Stuart Elden, The Archaeology of Foucault – Polity, December 2022

Stuart Elden, The Archaeology of Foucault – Polity, December 2022

The fourth and final book in my series of studies of Foucault’s career is now published in the UK. US and rest of the world will follow in early 2023. Polity’s books are distributed by Wiley, and they should be able to deliver worldwide.

Here’s the back cover description of the book:

On 20 May 1961 Foucault defended his two doctoral theses; on 2 December 1970 he gave his inaugural lecture at the Collège de France. Between these dates, he published four books, travelled widely, and wrote extensively on literature, the visual arts, linguistics, and philosophy. He taught both psychology and philosophy, beginning his explorations of the question of sexuality.

 Weaving together analyses of published and unpublished material, this is a comprehensive study of this crucial period. As well as Foucault’s major texts, it discusses his travels to Brazil, Japan, and the USA, his time in Tunisia, and his editorial work for Critique and the complete works of Nietzsche and Bataille.

It was in this period that Foucault developed the historical-philosophical approach he called ‘archaeology’ – the elaboration of the archive – which he understood as the rules that make possible specific claims. In its detailed study of Foucault’s archive the book is itself an archaeology of Foucault in another sense, both excavation and reconstruction.

This book completes a four-volume series of major intellectual histories of Foucault. Foucault’s Last Decade was published by Polity in 2016; Foucault: The Birth of Power followed in 2017; and The Early Foucault in 2021.

And the three very generous endorsements:

“This final volume of Elden’s magisterial history offers a fascinating insight into Foucault’s life and work throughout the 1960s.”
Camille Robcis, Columbia University

“For we students of Foucault and avid readers of his books, the articulation with debates of the time and the reorientations of his thought seemed clear enough. What an illusion! Building on the new archive and testimonies with amazing intellectual empathy, Stuart Elden recreates the latent discourse. We can embark on a new reading and understanding of the great archaeologist of our culture.”
Étienne Balibar, author of On Universals

“Stuart Elden concludes his series on Foucault with another work of meticulous scholarship, unearthing archival sources, variants of Foucault’s publications, and links to his contemporaries in the exciting intellectual context of the 1960s.”
Clare O’Farrell, Queensland University of Technology

Completing this book brings to an end a long project, which grew substantially in scope over time. The books were written and published effectively as two pairs – Foucault’s Last Decade and Foucault: The Birth of Power, and then The Early Foucault and The Archaeology of Foucault – and in almost reverse chronological order. The reason for this was really that initially I planned to work on just the final phase of Foucault’s career, but the opening up of the archive meant that I could go further and further back. It also led to the side project on Georges Canguilhem, which produced a short book for Polity’s Key Contemporary Thinkers series.

The Archaeology of Foucault is the longest of the four books – together they are about 420,000 words, about 1,100 pages in print – a significant undertaking for me. It’s been a fascinating project to work on, and in process, if only in part with content, has shaped how I will do the research for the new project on Indo-European thought in Twentieth-Century France in important ways.

I’ve been sharing research updates on the process of doing the work on these books. Those for The Archaeology of Foucault are here, and the others linked from here, along with links to reviews of the earlier books.

I’ve also been sharing some Foucault research resources as I’ve been doing this work. I hope somebody else finds these useful.

This entry was posted in Canguilhem (book), Etienne Balibar, Foucault's Last Decade, Foucault: The Birth of Power, Friedrich Nietzsche, Georges Bataille, Georges Canguilhem, Indo-European Thought, Michel Foucault, My Publications, The Archaeology of Foucault, The Early Foucault, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Stuart Elden, The Archaeology of Foucault – Polity, December 2022

  1. Clare O'Farrell says:

    Reblogged this on Foucault News.

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