Michel Foucault, Folie, Langage, Litterature, edited by Henri-Paul Fruchaud, Daniele Lorenzini and Judith Revel, Vrin, September 2019

9782711628988Michel Foucault, Folie, Langage, Litterature, edited by Henri-Paul Fruchaud, Daniele Lorenzini and Judith Revel, Vrin, September 2019

The latest collection of pieces from the archive, with an introduction by Judith Revel.

La folie, le langage et la littérature ont longtemps occupé une place centrale dans la pensée de Michel Foucault. Quels sont le statut et la fonction du fou dans nos sociétés « occidentales », et en quoi se différencient-t-ils de ce qu’ils peuvent être dans d’autres sociétés? Mais également : quelle étrange parenté la folie entretient-elle avec le langage et la littérature, qu’il s’agisse du théâtre baroque, du théâtre d’Artaud ou de l’œuvre de Roussel? Et, s’il s’agit de s’intéresser au langage dans sa matérialité, comment l’analyse littéraire s’est-elle elle-même transformée, en particulier sous l’influence croisée du structuralisme et de la linguistique, et dans quelle direction évolue-t-elle?
Les conférences et les textes, pour la plupart inédits, réunis ici illustrent la manière dont, à partir des années 1960 et pendant plus d’une décennie, Foucault n’a eu de cesse de tisser, de reformuler et de reprendre ces questionnements. Éclairant d’un jour nouveau des thématiques que l’on croyait connaître, ils permettent également de percevoir l’étonnant regard de lecteur que Foucault portait par exemple sur La Recherche de l’Absolu de Balzac, ou sur La Tentation de saint Antoine et Bouvard et Pécuchet de Flaubert.

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Books received – Melossi & Pavarini, Talcott, Foucault, Hall

Books received in recompense for review work – Dario Melossi & Massimo Pavarini, The Prison and the Factory; Samuel Talcott, Georges Canguilhem and the Problem of Error; Michel Foucault, Discourse and Truth and Parrēsia, and Stuart Hall, Familiar Stranger: A Life between Two Islands.


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‘Foucault in the Valley of Death’ – Andrew Marzoni on Simeon Wade’s Foucault in California

B46_Marzoni_openerFoucault in the Valley of Death‘ – Andrew Marzoni on Simeon Wade’s Foucault in California in The Baffler (online and in issue #46).

I spoke to Marzoni by phone during his research for this piece, and am briefly quoted in it. Although it uses the Wade memoir, it goes quite a way beyond that, and quotes the correspondence between Foucault and Wade which is now archived at USC.

THE FIRST TIME that Simeon Wade read Michel Foucault was in a graduate seminar at Harvard in the 1960s. Madness and Civilization had been translated into English in 1965, and the book excited Wade, who had been vice president of the Baptist student union at the College of William and Mary only a few years earlier. But it was The Order of Things, a bestseller in France upon its publication in 1966, that caused the young Marxist to “discard Hegelianism,” as he later explained, for the humanistic “equivalent of Watson and Crick’s analysis of the double helix.” Wade earned a doctorate in the intellectual history of Western civilization in 1968, writing a thesis on “The Idea of Luxury in Eighteenth-Century England,” and after teaching in Boston for a couple of years, hitched a ride with his fraternity brother Jet Thomas, who had officiated the wedding of Gram Parsons, to California, where Thomas owned a cabin on Mount Baldy. [continues here]


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‘Judith Butler: When Killing Women Isn’t a Crime’ – interview and details of forthcoming book The Force of Non-Violence

9781788732765.jpgJudith Butler: When Killing Women Isn’t a Crime – interview with George Yancy in The New York Times. Thanks to Morris Kaplan for the link.

Among other things it talks of her forthcoming book The Force of Non-Violence, forthcoming with Verso (and distributed by Penguin).

