Foucault: The Birth of Power Update 15 – revision and resubmission of the manuscript, and table of contents

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While I had made some changes to the manuscript after submission, and again after receiving the reports, on Sunday evening I finished four long days of thoroughly revising the text and resubmitted it to the publisher.

Just as I was beginning the review process for the second book I received a very nice letter from Daniel Defert, Foucault’s long-term partner, saying how much he’d liked Foucault’s Last Decade. This was obviously a wonderful thing to receive, and gave me a great motivation to finish up this second study.

The key changes are to the Introduction, which is restructured and some parts extensively revised. I wrote a bit about the work here and here. I think the Introduction now more clearly sets up the argument, approach and sources of the work. I also made lots of changes through the text, and added some sentences to the Conclusion. While the reports had been overwhelmingly positive about the book, I took this opportunity to go through the text thoroughly and to address any remaining concerns.

The resubmitted manuscript is just over 94,000 words – so about 8,000 words shorter than Foucault’s Last Decade. It is comprised of six chapters – Measure, Inquiry, Examination, Madness, Discipline, Illness – a substantial Introduction and a briefer Conclusion. The Conclusion, as well as closing off this book, also opens the way to Foucault’s Last Decade, though the two books can be read independently. The Introduction highlights some key themes from Foucault’s work in the 1960s – his time in Tunisia and at Vincennes, the writing of The Archaeology of Knowledge and the early drafts of that text, and three key themes of 1960s work: archaeology, literature and political work on madness and medicine beyond History of Madness and Birth of the Clinic. If, in time, I write a book on Foucault in the 1960s, these will be key issues to explore there.

Foucault: The Birth of Power is projected for publication in January 2017. Given the timescale for the production of Foucault’s Last Decade this is about right – compared to other publishers I’ve worked with, Polity are quite fast. But no Anglophone publisher seems comparable to Foucault’s experience with Gallimard – he delivered one manuscript in August and it was out by the end of the year…

I also spent some time revising my book chapter on Farge and Foucault’s Le désordre des familles, which will be the last Foucault-related work I am doing for a while. I will be speaking about the books at an internal Warwick conference in June, and giving a much developed version of my paper on ‘Foucault and Shakespeare’ in Memphis in September, but those are on the basis of already completed work. The next work, long the ‘next project’ and sometimes conducted in parallel to this Foucault work, will be on Shakespeare.

The first update on the writing of Foucault’s Last Decade was in July 2013. I had done a lot of work on Foucault’s courses, over several years, which fed into this project, but July 2013 was when I first began working on this as a book. Now, almost three years later, two books are complete. The second came together much quicker, but that was in large part because so much of it was written when it was still intended to be part of the first. My update from April 23 2015 on the splitting of the work into two books explains what happened in more detail.

Here’s the full contents (the actual table of contents will likely just have the chapter titles, not sections):

Foucault: The Birth of Power

Introduction: Out of the 1960s

  • Approach and Sources
    • Lecture Courses
    • Other Materials
  • From Tunisia and Vincennes to the Collège de France
  • The Order of Discourse
  1. Measure – Greece, Nietzsche, Oedipus
  • Truth and the Will to Know
  • Greek Juridical and Political Practice
  • Nietzsche and Invention
  • Oedipus, Knowledge and Political Power
  1. Inquiry – Revolt, Ordeal and Proof
  • Revolt: The Nu-Pieds
  • Ordeal: From Germanic Law to the Monarchical State
    • From Feudalism to Capitalism
  • Inquiry: Truth and Power
  • Preparatory Materials
  1. Examination – Punishment, War, Economy
  • Modes of Punishment
  • Civil War and the Social Enemy
  • Religion, England, France
  • Political Economy
  • Two Methodological Issues
  1. Madness – Power, Psychiatry and the Asylum
  • Early Seminars and the Case of Pierre Rivière
  • Rewriting the History of Madness
  • The Sources of Power
  • Space and the Panopticon
  • The Groupe Information Asiles
  1. Discipline – Surveillance, Punishment and the Prison
  • The Groupe d’Information sur les Prisons
  • Survey and Punish
    • Three Moments
    • Supplice
    • Panopticism
    • The Search for Truth – Measure, Inquiry, Examination
    • Marxism and the Productive Body
    • A Wider Audience
  1. Illness – Medicine, Disease and Health
  • The Groupe Information Santé and the Biopolitics of Birth
  • Collaborative Research Work on the ‘Equipments of Power’
  • Curing Machines and Habitat
  • The Rio Lectures on Social Medicine

Conclusion: Towards Foucault’s Last Decade


I recently published an essay at Berfrois which discusses both Foucault’s Last Decade and The Birth of Power, both in terms of its content and the research process that I followed. An excerpt from Chapter Six of the manuscript was published by Viewpoint: The Biopolitics of Birth: Michel Foucault, the Groupe Information Santé and the Abortion Rights Struggle”. Both texts are open access.

Audio and video recordings relating to these books are here; and a full list of the updates I’ve been posting on the process of writing here. Some translations, bibliographies, scans and links are available at Foucault Resources.

Foucault’s Last Decade is now available worldwide.

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

5 Responses to Foucault: The Birth of Power Update 15 – revision and resubmission of the manuscript, and table of contents

  1. Clare O'Farrell says:

    Reblogged this on Foucault News.

  2. Janet Abbey says:

    I think Foucault encountered Nietzsche intensely while in Tunisia. Is that correct?

    • stuartelden says:

      I’m not sure that this was an especially significant moment. Foucault read Nietzsche in depth in the 1950s, and again in the late 1960s. The first was when he was a student, and the second for courses at Vincennes, which then inform the first College de France course and the ‘Nietzsche, Genealogy, History’ essay. There are no indications he taught a course on Nietzsche in Tunisia, but there was a full course on Nietzsche in Vincennes shortly afterwards. I’ve been through the notes he took on Nietzsche, and while they are undated, they seem to comprise ones from the 1950s along with notes on Heidegger and other German thinkers, and a different style of notes from the late 1960s. I say a bit about this in the introduction to The Birth of Power, but hope someday to return to this period in more detail. Hopefully the Vincennes course will be published.

      • Janet Abbey says:

        I read by someone, somewhere that it was when he was with Defert in Tunisia. Thanks for clearing this somewhat for me.

      • stuartelden says:

        I’ve not yet worked in detail on the 1960s, so can’t specify where the source of that might be. I do know that Defert had a post in Tunisia earlier in the 1960s, and Foucault used to visit him there when he had a post at Clermond-Ferrand. So it may be the early-mid 1960s and that he reengaged with Nietzsche then.

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