I began 2015 with the manuscript of a book under the title Foucault’s Last Decade close, I thought, to completion. But it was far too long. In the end, I cut the first two long chapters out, and submitted a book which focused very closely on the 1974-84 period, without the prelude discussing early lecture courses and the writing of Discipline and Punish. That material became the basis for a second book, Foucault: The Birth of Power, which took most of the rest of the year to get to its current state of a near-complete first draft.
So, my plans of finishing up my Foucault work early in the year, with a return to Shakespeare didn’t work out. My post one year ago now looks hopelessly optimistic. I now hope I will finish the Foucault work fairly early in 2016, and then turn to Shakespeare. I’m over a year behind where I thought I would be, but of course this has has resulted in a second book on Foucault. And, while I didn’t believe it at the time, removing the material has made Foucault’s Last Decade a better, more tightly focused, book. Perhaps more importantly, Foucault: The Birth of Power has been able to expand and deepen the treatment of the the early lecture courses, collaborative work and activism in a way that would never have been possible had it remained the opening part of the other book. There are detailed updates on the work I’ve been doing on these two books here.
As a result I didn’t manage to do much work on Shakespeare, though I did write a substantial piece on King John, which I presented at UCL and Warwick, and developed the text I had on Henry V. Next year I really hope to make much more substantial progress with this material… There are various bits and pieces relating to this project, albeit a bit out of date, here.
I gave 21 visiting talks of various kinds in 2015. Despite making efforts to reduce speaking commitments this was only one fewer than in 2014. Seven were on Foucault, five were on Shakespeare, one was on Foucault and Shakespeare, one was on Ebola, and seven were on territory in some form – historical, conceptual, geophysical terrain or urban. A few were recorded and are available here. The talks were in the US, UK, Italy and Australia. At the moment I am committed to only a few talks in 2016, and I hope to keep it that way. I certainly don’t want to talk about territory again without having done some serious research, thinking and writing first…
I stepped down as an editor of Society and Space in the middle of the year, after almost nine years as either lead editor or joint editor. I am now one of the honorary editors. I am editor of a book series linked to the journal with Sage, who bought the Environment and Planning journals this year too. We hope the first volumes of the Society and Space book series will be out in 2016.
I didn’t publish much in 2015. The book writing has meant a substantial reduction in other writing tasks. The major publication was the translation of Kostas Axelos’s Introduction to a Future Way of Thought: On Marx and Heidegger (open access), which I edited and introduced. Along with Adam David Morton I introduced a translation of one of Lefebvre’s rural essays for Antipode (open access). We hope that this will be the first of a number of translations of essays on this theme. I also published a review essay of some recent books on territory in Society and Space, a long review essay of Foucault’s La société punitive in Historical Materialism, and a bibliography of ‘The Uncollected Foucault’ in Foucault Studies. I was pleased to have a chapter in Suzanne Conklin Akbari’s wonderful collection How We Write: Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blank Page (open access). I had a couple of shorter pieces published online – “Theory and Other Languages” at E-IR, and “Peasant Revolts, Germanic Law and the Medieval Inquiry” (a review of Foucault’s Théories et institutions pénales) at Berfrois. I also interviewed Michael Watts for the Society and Space open site.
In addition, of course, there was this blog, which had just over 400,000 visits – a little less than 2014, but also fewer posts. WordPress compiled a report on hits and popular posts here.
In 2016, Foucault’s Last Decade (Polity) will be published, plus the translations of Henri Lefebvre’s Metaphilosophy (Verso) and Marxist Thought and the City (University of Minnesota Press). I had an important role in the first of those translations, editing the text, providing the bulk of the notes and writing an introduction. With the second I only wrote a brief preface. I will be pleased to see both out – both are books which I think will illuminate Lefebvre’s theoretical debts in a way largely absent from Anglophone debates. Foucault: The Birth of Power will hopefully follow in early 2017.
Outside of work I saw more theatre than ever before, helped by a split life between London and Coventry, which is very close to Stratford-upon-Avon, for the second half of the year. Much of it was Shakespeare, but not all. I cycled further than I’d ever managed before – a little over 5000 miles/8000 kilometres in the year. This was helped immeasurably by having a bike in Australia from mid-January to mid-March. It wasn’t helped by not having a bike for the six weeks I was in New York, or in the five trips I took to Paris. And the cycling wasn’t all on the flat roads of the West Midlands or London, as there was more climbing than ever before – Mount Dandenong and Arthur’s Seat near Melbourne, the Black Mountain in the Brecon Beacons, Mont Ventoux in southern France, and multiple trips to Box Hill, Leith Hill and Whitedown in the Surrey Hills. For the first year I can remember, I only visited countries I’d been to before – Australia, US, France, Italy…