Foucault and Shakespeare, Terrain and forthcoming talks

SpindelI’ve been fairly quiet on this blog recently. That isn’t to say I haven’t been busy – mainly on the Shakespeare project. (More on this project can be found here). Unlike the work for the Foucault books, I haven’t felt I had much to say that didn’t blur the line between writing about the project and sharing writing from the project. While I have regularly written about the process of research and writing, sharing draft material is something I’ve always tended to avoid in the past.

With Foucault, I felt I was genuinely discovering new things in the research – texts, documents, material in the archive, translation issues, comparison of variant texts, dating of material and so on. That was fundamental work – both in the sense of important and preparing the ground for my own interpretative labour. I could write about the project rather than share parts of it. I thought that much of what I was discovering would be useful to other people working on, or using, Foucault. It was for that reason that I put together a number of Foucault Resources. With Shakespeare it feels different: I’m not pretending to have discovered anything new about Shakespeare and I’m much more dependent on the interpretative labour of multiple editors of his texts. What will, I hope, be novel about my reading is much more in terms of the juxtaposition of different texts; reading some passages usually taken as comedy very seriously; textual work on word-meanings and resonances; the interpretative lens of territory; the historical-political context in which I will try to embed the readings, and so on. That, at least, makes sense to me as to why my recent work has not been so conducive to this blog.

In the six-plus years of this blog I’ve felt there are moments when it predominantly becomes a noticeboard for things, a kind of public set of bookmarks, rather than genuinely about my own work. In a sense that’s fine, and I’m well aware the vast majority of visitors come here because they find that useful, rather than because they are interested in my own work. This then has been another moment where the specific nature of the blog – my own work – has again taken something of a backseat.


I’m now on my way to Memphis to present at the ‘Critical Histories of the Present‘ conference. My talk is under the title of ‘Foucault and Shakespeare: Ceremony, Theatre, Politics’, which is substantially developed from a version I gave at King’s College London last year. It will get one more outing at the Political Thought and Intellectual History seminar, University of Cambridge on 7 November 2016. This paper is separate from either the Foucault books or the Shakespeare manuscript, but is a reading of Foucault and Shakespeare together that intersects with some of the books’ themes. I understand that papers from Memphis will be published in the Southern Journal of Philosophy in due course.

When I get back to the UK I’m planning on going into ‘writing lockdown’ mode for about a week, with a view of getting the rough draft of the Shakespeare manuscript to a point where it can be left. I’ll then get ready for the new term, and as time allows over the autumn begin thinking about the question of ‘terrain’, which is shaping up to be the next main project.

I will be talking about terrain in Gießen in December, Durham and London in February, and Maynooth in March. I’m certainly hoping that it won’t be just one paper repeated four times. I’ll also be speaking on Hamlet at the Early Modern Literary Geographies conference in October; at a public event linked to the new British Library exhibition on Maps and the 20th Century: Drawing the Line on 31 January; and on research blogs and social media to Royal Holloway’s Landscape Surgery seminar on 21 February. All the details I have on forthcoming talks can be found here. I’m still deciding what, if anything, I will present at the AAG meeting in Boston. There will also be some events linked to the ICE-LAW project in the spring. I also have a trip to Paris booked for December, to work through a little more of the Foucault archive. So, a lot of things coming up over the next several months. This is the reason why I need to get the Shakespeare material to a point where, although it’s not finished, I can leave it for a while.



This entry was posted in Conferences, Foucault's Last Decade, Foucault: The Birth of Power, Michel Foucault, Shakespearean Territories, Territory, Uncategorized, William Shakespeare. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Foucault and Shakespeare, Terrain and forthcoming talks

  1. Ben Kunkler says:

    Professor Elden,

    Just wanted to make it known that I primarily read this blog to follow your work — though the notice board has been valuable, particularly on Foucault.



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