Foucault: The Birth of Power Update 2 – work on early period at the Collège de France and another visit to the Bibliothèque Nationale

Foucault’s Last Decade is now being copy-edited, with a view to proofs in the autumn and hopefully publication in April. I worked with the same copy-editor for Sloterdijk Now. It’s always good to hear that the text I submitted is seen as ‘well-written and polished’, since it decreases the work for everyone involved.

With the book on the earlier period, I’ve mainly been working on the Introduction and Chapter One over the past couple of weeks, along with another visit to the Bibliothèque Nationale (BnF).

In terms of writing, one of the tasks was developing a longer reading of Foucault’s inaugural lecture, ‘The Order of Discourse’. It’s not clear from this short text what was actually delivered in the lecture on 2 December 1970, and what was added from the manuscript at a later date. But it’s a fascinating text. I also returned to “Titres et travaux”, his 1969 presentation of his previous work and future agenda for the post at the Collège de France. The most recent French edition of Didier Eribon’s biography has some other documents relating to this process. All very interesting, and while the 1970-71 course Lectures on the Will to Know delivers on some of what is promised, from Théories et institutions pénales onwards Foucault took his work in really quite distinct directions.

BNFI have also spent five days in Paris, again working at the BnF. There is a lot of material now available. Because I am concentrating on the 1969-75 period, this gives me a focus for what material I’m looking at. The manuscripts for some of the Collège de France courses are available, but I’ve decided that, for the moment at least, I will not be comparing the published versions with the manuscripts. In any case, for two of the courses from the period, the published course is based directly on the manuscript, and for one other it is based on a transcript made at the time that Foucault corrected. There are no tapes for any of the first three courses. Unless I thought there were errors of transcription, there would be little to gain, aside from the interest in seeing the manuscript itself. But I’ve now read a few thousand pages of Foucault’s handwriting, and the appeal is wearing off… For Psychiatric Power it might be worth looking at the manuscript, since that text was edited on the basis of transcribed recordings, and quite early in the process – before such extensive quotation from the manuscript became the editorial norm.

What I did instead was spend several days looking at Foucault’s preliminary reading notes for his early Collège de France lecture courses, and at several boxes of notes towards Surveiller et punir. I found some interesting things in all these, and plan to say a bit more about them when I talk on the 1971-72 course in Nottingham in just a couple of weeks. For Surveiller et punir the best way I can describe it is like taking the back off a clock…

I also worked through what are filed as his notes for a 1969 course at Vincennes, with the fascinating title ‘Freud, sexualité, Folie’ but the notes are non-systematic and there is no sign of the manuscript of the course in the available files. Filed here, though not necessary part of the same project, are some quite detailed notes on heredity. This was a potential project mentioned by Foucault several times around 1969-70, but which he abandons, suggesting that François Jacob had already done the work (see my earlier comments on this here). I’d written a bit about this before, but I’m glad I held it back for this book as this new material really helps with how it can be discussed.

The filing system for the materials is unclear: notes for books appear in boxes 1-5, 31, 34-36; for courses in boxes 32, 6-10; and then there are thematic notes in boxes 11-23, 27-28. 17 is missing from the catalogue. Early notes from the 1950s are in boxes 33 and 37-38. Material relating to seminars and related publications is in boxes 24-26. Boxes 40ff are not listed, though I may know what is in box 58. The categories ‘Cours au Collège de France’ and for ‘Correspondence’ appear in the catalogue, but their contents and box numbers are not listed, with the exception of the file for Théories et institutions pénales.

More importantly, the headings for each box are sometimes vague and at times misleading. I found notes from the late 1960s/early 1970s in with notes from the 1950s, and thematic ordering fits better with how Foucault organised his files. It would be difficult to date precisely any single note, since Foucault used roughly the same style of note taking from early to late, though he seems to switch size of paper from A5 to A4 in the early 1970s. We can sometimes be sure of an approximate date from the relation of notes to published materials or datable lectures; but I would ideally like to work the other way round – use the notes to help indicate when the preparatory work for lectures or publications was undertaken.

The notes are sometimes enclosed in a folded sheet of paper, to make thematic subdivisions, and those papers are often recycled from something else. These are generally not marked, but can be interesting – draft pages of his own manuscripts; several pages from a prospectus for a complete works on Bataille, a flyer for a demonstration in support of a student facing disciplinary action, the programme of a cultural event in Sweden, etc. In the notes relating to Surveiller et punir there are some manuscript pages, sometimes double-sided, which appear to be drafts of lectures and in part of the book itself. Given that the book ms. itself does not seemingly exist anymore, these are quite interesting. I’ve said a bit about the way Foucault wrote manuscripts before. There is nothing quite of the quality of a lost Cicero text hidden in an Augustine manuscript, but intriguing nonetheless. I did find an entire early unpublished short text, but it is outside the date range of the planned study and I doubt I will do anything with this. It’s not quite juvenilia, but would fit the description of ‘Foucault before Foucault’. A few pieces of correspondence are in the files, seemingly by chance; occasionally Foucault uses a piece of scrap paper for notes, and once uses a page of Collège de France headed notepaper. That page can at least be given a definite earliest date.

