Michael Sheringham, who has died of prostate cancer aged 67, was a leading figure in the field of French studies in Britain, Ireland and the US. In France, too, he earned widespread recognition for his achievements as a literary and cultural critic of the first order….
Everyday Life: Theories and Practices from Surrealism to the Present (2006) proved to be another landmark publication in French literary criticism in the anglophone world. Sheringham put together this wide-ranging, pioneering work with creativity, energy and patience. He drew fruitfully on the philosopher Michel de Certeau’s view set out in L’Invention du Quotidien (The Practice of Everyday Life) that routines like walking, talking and reading – the very things that are central to daily living – are somehow held outside specialised, established forms of knowledge. Sheringham’s critical manoeuvre was to analyse the “practitioners” of the everyday, among them Henri Lefebvre, Roland Barthes, Georges Perec and Annie Ernaux.
Everyday Life was the work of his I knew best, and we had a brief correspondence about his work on Lefebvre. I didn’t know that he was working in his last years on Foucault, as this part of the obituary notes:
By the time of his death, he had come close to completing a new book on Michel Foucault and a 19th-century French archive, with the title The Afterlives of Pierre Rivière: Foucault/Archive/Film.