Foucault: the Birth of Power Update 5 – more on his collaborative work and drafting Chapter Two on Théories et institutions pénales


Most of the most recent work on this book project has been on the section of Chapter Two discussing the Nu-Pieds revolts. An analysis of these, and the repression that follows, takes up the first seven lectures of Théories et institutions pénales. It’s a fascinating story, and nowhere else does Foucault give so much attention to a struggle between people and state power. I will be speaking about this part of the course at the Historical Materialism conference in November, though the brevity of that talk will mean I can only highlight a few major themes. If you don’t read French, Barry Stocker’s analyses of the first few of these lectures are very useful. Chapter Two now exists in a complete, long, draft – a discussion of the Nu-Pieds; then on the shift from Germanic law to the Monarchical State, and the legal system of the high Middle Ages; then a discussion of the inquiry in multiple registers, also drawing on the Rio lecture and preparatory reading material. I presented a version of the last part, and a bit from the second, in Nottingham in September (audio here).

As mentioned before, the most recent French edition of Didier Eribon’s biography has some documents relating to the election of Foucault to the Collège de France, and I went back to these one more time. Jules Vuillemin wrote both the proposal for the chair in ‘History of Systems of Thought’ and Foucault’s nomination for it. Both pieces are interesting and show an insight into Foucault’s work and planned future projects in 1969-70. I reworked the sections in the introduction accordingly. I remain fascinated by the project on heredity he outlines in the ‘Titres et travaux’ proposal for this chair and briefly mentions elsewhere. We know that he gave a course at Vincennes on this topic, and extensive reading notes are archived in Paris, but I’ve yet to see the course itself, if indeed any trace remains.

Because the English translation of The Punitive Society is now published the next work was going through the material I had drafted on that course and checking all my initial translations to Graham Burchell’s official ones, and inserting the double page references. Next will be to read the whole text again, this time in English, and see what work needs to be done to this material to shape it into Chapter Three.

I also dealt with the copy-editing queries for Foucault’s Last Decade. This was not a major task, due to the text being polished when I submitted it, and a good copy-editor. Good, for me, means careful and with great attention to detail, thus smoothing the text and saving you from silly errors, but not someone who thinks they can rewrite the text better than the author. The proofs are due later this month, which is earlier than originally planned. This is also when the text will go to an indexer. I have only done the index to one of my books, and since that experience have given it either to (paid) graduate-students or professionals. So, that book moves forward, and is due for publication in May 2016. At the moment Polity only have a limited webpage available, but it should be updated soon. Contrary to what the page currently says, the book will be available in both paperback and hardback. The backcover text is there though, but not yet the cover, which has been agreed, and will form a nice pair with The Birth of Power. I’ll share when I can. Endorsements are currently being solicited.

In the last couple of days I’ve taken a brief break from Foucault to do some work on Lefebvre, including writing the preface to the forthcoming translation of Marxist Thought and the City, and to attend a meeting of the Durham Institute of Advanced Study advisory council, but I hope to return to Foucault at the beginning of next week.

You can read more about both books, along with links to previous updates, here. Additionally 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.

This entry was posted in Foucault's Last Decade, Foucault: The Birth of Power, Michel Foucault, Publishing, Writing. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Foucault: the Birth of Power Update 5 – more on his collaborative work and drafting Chapter Two on Théories et institutions pénales

  1. Clare O'Farrell says:

    Reblogged this on Foucault News.

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

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