Changes and additions to Foucault News (2018)

Clare O’Farrell has an update on her excellent Foucault News site, which is now merged with her more general site on Foucault. The new domain name is Go here for all the details and links.

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Two or Three Things He Knows About Paris

Andy Merrifield discusses Eric Hazan’s A Walk Through Paris –

andy merrifield

Originally published on Verso’s Blog, 11th April 2018

There are few urbanists today who know their city as intimately as Paris’s popular historian, publisher and organic intellectual, Eric Hazan. He’s the only writer I’m aware of whose books have indexes for street names. But Hazan doesn’t just know Paris’s backstreets and inner courtyards: this guy seems to know all the names on doorbells, too. Since The Invention of Paris, he’s been knocking on doors and listening to footsteps, harking paeans to his hometown under fire. Hazan takes leave from one of Balzac’s remarks: “old Paris is disappearing with a frightening rapidity.” Balzac is one of Hazan’s heroes, and like the great nineteenth-century creator, Hazan himself isn’t so much a realist portrayer as an urban visionary, an observer of a Paris to come. He’s not one to go in search of lost time, nor even lost steps. Lost steps? There…

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Foucault and the politics of resistance in Brazil – Workshop at Columbia in Rio de Janeiro, and forthcoming publication

News from Marcelo Hoffman of a workshop on Foucault and the politics of resistance in Brazil – to be held at Columbia University’s Center in Rio de Janeiro. Fortunately for those of us unable to attend, a publication is forthcoming.

This workshop will bring together scholars throughout Brazil to discuss a little-known topic outside of Brazil: the intellectual and political import of Michel Foucault’s visits to Brazil in 1965, 1973, 1974, 1975, and 1976. During these visits, Foucault synthesized and advanced his research in lectures and talks on an astoundingly wide range of topics, from juridical practices, to social medicine, to sexuality. He sought to clarify his unconventional perspectives in interviews with the press. Faced with the growing repression of students, professors, and journalists, Foucault also engaged in open opposition to the military dictatorship.

In this workshop, scholars will situate Foucault’s enormous contributions in Brazil within a series of theoretical, historical, and political contexts. They will also reflect on these contributions to illuminate aspects of the politics of resistance in Brazil in the past and present. The contributions to the workshop will serve as the basis for articles in the forthcoming issue of the interdisciplinary journal Carceral Notebooks (

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‘Shakespeare’s View of the World’ – Warwick news story on my forthcoming Shakespearean Territories

Yesterday was Shakespeare’s birthday, and Warwick used the date to put out a brief story about my forthcoming book Shakespearean Territories. Entitled ‘Shakespeare’s View of the World‘ it has some quotes from me about how Shakespeare helps us to understand territory.

map_slider.jpgEven 402 years after his death, Shakespeare still has much to say on modern issues. Stuart Elden is Professor of Political Theory and Geography at the University of Warwick and is using Shakespeare’s works to further the understanding of one evergreen issue in human geography: Territory. [continues here]

I’ll be speaking more about this later today at King’s College London – I plan to record this and will try to share soon. The book is due out in October 2018.

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The Early Foucault update 17: Canguilhem, Beinecke library and back to Foucault

I wrote the last update on this book over two months ago, just as I was finishing up an extended research visit to Paris. Since then I’ve mainly been focusing on the Canguilhem manuscript, which is inching toward a near complete draft. I will share more about the Canguilhem book in due course. While that has taken up most of my time, I did also write a long review essay on Foucault’s Les aveux de la chair, the fourth volume of his History of Sexuality. It’s available open access on the Theory, Culture & Society blog, and should appear in the journal itself later this year.

In early April I was in New York for a workshop at Columbia University, and used the opportunity to take a side-trip to the Beinecke rare books and manuscripts library at Yale University. This library owns the Michel Foucault Library of Presentation Copies– the books from Foucault’s library which have dedications by their authors. There are a few details about the collection here– a news report just before Daniel Defert spoke at the library about it.

Beinecke copy.jpg

Beinecke library at Yale University

The collection comprises 1450 volumes, and is housed off-site, with books taking two days to arrive. So I had to preorder just a few things in advance. Given my interests and other projects, I chose the two pieces in the collection from Canguilhem, and three from Lefebvre. There is just one book by Binswanger here, and I also ordered a couple from Derrida and one thing each from Lacan, Dumézil, Althusser, Deleuze and Guattari. While there is something just in seeing a book that passed from one of these thinkers to another, with a handwritten note from the author, I wasn’t expecting to learn a great deal. I have copies of almost all these books anyway, so it was just the notes I was intrigued by. The best thing I found was Deleuze’s children’s drawings in Anti-Oedipus– already previewed in the Yale report.

I’ve spoken before about the lack of an encounter between Foucault and Lefebvre in person – Lefebvre is always critical in print, and Foucault only mentions Lefebvre once, in passing, and in a way that implies he knew next to nothing of his work. But Lefebvre sent copies of some of his books to Foucault – I looked at the 1979 reisssue of La conscience mystifiée, co-authored by Norbert Guterman, Métaphilosophie and Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche. Métaphilosophie had uncut pages after page 40, so if Foucault did begin reading it, then he didn’t get very far. There is no indication if either of the others were read or not.

