Day two in the Foucault archive at UC Berkeley

Another day working with the Foucault papers, and mainly the recordings, in the Bancroft library at UC Berkeley (see my notes on day one). The tapes are listed in the Beaulieu piece on the archive, but many of these are now also on cd. Confusingly, the catalogue numbers for the tapes do not accord with the cds, which led to some confusion for both me and the librarians, until one of them found a concordance. Many of the recordings are available online, or have already been transcribed and published. But there are many others which either have not been transcribed or were preparatory material for published interviews. I made my way through some of these today, and hopefully will complete the rest I want to consult tomorrow before I leave.

The most interesting were: first, discussions with Robert Bellah, Charles Taylor, Leo Lowenthal and Martin Jay, as well as the near-ever present Dreyfus and Rabinow, on politics. The more I hear Foucault talking about socialism the less I regard the suggestions about his neoliberalism. Second, a very poor quality recording of a lecture at Princeton from November 1980. And third, a discussion with Dreyfus, Rabinow and John Searle about archaeology and its relation to genealogy from 1979. None of these are published, though the Princeton lecture is close to published talks.

I was also interested in the preparatory transcripts of the ‘Politics and Ethics’ and ‘Polemics, Politics, Problematizations’ interviews with Paul Rabinow and others, first published in The Foucault Reader. The material for the ‘Polemics’ interview is a clean typescript in French, which was translated for its first publication. It appears that Foucault wrote the answers in response to questions sent by Rabinow. The version in Dits et écrits uses the French original – the translation work is just for Rabinow’s questions.

‘Politics and Ethics’ is much more revealing. Folder 1:4 contains typed transcripts which are much longer than the published interviews and they were heavily edited. Some questions and most of the answers are in French. Folder 1:5 comprises a version which literally cuts and pastes text onto new sheets – the old fashioned way, with scissors and glue. Folder 1:6 contains a translation of this version. I’d been through these files before at IMEC, which has copies, but that was a long time ago and they were worth reading one more time. Strangely Berkeley does not have the transcriptions of the lengthy discussions which were used for the ‘On the Genealogy of Ethics’ interview, which IMEC does have (though as noted yesterday they do have some related preparatory notes).

Possibly the most interesting texts at Berkeley are three lectures that are as yet not published on the care of the self from antiquity to Christianity. The first is in French; the second and third in English. They are labelled “summer 1980” under the misleading title of “Lectures: Conference on Semiotics”. The content indicates that they are, as Beaulieu suggests, from University of Toronto in late May-June 1982. Foucault does briefly mention semiotics in the first lecture. The same material is available at IMEC (D 243), where they are accurately labelled. These lectures are close to ones given in Paris, and anticipate the Vermont seminars of later that year, but nonetheless very interesting.

One other text, which I’d hoped would resolve a query, did but actually threw up a much more interesting one, which will require a trip to another archive. Fortunately that one is at NYU, and I’ll be back in New York on Thursday, so I will arrange a visit there. [Update: I say a bit about what I found here.]

As noted earlier today, I also got a copy of one of the really elusive texts I’ve been hunting for – Jamin Raskin, “A last interview with French philosopher Michel Foucault”, City Paper, Vol 8 No 3, Jul 27-Aug 2 1984, p. 18. I thought I was down to just three things I’m looking for – you can see them listed here; and the online version of the ones I’ve found here. But I then found a reference to another short piece by Foucault which I’ve not seen in bibliographies before. Columbia University seem to have a copy of the relevant journal, so I’ll take a trip up there. All this work isn’t just for the Foucault’s Last Decade book: my fuller bibliography of ‘The Uncollected Foucault’ will appear in Foucault Studies later this year as a guide for other researchers.

'Don't look for it, it's not there anymore' - site of the Café Foucault at 2440 Bancroft Avenue

‘Don’t look for it, it’s not there any more’ – site of the Café Foucault at 2440 Bancroft Avenue

This entry was posted in Foucault's Last Decade, Michel Foucault. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Day two in the Foucault archive at UC Berkeley

  1. Pingback: Day three in the Foucault archive at UC Berkeley | Progressive Geographies

  2. Pingback: Top posts on Progressive Geographies this week | Progressive Geographies

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