The Early Foucault update 2 – Uppsala, Binswanger, Lacan and Bedlam

img_2144While I did take a proper break over Christmas and the New Year, I have been continuing work on the very early Foucault. One of the things I’ve done is some initial research on the time he spent in Uppsala. I’ve only visited Uppsala once before, to give a talk to the University’s Geography department, but I hope to go back at some point, perhaps even this year when I’ll be in Stockholm for a conference. While that will likely only be a brief visit, I’d like to spend a longer time there, working with the collection Foucault used, and perhaps doing some archival work. In part related, I also looked at some of the work by Georges Dumézil, who was essential to Foucault getting the post in Uppsala, and whose work is cited by him as an early influence.

I’ve also been doing some work on Ludwig Binswanger, including reading several of his works and compiling a bibliography of his works translated into French and English. I was getting confused by different references to the same essays, and making a bibliography was the best way I could find to keep track of things. There is a major collection in German, Ausgewählte Werke in 4 Bänden (Roland Asanger, Heidelberg, 1992–1994), which collects many, but not all, of his writings. There are two earlier collections of essays and lectures in German. There are several books translated into French, as well as three collections of essays – Analyse existentielle, psychiatrie clinique et psychanalyse: Discours, parcours, et Freud, translated by Roger Lewinter, Introduction à l’analyse existentielle, translated by Jacqueline Verdeaux, and the more recent Phénomenologie, psychologie, psychiatrie. There is much less in English, with the key collection being Being-In-The-World: Selected Papers of Ludwig Binswanger, though that is long out of print and it was hard to find a copy at the reasonable price. The first of the French collections has a good bibliography, and the definitive one is Germaine Sneessens, “Bibliographie de Ludwig Binswanger”, but both are very out-of-date concerning translations. I hope what I’ve done is some use to others.

Foucault read quite a bit of Binswanger’s work, not just in order to write the introduction to ‘Dream and Existence’, but also for his teaching. Most work on Foucault and Binswanger seems to really just analyse that introduction, but I think there is more to be said. Elisabetta Basso has done some very valuable work on this period in French, though her major work on the topic is only available in Italian. I’ve also been doing a little work on the early Lacan seminars which Foucault attended; and a little on Georges Canguilhem, though the two questions I asked about Canguilhem were both answered in the negative.

Tracking down some of these initial traces of information led me to various libraries, including one I’d never used before – the Wellcome Library. This has a very strong collection in the medical humanities, including the history of medicine, which might prove a useful resource as this work develops. I combined a visit there with a look around their exhibition on Bedlam: The Asylum and Beyond. It’s only on until 15 January – worth a visit if you’re nearby.

I’m in Paris again next week, for another few days in the archive.

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This entry was posted in Jacques Lacan, Ludwig Binswanger, Michel Foucault, The Early Foucault. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Early Foucault update 2 – Uppsala, Binswanger, Lacan and Bedlam

  1. Christian Abrahamsson says:

    Hi Stuart,

    Hope all is well. If you get to Uppsala/Stockholm there are a couple of people that might be able to help you. Two of them I know. One is Ervin Rosenberg one of Sweden’s best translators, he is in his 80s, he had if I understand it correctly Foucault as a teacher in Uppsala. The other is Ulla Wikander a professor emerita and the daughter of Stig Wikander (the main collaborator of Dumezil in Sweden). There is of course also the Rector emeritus Stig Strömholm who also knew Foucault (Eribon interviewed him for his biography). This is Wikander (the best book on him, Dumezil and Eliade is Stefan Arvidsson’s Aryan Idols (Chicago UP). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stig_Wikander A final person would be Tore Frängsmyr Rausing professor emeritus in history of science and a student of Sten Lindroth who discouraged Foucault from presenting his dissertation at Uppsala (he is friends with Gunnar).

    Best,
    Christian

    • stuartelden says:

      All very helpful – thank you. I was thinking of contacting you and Gunnar if I made it back to Uppsala, but didn’t imagine people who knew Foucault at the time would still be alive.

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