The Archaeology of Foucault – research and writing updates

OT jacket.jpegThe Archaeology of Foucault will be the fourth and final volume in my intellectual history of Foucault’s entire career. Like the others, it will be published by Polity. Although the last to be written, chronologically it is the second, sitting between The Early Foucault (Polity 2021) and before Foucault: The Birth of Power (Polity 2017) and Foucault’s Last Decade (Polity 2016). The order of the books’ writing has been partly dependent on the availability of material by publication or in archives. The Early Foucault was published in June 2021, but the delay in completing that book (caused in large part by the difficulties of doing the final archival work in the pandemic) meant that I am quite a way into researching and writing the final volume already. 

The Archaeology of Foucault fills in the missing years of 1962-1969. During this time Foucault taught at Clermont-Ferrand, Tunis and Vincennes, and in Brazil, and while his books Birth of the ClinicThe Order of Things and The Archaeology of Knowledge are the best known outputs from this period, he did a lot of other things too. His work on literature, including the book on Raymond Roussel and lots of short pieces, and on art is also significant, and some of his lecture materials from this period are in the process of being published – two, on sexuality, appeared in 2018. There is a lot of material in the archive that will also be discussed in this book. Again, the challenges of doing this work in the pandemic, especially with travel restrictions and a heavier teaching load, means the work may end up being delayed. I am hoping, however, to complete the manuscript in early 2022.

As with the previous Foucault books (see here and here), I having been writing updates on the research and writing process. These have tended to be very much about the process, rather than sharing draft material. I’ve also been producing a series of research resources – bibliographies, textual comparisons, etc. – in the process of doing this work, which I hope others might find helpful.

For this book, see in particular – Which edition of Foucault’s Birth of the Clinic did Alan Sheridan actually translate?The textual issues around Foucault’s ‘What is an Author?’; The differences between the English and French versions of Foucault’s 1983 interview on Raymond RousselFoucault’s Inaugural lecture at the Collège de France, L’ordre du discours (a comparison of the two different versions) and A minor note on the two versions of Foucault’s ‘This is Not a Pipe’, and the problems of the translation in Essential Works.


Beginning work on ‘The Archaeology of Foucault’ – 1 July 2020

The Archaeology of Foucault update 1: Organisation, textual comparisons and a working timeline – 13 July 2020

The Archaeology of Foucault update 2: The Birth of the Clinic, a trip to Paris, working on courses on Sexuality and Les mots et les choses – 14 August 2020

The Archaeology of Foucault update 3: Early versions of some texts, the Port-Royal Grammar, Foucault’s work on literature, Bataille and Nietzsche, and a writing break in Wales – 5 October 2020

The Archaeology of Foucault update 4: The term from hell, Foucault in Brazil and Tunisia, and the problems of archival research in a pandemic – 18 December 2020

The Archaeology of Foucault update 5: Proofs of The Early Foucault, connected work on dynasties, Canguilhem, Dumézil and Hyppolite – 23 February 2021

The Archaeology of Foucault update 6: the state of the manuscript, limited work in libraries, and editing work on Lefebvre and Dumézil – 1 June 2021

The Archaeology of Foucault update 7: more UK library work on Foucault and Dumézil; Foucault work on literature and art – 1 July 2021

The Archaeology of Foucault update 8: a nearly complete draft of the chapter on art, and progress with literature and linguistics – 30 July 2021

The Archaeology of Foucault update 9: further work on linguistics, Roussel and the 1970 visits to Buffalo and Japan – 27 August 2021

The Archaeology of Foucault update 10: cycling in Wales, work on The Order of Things, Nietzsche and a short trip to Paris – 1 October 2021

The Archaeology of Foucault update 11: A new term, work on Nietzsche and planning another archive trip – 29 October 2021

The Archaeology of Foucault update 12: archival work in Paris on drafts of The Archaeology of Knowledge and Foucault’s notebooks – 26 November 2021

The Archaeology of Foucault update 13: drafting the chapters on The Archaeology of Knowledge and sexuality; moving to work on madness and medicine – 7 January 2022