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. My home is in Lafayette, Indiana. In addition to traveling for regional philosophy conferences, I am an avid disc-golfer. I play tournaments around the state with some regularity. You can find a link to my CV above, and a link to my publications below (as well as a link to my PDGA page).
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 research on Foucault has led me to the question of privacy. I am interested in what has led us to view privacy as we do now. Certainly privacy is a social good, but I argue that some forms of exposure may serve an equally important social purpose. In some cases privacy can further an impersonal institutional agenda, while exposure can challenge that agenda. My work on privacy is guided by the Foucaultian insight that surveillance fundamentally shapes us. Our collective aim should be to establish relations that shape us to new ends. To do this seems to require some degree of privacy, lest our social relations are co-opted by governments and corporations. What we ought to rethink is the nature of the information that we wish to protect, and the forms of the relationships that we wish to privilege.
Another project that I am at work on is connecting Foucault to environmentalism. I argue that Foucault has something to say to the deep ecology movement. Foucault’s efforts at de-subjectivation makes 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.
Disc Golf and Philosophy
I am hoping to edit a book on Disc Golf and Philosophy. This would be part of a Popular Culture and Philosophy series. To that end, I have written a blog post on the topic. Check it out here: https://andphilosophy.com/2020/08/28/disc-golf-and-philosophy/
Recent and Upcoming Publications and Presentations
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. This paper represents a new direction for my research. In it I put Foucault's ethics in conversation with deep ecological thought.
I presented a paper called "The Care of the Self as Exposure: Revisiting Michel Foucault's Ethics" at the Indiana Philosophical Association's Fall 2018 Meeting in Bloomington, IN. The paper draws from my dissertation research but also begins to approach the theme of privacy.
On March 30th, I presented a paper called "Reflections on Privacy" at Indiana's Bicentennial Inter-Campus Philosophy Conference In Kokomo, IN.
Ph.D., Philosophy and Literature
University of Oregon
Robert D. Clark Honors College
B.A., Philosophy and History