I was interested to see whether there were any traces of Foucault’s reading in these books. While the notes at the Bibliothèque nationale de France are extensive, they mainly look like notes taken in libraries. There are very few notes on any of Foucault’s contemporaries. I had imagined that this was because Foucault owned books by them, and perhaps had written in them. There are a very few marginal marks and a little underlining in a couple of the books I looked at here, but very few clues as to how Foucault read. Of course, these are copies presented to him, and not all are ones he references in his work. So, a small sample of this selection from his library doesn’t fully resolve this one way or the other, but it indicates that he didn’t extensively annotate all his books.

I also had a couple of days in Paris in mid-April, mainly to check some Canguilhem references at the main Bibliothèque nationale site. These were things I couldn’t find in the UK, and so a couple of days work here was necessary to complete this. It was mainly things that Canguilhem himself quoted and where I wanted to check the reference and what was actually said. Some of this is hard work – one text he referenced without a page number, and I eventually found the quote on p. 361. At least he referenced the correct book (for more on this work see my comments here). I did use the time to look at a bit more in the Foucault archive, mainly some of his 1960s courses which will be published over the next few years. As ever there were some surprises in the material I consulted. Perhaps the best was a set of extensive notes on mushroom reproduction.

BNF April 2018 copy.jpg

BNF-François Mitterand

As well as this library work I spoke about the early Foucault work at a conference in Madrid, and Foucault was part of the discussions at Columbia. I will be talking about the work on the early Foucault in Leuven and Warwick in May, and I’ll also be speaking about Les aveux de la chair at Goldsmiths on 9 May. Details of all talks are here.

Now the Canguilhem book is close to being drafted, I have a couple of pieces on Shakespeare to write – one a summary of the argument of Shakespearean Territories for a presentation and a journal piece, and the other for a conference in June on Foucault and Shakespeare. Along with standard term three stuff and various talks it feels like it’s going to be the summer before I am able to return to the early Foucault project with full attention.

The previous updates on this project are here; and the previous books Foucault’s Last Decade and Foucault: The Birth of Power are both available from Polity. Several Foucault research resources such as bibliographies, short translations, textual comparisons and so on are available here. On the related Canguilhem book project, see this page.

Posted in Canguilhem, Felix Guattari, Georges Canguilhem, Gilles Deleuze, Henri Lefebvre, Jacques Derrida, Jacques Lacan, Louis Althusser, Ludwig Binswanger, Michel Foucault, Shakespearean Territories, The Early Foucault, Travel, Uncategorized, William Shakespeare | 2 Comments

Lisa Downing (ed.) After Foucault: Culture, Theory, and Criticism in the 21st Century – forthcoming with Cambridge UP

9781316506042.jpgLisa Downing (ed.) After Foucault: Culture, Theory, and Criticism in the 21st Century – forthcoming with Cambridge University Press. Thanks to James Tyner for the alert.

The work of Michel Foucault is much read, widely cited, and occasionally misunderstood. In response to this state of affairs, this collection aims to clarify, to contextualize, and to contribute to Foucauldian scholarship in a very specific way. Rather than offering either a conceptual introduction to Foucault’s work, or a series of interventions aimed specifically at experts, After Foucault explores his critical afterlives, situates his work in current debates, and explains his intellectual legacy. As well as offering up-to-date assessments of Foucault’s ongoing use in fields such as literary studies, sexuality studies, and history, chapters explore his relevance for urgent and emerging disciplines and debates, including ecology, animal studies, and the analysis of neoliberalism. Written in an accessible style, by leading experts, After Foucault demonstrates a commitment to taking seriously the work of a key twentieth-century thinker for contemporary academic disciplines, political phenomena, and cultural life.

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Foucault’s Confessions of the Flesh – talk at Goldsmiths, 9 May 2018

hs-iv.jpgI’ll be talking about Foucault’s Les aveux de la chair at Goldsmiths University on May 9th at 3pm at the Centre for Philosophy and Critical Thought. Full details here.

Richard Hoggart Building room 137, 3-5pm

Goldsmiths, University of London, New Cross, SE14 6NW

In February 2018 the fourth volume of Michel Foucault’s History of Sexuality was finally published. Les Aveux de la chair [Confessions of the Flesh] was edited by Frédéric Gros, and appeared in the same Gallimard series as volumes 1, 2 and 3. The book treats the early Christian Church Fathers of the 2nd-5th century. This talk will discuss the book in relation to Foucault’s other work, showing how it sits in sequence with volumes 2 and 3, but also partly bridges the chronological and conceptual gap to volume 1. It will discuss the state of the book and whether it should have been published, despite Foucault’s stipulation of ‘no posthumous publications’. It will outline the contents of the book, which is in three parts on the formation of a new experience, on virginity and on marriage. There are also some important supplementary materials included. The talk will discuss how it begins to answer previously unanswered questions about Foucault’s work, and will also say something about how the book might be received and discussed.