I need to return to work through more materials, so I’ll be planning future visits in the autumn as time allows. It’s quite tiring work, because Foucault’s handwriting is very difficult, and this week I’ve been in the manuscripts room all the time it’s open with only a brief break for lunch for five days straight. When Foucault is writing it can be possible to work out what he means by the context, but proper names can be hard, because it’s difficult to guess their correct spelling. He frequently misses accents, or joins them into the next letter. The bibliography in Discipline and Punish was invaluable in working out what text and which author was meant. Internet searching and online catalogues helped complete most of the rest. He has some shorthand symbols that I’ve worked out – Δ for Dieu; φ for Philosophy, for example – and tends to abbreviate the end of some words by missing some characters and putting the last letters in superscript and underlining it. Usually I get there in the end, but it is time-consuming. And there is a lot of material to work through…

The next thing to work on chronologically would be Lectures on the Will to Know, for which I have detailed notes already, but after the weekend I’m going to have to move to Théories et insitutions pénales, which will be my focus for the lecture in Nottingham in September. I’m only planning on talking about the second part of the course there, rather than the material on the Nu-pieds, and I hope to have a chance to talk about that part at some other point soon.

You can read more about these books, along with links to previous updates, here. And, as a reminder, a lot of resources I produced while writing Foucault’s Last Decade are available here. It includes a list of audio files, a bibliography of collaborative projects, a list of short pieces which did not appear in Dits et écrits, comparison of variant forms of texts, a few short translations, and so on.

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Books received – Sloterdijk, Foucault, Shakespeare, Saquet

books received 24 Aug 2015

The latest translation from Sloterdijk – In the Shadow of Mount Sinai, the NRF editions of three of Foucault’s books, the New Cambridge Shakespeare edition of Romeo and Juliet, and some publications from Marcos Aurelio Saquet.

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Top posts on Progressive Geographies this week

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E-IR on ‘The Importance of Open Access’

E-IR has a piece on ‘The Importance of Open Access‘.

It is rightly critical of the ‘author pays’ model, and shows how its own model is dependent on a large team of volunteers. I’ve shared links to E-IR collections in the past, and written one piece for the site. They are now moving to ‘a series of short-form scholarly monographs‘.

An interesting development from the site’s initial aims, and one to watch. Whether the entirely voluntary staffing model is sustainable is one question; the other is whether these books, while undoubtedly great exposure, will be taken seriously by promotion, tenure and research assessment committees. It’s good that authors retain copyright in their work, and can reuse material, but this does raise the issue of whether other publishers, on more traditional models, would accept to publish work where a large part was already available open access.

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First Volume of English translation of Heidegger’s ‘Black Notebooks’ to appear in 2016

The first volume of the English translation of Heidegger’s ‘Black Notebooks’ will appear in 2016 with Indiana University Press.


Ponderings II–VI begins the much-anticipated English translation of Martin Heidegger’s “Black Notebooks.” In a series of small notebooks with black covers, Heidegger confided sundry personal observations and ideas over the course of 40 years. The five notebooks in this volume were written between 1931–1938 and thus chronicle Heidegger’s year as Rector of the University of Freiburg during the Nazi era. Published in German as volume 94 of the Complete Works, these challenging and fascinating journal entries shed light on Heidegger’s philosophical development regarding his central question of what it means to be, but also on his relation to National Socialism and the revolutionary atmosphere of the 1930s in Germany. Readers previously familiar only with excerpts taken out of context may now determine for themselves whether the controversy and censure the “Black Notebooks” have received are deserved or not. This faithful translation by Richard Rojcewicz opens the texts in a way that captures their philosophical and political content while disentangling Heidegger’s notoriously difficult language.

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Early Modern Literary Geographies – call for book proposals for Oxford University Press series, and the first volume


Oxford University Press

Series Editors: JULIE SANDERS, Newcastle University and

GARRETT A. SULLIVAN, JR., Pennsylvania State University

Early Modern Literary Geographies features innovative research monographs and agenda-setting essay collections that engage with the topics of space, place, landscape and environment. While focused on sixteenth- and seventeenth-century English literature, scholarship in this series encompasses a range of disciplines, including geography, history, performance studies, art history, musicology, archaeology and cognitive science. Subjects of inquiry include cartography or chorography; historical phenomenology and sensory geographies; body and environment; mobility studies; histories of travel or perambulation; regional and provincial literatures; urban studies; performance environments; sites of memory and cognition; ecocriticism; and oceanic or new blue studies.


Dan Beaver, Pennsylvania State University

Lesley Cormack, University of Alberta

Stuart Elden, University of Warwick

Steve Hindle, Huntington Library

Bernhard Klein, University of Kent

Andrew McRae, University of Exeter

Steven Mullaney, University of Michigan

Evelyn Tribble, University of Otago

Alexandra Walsham, University of Cambridge

The first volume in the series is Gavin Hollis, The Absence of America: The London Stage, 1576-1642, due out in September 2015.