I reached out to the philosopher Judith Butler last year, not long after I wrote an article titled “I Am A Sexist,” as the #MeToo movement was in full swing. I hoped to get an unvarnished critique of the essay. I got much more: A bracing and profound exchange that led to this interview and the reminder that violence against women, in its many forms, is a global tragedy.

Judith Butler is known for her decades of work in philosophy, feminism and activism worldwide. A professor in the department of comparative literature and the program of critical theory at the University of California, Berkeley, she is the author of numerous influential books, including “Notes Toward a Performative Theory of Assembly” and the forthcoming book, “The Force of Non-Violence.” The interview was conducted by email.

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The UK National Student Survey: An amalgam of discipline and neo-liberal governmentality (2019)

Discussion of the UK national student survey – one of the many metric-driven aspects of contemporary universities.

Foucault News

Thiel, J.
The UK National Student Survey: An amalgam of discipline and neo-liberal governmentality
(2019) British Educational Research Journal, 45 (3), pp. 538-553.

DOI: 10.1002/berj.3512

The UK National Student Survey (NSS) has high status on the agenda of UK universities. Its rise in status is linked to its influence on national rankings and associated funding streams referenced to the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF). Consequently, many universities have implemented further assessments of student satisfaction, thereby putting additional internal performative pressures on courses and individual lecturers. The research contribution of this article comprises an analysis of the NSS through Foucault’s notion of ‘governmentality’, with a particular focus on his work on ‘discipline’ and ‘neo-liberal governmentality’. More specifically, by utilising qualitative data from interviews, research diaries and observations, it will be demonstrated how the NSS functions as a ‘disciplinary’ technology of government which subjects lecturers, departments and universities to intersecting panoptic…

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Achille Mbembe, Necropolitics – Duke University Press, October 2019

978-1-4780-0651-0_pr.jpgAchille Mbembe, Necropolitics – Duke University Press, October 2019

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‘Why should people interested in territory read Shakespeare?’ article in Territory, Politics, Governance now published

final-2019-e1547638894560My article ‘Why should people interested in territory read Shakespeare?‘ is now published in Territory, Politics, Governance. It’s been available online for a while, but is now officially in an issue of the journal. If you don’t have institutional access, then the first 50 downloads are open access (here), but if that no longer works, please email me for a copy. The article is a summary of some of the themes of my book Shakespearean Territories (University of Chicago Press, 2018). My thanks to the editors of the journal, particularly Martin Jones for the invitation to write this piece.

This paper argues that territory is more than a simple concept, and that William Shakespeare is a valuable guide to understanding its complexities. Shakespeare’s plays explore many aspects of geography, politics and territory. They include ideas about the division of kingdoms in King Lear, the struggle over its control in Macbeth and many of the English history plays, to the vulnerability of small territories with powerful neighbours in Hamlet. However, the plays also help us to understand the legal and economic issues around territory, of the importance of technical innovations around surveying and cartography, and the importance of landscapes and bodies. Shakespeare is especially interesting because debates in political theory at this time concerned a recognizably modern understanding, and European states were consolidating their own rule, marking boundaries and seizing colonial possessions. Shakespeare dramatizes many of these themes, from The Tempest to plays set in the Eastern Mediterranean such as Othello. Territory is a word, concept and practice, and their interrelation is explored with Shakespeare as a guide. This builds on the author’s previous work on territory, but also develops the understanding further, especially around the colonial, corporeal and geophysical. Historical work on our contemporary concepts can also be revealing of our present.

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Hannah Arendt on What Freedom and Revolution Really Mean – previously unpublished essay (open access)

Hannah Arendt on What Freedom and Revolution Really Mean – previously unpublished essay at LitHub (also in print in The New England Review). Thanks to Peter Gratton for the link.