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Ethics and Self-Cultivation: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives, edited by Matthew Dennis and Sander Werkhoven

9781138104372Ethics and Self-Cultivation: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives, edited by Matthew Dennis and Sander Werkhoven and published by Routledge (usual comments on pricing apply).

The aim of Ethics and Self-Cultivation is to establish and explore a new ‘cultivation of the self’ strand within contemporary moral philosophy. Although the revival of virtue ethics has helped reintroduce the eudaimonic tradition into mainstream philosophical debates, it has by and large been a revival of Aristotelian ethics combined with a modern preoccupation with standards for the moral rightness of actions. The essays comprising this volume offer a fresh approach to the eudaimonic tradition: instead of conditions for rightness of actions, it focuses on conceptions of human life that are best for the one living it. The first section of essays looks at the Hellenistic schools and the way they influenced modern thinkers like Spinoza, Kant, Nietzsche, Hadot, and Foucault in their thinking about self-cultivation. The second section offers contemporary perspectives on ethical self-cultivation by drawing on work in moral psychology, epistemology of self-knowledge, philosophy of mind, and meta-ethics.

Preface Michael Slote Introduction Matthew Dennis and Sander Werkhoven Part I: Historical Perspectives 1.Roman Stoic Mindfulness: An Ancient Technology of the Self John Sellars 2. Affective Therapy: Spinoza’s Approach to Self-Cultivation Aurelia Armstrong 3. Was I just Lucky?: Kant on Self-Opacity and Self-Cultivation Irina Schumski 4. Nietzsche and Kant on Epicurus and Self-Cultivation Keith Ansell-Pearson 5. Nietzsche’s Ethics of Self-Cultivation and Eternity Michael Ure 6. Ilsetraut Hadot’s Seneca: Spiritual Direction and the Transformation of the Other Matthew Sharpe 7. Foucault, Stoicism and Self-Mastery Katrina Mitcheson Part II: Contemporary Perspectives 8. Neo-Aristotelianism: Virtue, Habituation, and Self-cultivation Dawa Ometto and Annemarie Kalis 9. Formal Excellences and Familiar Excellences Edward Harcourt 10. Cultivating an Integrated Self Luke Brunning 11. Moral Perception and Relational Self-Cultivation: Reassessing Attunement as a Virtue Anna Bergqvist Epilogue: Reflections on the Value of Self-Knowledge for Self-Cultivation Quassim Cassam, Matthew Dennis, Sander Werkhoven


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Interview with Stefan Kipfer – Gramsci as Geographer

gramsci.pngInterview with Stefan Kipfer – Gramsci as Geographer in Historical Materialism (open access). Some interesting discussion of his relation to Lefebvre, among other themes.

A French version of this interview was originally published at

  • Your research interests include a recurrent focus on space, specifically urban questions as well as the spatial organization of relations of exploitation and domination. Theoretically, you mobilize the works of Henri Lefebvre and Frantz Fanon, but you are also interested in Gramsci’s take on, for example, urbanity and rurality.  How do you see the relevance of Gramsci’s analyses for geographical concerns today?

I started reading Gramsci in 1990 just before turning to urban research and the debates around ‘radical geography’ that were still in full swing then. Broadly speaking, these debates  tackled two problematic treatments of space in social theory: the reduction of space to a strictly passive, ‘empty’ container of history, and, in turn, the elevation of space to  historically invariant determinant of social life. Instead, a key lesson in these debates was to discuss space dialectically, as a product of history and an active historical force. These debates quickly pushed me to return to Gramsci and consider something that a few geographically minded intellectuals had considered here and there but that was then still an unusual topic for the Gramscians amongst my colleagues: the place of space in Gramsci’s particular strand of Marxism.


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Problems in twentieth-century french philosophy – theme issue of Angelaki edited by Sean Bowden and Mark Kelly

Problems in twentieth-century french philosophy – theme issue of Angelaki edited by Sean Bowden and Mark Kelly. The Introduction is open access, the rest requires subscription.

It is often said that thinking begins with problems, or that problems are the motor of thought and practice. If this is true, how exactly should this notion of problems be understood? What must a problem be in order to play this inaugurating role? Does the word “problem” have a univocal sense? What is at stake – theoretically, ethically, politically, institutionally – when philosophers use the word? This special issue is devoted to making historical and philosophical sense of the various uses and conceptualizations of notions of problems, problematics and problematizations in twentieth-century French thought. In the process, it augments our understanding of the philosophical programs of a number of recent French thinkers, reconfigures our perception of the history and wider stakes of twentieth-century French philosophy, and reveals the ongoing theoretical richness and critical potential of the notion of the problem and its cognates.

The contributors to this issue are Amy Allen, Giuseppe Bianco, Sean Bowden, Pierre Cassou Nogues, Simon B. Duffy, Jill Hernandez, Mark ̀ G.E. Kelly, Colin Koopman, Craig Lundy, Alison Ross, Matthew Sharpe and Daniela Voss. Their contributions treat thinkers as diverse as Bergson, Cavailles, Lautman, Bachelard, Canguilhem, Althusser, Simondon, Marcel, Hadot, Foucault and Deleuze.

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