The Absence of America: the London Stage 1576-1642 examines why early modern drama’s response to English settlement in the New World was muted, even though the so-called golden age of Shakespeare coincided with the so-called golden age of exploration: no play is set in the Americas; few plays treat colonization as central to the plot; a handful features Native American characters (most of whom are Europeans in disguise). However, advocates of colonialism in the seventeenth century denounced playing companies as enemies on a par with the Pope and the Devil. Instead of writing off these accusers as paranoid cranks, this book takes as its starting point the possibility that they were astute playgoers. By so doing we can begin to see the emergence of a “picture of America,” and of the Virginia colony in particular, across a number of plays performed for London audiences: Jonson’s Bartholomew Fair, The Staple of News, and his collaboration with Marston and Chapman, Eastward Ho!; Robert Greene’sOrlando Furioso; Massinger’s The City Madam; Massinger and Fletcher’s The Sea Voyage; Middleton and Dekker’s The Roaring Girl; Shakespeare’s The Tempest, and Fletcher and Shakespeare’s Henry VIII. We can glean the significance of this picture, not only for the troubled Virginia Company, but also for London theater audiences. And we can see that the picture that was beginning to form was, as the anti-theatricalists surmised, often slanderous, condemnatory, and, as it were, anti-American.


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Michel Foucault, The Punitive Society (2015)


Full details of the imminent publication of The Punitive Society.

Originally posted on Foucault News:

punitive1Michel Foucault, The Punitive Society: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1972-1973, Edited by Arnold I. Davidson, Palgrave Macmillan, September 2015

Publisher’s page

‘Unfortunately, when we teach morality, when we study the history of morals, we always analyze the Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals and do not read [Colquhoun], this character who is fundamental for our morality. The inventor of the English police, this Glasgow merchant … settles in London where, in 1792, shipping companies ask him to solve the problem of the superintendence of the docks and the protection of bourgeois wealth. [This is a] basic problem …; to understand a society’s system of morality we have to ask the question: Where is the wealth? The history of morality should be organized entirely by this question of the location and movement of wealth.’
Michel Foucault

These thirteen lectures on the ‘punitive society,’ delivered at the Collège…

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New Associate Editors at Political Geography


Phil Steinberg shares the news of the new editorial team for Political Geography.

Originally posted on :

Halvard Buhaug Halvard Buhaug

Fiona McConnell Fiona McConnell

The new Political Geography editorial team for 2016 (and beyond?) is now in place. James Sidaway, Jo Sharp, and I will be joined by two new associate editors: Halvard Buhaug, from the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO), and Fiona McConnell, from Oxford University.  Halvard and Fiona both currently serve on the journal’s editorial board and have a long history assisting in directing the journal. They both come to the journal with a wealth of experience, in journal editing and management, as well as being leading scholars in the field. In addition to Halvard and Fiona, James Sidaway will be continuing on as associate editor and Jo Sharp will have her remit expanded from reviews editor to  associate editor with responsibility for the entire ‘Setting the Agenda’ section (guest editorial, review essays, review forums, etc.).

It’s with a sense of humility (yes, really…

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Wall Exchange: Forensic Architecture


Eyal Weizman to give this next Wall Exchange lecture on Forensic Architecture.

Originally posted on geographical imaginations:


“When war happens in the city, people die in buildings, the majority in their homes; when the dust settles ruins become evidence with which we could reconstruct controversial events.”
Eyal Weizman

I’m delighted to announce that my good friend Eyal Weizman will deliver the next Wall Exchange on Forensic Architecture at the Vogue Theatre in downtown Vancouver on 15 October 2015:

Can architecture provide new tool of political analysis and intervention? This question is central to the work of Eyal Weizman, Israeli architect and scholar. Since 2010 he has been directing Forensic Architecture, an innovative forensic agency that investigates the sites of contemporary conflicts and monitors the crimes of states. His teams examine buildings, ruins, maps, satellite imagery and increasingly an emergent type of testimony — images and clips taken by citizens and uploaded online. His talk will unpack new modes of exposing the logic behind state violence from the…

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‘Popular Culture and World Politics’, an open access edited collection from E-IR

Popular Culture and World Politics‘, an open access edited collection from E-IR.


This edited collection brings together cutting edge insights from a range of key thinkers working in the area of popular culture and world politics (PCWP). Offering a holistic approach to this exciting field of research, it contributes to the establishment of PCWP as a sub-discipline of International Relations. Canvassing issues such as geopolitics, political identities, the War on Terror and political communication – and drawing from sources such as film, videogames, art and music – this collection is an invaluable reader for anyone interested in popular culture and world politics.

Edited by: Federica Caso and Caitlin Hamilton

Contributors: Jutta Weldes, Christina Rowley, Constance Duncombe, Roland Bleiker, Jason Dittmer, Klaus Dodds, Linda Åhäll, Nicholas J. Kiersey, Iver B. Neumann, Michael J. Shapiro, Nick Robinson, Daniel Bos, Saara Särmä, Matt Davies, M.I. Franklin, Robert A. Saunders, Kyle Grayson, and William Clapton.

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