It’s been over five months since I posted an update on The Early Foucault, and it is only in the last couple of weeks that I’ve really been back at work on the manuscript. In the spring and early summer I gave a number of lectures on Shakespeare, some connected to Foucault, but not to the early work, and a few presentations on terrain. The last of those, “Terrain, Politics, History”, will be given at the RGS-IBG conference at the end of August as the Dialogues in Human Geography lecture. Because there will be three responses, I had to send it off a month before. These, and other duties, took me away from the focus on Foucault’s early career. After the Dialogues lecture I have no other speaking commitments in the diary, though it’s likely I’ll be speaking about the Foucault work in New York in the spring. At the moment I am trying hard to say ‘no’ to any requests to speak that are not on Foucault (even some very appealing ones): I need to give this work my full attention again.
Part of the reason for this is that in March, I received the good news that I’d been awarded a a British Academy/Leverhulme small grant for a project entitled ‘The Early Foucault: Retracing Intellectual History through Archival Sources’. This will fund a series of archival trips in the next academic year – to France, Germany, Sweden and the USA. Some of that is necessary work for this book, and some will be preparatory for the fourth and final book in this series, which is intended to look at the 1960s.
My most recent work on Foucault has been to make a careful comparison of the two versions of his inaugural lecture at the Collège de France, published as L’ordre du discours. The results of this work – which are outside the period I’m currently focusing on, but were informed by an anonymous correspondent – can be found here.
At the end of June at the Warwick Continental Philosophy Conference I gave a brief talk on Foucault’s work on psychology in the early 1950s. I said something about his Maladie mentale et personnalité book, and in particular the revisions for the 1962 version, and also discussed the two book chapters on psychology which appeared in 1957, the Binswanger translation and introduction, and the lectures on psychology from Lille and the ENS. All of these are discussed in much more detail in the book manuscript. There was a live video stream of the whole event, but I’m not sure this is still available. An audio recording of my comments is here.
In July, I spent a few long days in the Newsroom at the British Library, working through old Swedish newspapers on microfilm. Some of Foucault’s lectures in the late 1950s in Sweden were announced in the papers, and with relatively few sources for his time there, it seemed worthwhile to do this work. I’ve been able to piece together an almost complete chronology of the titles of these lectures for two of the years he was there. I’ve also been doing some work on Foucault’s time in Hamburg between 1959-60, with the help of one of my PhD students, Melissa Pawelski.
The next major task will be working on Foucault’s translation of Kant’s Anthropology, with the plan of writing something on the choices made in rendering this German text into French, as well as discussing his introduction. This was Foucault’s main project while in Hamburg.
The previous updates on this project are here; and the previous books Foucault’s Last Decade and Foucault: The Birth of Power are both available from Polity. The related book Canguilhem is also now out, and is discussed a bit more here. Several Foucault research resources such as bibliographies, short translations, textual comparisons and so on, produced while doing the work for these books, are available here.