contend that only in such a system are our selves and the environment actually mutually conditioning. As I understand it, deep ecologists advocate a fundamental passivity in relation to the environment. A Foucaultian environmentalism, by contrast, would advocate a friendship with nature that does not assign us the role of merely becoming passive.
Foucault and the History of Philosophy
An ongoing project for me is considering Foucault's relation to other figures in the history of philosophy. My chapter, "Time and the Untimely: Deleuze, Foucault, and the Production of the New" will appear in Deleuze and Time forthcoming from Edinburgh University Press. I am beginning to research a paper considering Foucault and Kierkegaard as well.
Recent and Upcoming Publications and Presentations
My book, Michel Foucault and the Ethics of Writing, is under review with Edinburgh University Press.
My article "Foucault and the Use of Exposure" appears in Volume 19, Issue 3 of Review of Communication. In the article I draw heavily from my dissertation research to argue that the concept of exposure is in fact crucial for understanding Foucault's ethics.
I will present a paper called "Towards a Foucaultian Environmentalism" at the 2021 meeting of the Foucault Circle in Copenhagen, Denmark in June.
My chapter, "Time and the Untimely: Deleuze, Foucault, and the Production of the New" will appear in Deleuze and Time forthcoming from Edinburgh University Press.
Disc Golf and Philosophy
I am putting together a book on disc golf and philosophy. This would be part of a popular culture and philosophy series. You can check out my blog post on the topic here: Disc Golf and Philosophy
Ph.D., Philosophy and Literature
University of Oregon
Robert D. Clark Honors College
B.A., Philosophy and History