I’ve just signed a contract with Polity for a book entitled Foucault’s Last Decade. I had a really good experience with Polity for the Sloterdijk Now edited volume, and am very pleased to be working with them and the philosophy editor Emma Hutchinson again. Here’s the opening part of the proposal:
This book offers a detailed account of the last decade of the work of Michel Foucault, in order both to situate his key works in relation to each other, and to outline an intellectual history of his final project on the history of sexuality. It works in a textual and contextual way, offering close readings of Foucault’s works and situating them in relation to his life, political activism and collaborative projects at the Collège de France. The arguments of those works will be carefully reconstructed, filling in details and making links between published works, lecture material and unpublished projects.
Foucault’s Last Decade will draw on all published and several unpublished writings of Foucault, including his lecture courses at the Collège de France and material archived in France, as well as interviews. It seeks to outline how the originally conceived thematic plan for the History of Sexuality was abandoned; how it led Foucault through work on governmentality and technologies of the self; how he came to write the more chronological historical study he was working on at his death; and to open up some of the possibilities he himself left unexplored or under-developed. It will discuss the key concerns of his work throughout this period; what he argues in well-known and unjustly neglected works; and the kinds of analyses his work makes possible.
The introductory chapter treats the early 1970s, tracing the theme of power in Foucault’s work, and showing how this led to his book Discipline and Punish in 1975. The next chapters outline the themes in his lectures relating to the different subjects of sex as a knowledge and discipline and how these are crystallized in the programme of work proposed in the first volume of the History of Sexuality. The arguments of that text will be discussed in detail, but the book will also draw on the extant materials beyond the book itself to indicate where Foucault anticipated going with these ideas. Beginning in Chapter Five, the book then looks at how Foucault’s project got into difficulties around the notion of confession, and led him to rethink its orientation. It therefore shows how the question of rule and regulation generally, and politics and ethics particularly, became concerns over the last few years of his life. As such the book goes beyond the History of Sexuality series itself, to weave in his arguments concerning governmentality and technologies of the self, which this book suggests were part of an overall research project on Foucault’s part.
I’ve not given up on the Shakespearean Territories project, but am going to work on this Foucault book for a while. I anticipate being slowed up by the publication of some of the remaining lecture courses at some point, especially Subjectivité et vérité, and may end up moving between these two projects over the next couple of years. The earth/world/geopolitics project will probably be a slower process, though I’ve a few speaking commitments on this that will move that forward incrementally. The contract for Foucault’s Last Decade gives a submission date of 2015, with a view to publication in 2016.