In the 1960s, some years after the publication of her book On Revolution, Hannah Arendt lived in a world of revolutionary events, to which she was particularly sensitive. Such events included the expulsion of Krushchev in the Soviet Union; the construction of the Berlin Wall dividing Germany into two states; the Cuban missile crisis; the so-called “Quiet Revolution” in Canada, nationalistic in character; the Civil Rights movements here and abroad; anti-war protests, some of which were deadly, here and in Europe; military coups in South Korea, Vietnam, and Greece; Pope John XXIII’s profoundly revolutionary Second Vatican Council; the horror of the Cultural Revolution in China; the scientific revolution best known as “the conquest of space”; and the ongoing decolonization and independence battles in formerly imperial domains.

This manuscript, never before published, is marked “A Lecture” and dated “1966-67.” Where and when it was delivered, or if it was delivered, is not known. The manuscript seems too long for a single lecture. It might have been given at the University of Chicago where Arendt was teaching at the time in the School on Social Thought. Or it could have been at the Graduate Faculty of the New School for Social Research, which Arendt agreed to join in 1967, primarily to be in New York, close to her husband, Heinrich Bluecher, who was unwell. The where and when of the lecture have not been confirmed, though extant records have been thoroughly searched.

–Jerome Kohn

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The Truth That Hurts, or the Corps à Corps of Tongues: An interview with Jacques Derrida, translated in Parallax

The Truth That Hurts, or the Corps à Corps of Tongues: An interview with Jacques Derrida” – new translation in Parallax (requires subscription), No abstract, so first note below:

1 Translator’s note [TN]: What follows is a translation of an interview with Jacques Derrida conducted by Évelyne Grossman in December 2003. The interview, entitled ‘La vérité blessante, ou le corps à corps des langues’, was published in the French journal Europe in May 2004, five months before Derrida’s death. A portion of the interview was translated into English by Thomas Dutoit and published in 2005 in the collection Sovereignties in Question: The Poetics of Paul Celan. I would like to thank the editor-in-chief of Europe, Jean-Baptiste Para, as well as Évelyne Grossman, Thomas Dutoit, and Pierre Alferi for allowing us to translate and publish the interview in this special issue of parallax. I would also like to express my gratitude to Donald Cross and Eric Prenowitz, who helped me revise this translation. A few words about the title: the phrase ‘La vérité blessante’ is a play on the French expression il n’y a que la vérité qui blesse – a rough equivalent of ‘only truth hurts’. The French verb blesser can refer to a physical wounding but also to a moral offence, to the hurting of someone’s feelings. The homophony with the English ‘blessing’ might be a deliberate choice by Derrida and Grossman – a hypothesis that the themes addressed in the interview could certainly back up. I have decided to leave the French expression corps à corps as such, both in the title and in the interview. The French phrase literally means ‘body(ies)-to-body(ies)’. It usually refers to a close encounter, a duel, a hand-to-hand combat or attack that involves bodily contact. It can be a form of wrestling, generally without mediation, at least without long-distance weaponry: ‘body-to-body’. But the expression is also used to refer to sexual embrace, intercourse or lovemaking. Both dimensions are present in the interview; in the title, the erotic, corporeal connotation is highlighted by the proximity of langues, ‘languages’ or ‘tongues’.



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Alex Jeffrey, The Edge of Law: Legal Geographies of a War Crimes Court – Cambridge University Press, December 2019

9781107199842Alex Jeffrey, The Edge of Law: Legal Geographies of a War Crimes Court – Cambridge University Press, December 2019

The Edge of Law explores the spatial implications of establishing a new legal institution in the wake of violent conflict. Using the example of the establishment of the War Crimes Chamber of the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Alex Jeffrey argues that legal processes constantly demarcate a line of inclusion and exclusion: materially, territorially and corporally. In contrast to accounts that have focused on the judicial outcomes of these transitional justice efforts, The Edge of Law draws on long-term fieldwork in Bosnia and Herzegovina to focus on the social and political consequences of the trials, tracing the fraught mechanisms that have been used by international and local political elites to convey their legitimacy. This book will be of interest to socio-legal and geographical scholars working in the fields of transitional justice, legal systems, critical geopolitics and criminology.

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