I can't help but dream about a kind of criticism that would try not to judge but to bring an ouvre, a book, a sentence, an idea to life; it would light fires, watch the grass grow, listen to the wind, and catch the sea foam in the breeze and scatter it. It would multiply not judgments but signs of existence; it would summon them, drag them from their sleep.
Perhaps it would invent them sometimes -- all the better. All the better.
Criticism that hands down sentences sends me to sleep; I'd like a criticism of scintillating leaps of imagination. It would not be sovereign or dressed in red. It would bear the lightning of possible storms.
~ Michel Foucault
Links to other sites
In the Nomadic Spirit
Foucault on the Web
:: Michel Foucault
- The Wikipedia Free Encyclopedia is an exquisite result of the internet.
This is a good Wikipedia page, which even makes the effort
to begin defining the familiar terminology which Foucault
so carefully redefined.
He is considered a postmodernist and a poststructuralist (though some consider his earlier works, like The Order
of Things, to be structuralist - possibly reflecting a lack of distinction at the time).
- -- Wikipedia
Genealogy of Foucault
- An Overly Simplistic and Wildly Inaccurate Genealogy of
the Work of Michel Foucault
- Simplistic and inaccurate perhaps, but still the best
the net seems to offer. Plenty of Foucault content to be
had here. And the site's The Foucault Pages at CSUN are a valuable resource, particularly
the "Author Function"
- Another excerpt from Foucault's own hand, this time from
the 1977 work, What is an Author?
- "In dealing with the 'author' as a function of discourse,
we must consider the characteristics of a discourse that
support this use and determine its differences from other
discourses. If we limit our remarks only to those books
or texts with authors, we can isolate four different features."
- See also: Foucault, What is an Author? (abstract)
- John R. Durant's analysis of What is an Author?
- "Foucault proceeds in a fashion that may be termed
his signature, for he does not wish to really pin down
exactly what is an author per se, and seeks to identify
the author in terms of how an author exists."
Shaviro's DOOM PATROLS
- To Foucault one chapter of this book is dedicated. Bill
Gates gets another. Shaviro says of his work:
- This book is a theoretical fiction about postmodernism.
A theoretical fiction, because I treat discursive ideas
and arguments in a way analogous to how a novelist treats
characters and events. About postmodernism, because the
term seems unavoidable in recent discussions of contemporary
Materials : Foucault
- John Protevi's well developed and full-bodied materials
for a rather delightful-looking course provides an excellent
introduction to understanding Foucault and his works. An
excerpt from Hints
for reading Foucault
- MF's books and essays through 1969 are quite difficult,
as he adopts the style of writing common to French intellectuals
in the 60s: complex syntax, a love of paradox, elliptical
phrasing, an assumption of familiarity with a vast and deep
culture--all designed to produce an effect of effortless
brilliance. This can be partially explained by F's relative
youth: he was a young normalien who wanted to break
into the Parisian scene, and that's how intellectuals wrote
Resources: Queer Theory
- An approachable approach to Foucault.
page gives a very brief introduction to Foucault's work
(or the part of it that interests us), and then, in a hopefully
user-friendly move, I try to explain the ways in which Foucault
is useful and relevant by the sympathetic means of admitting
how, when I was an undergraduate, I couldn't really understand
why people seemed to think he was useful and relevant. Then
you get a select bibliography and a bunch of links to some
web resources on other sites.
On the other hand, this page oversimplifies Foucault's
take on power. If you surf on over to Queer Theory, heed
the passage from A Foucault Primer:
Discourse, power and the subject, excerpted below.
Not Lying, This is Not a Pipe":
Foucault and Magritte on the Art of Critical Pedagogy
- Applying Foucault to the analysis discourse.
- My aesthetics of critical pedagogy model derives from
Foucault's descriptions of the paintings of the surrealist
Rene Magritte. My purposes here are to a) lay out Foucault's
analysis of Magritte's aesthetics and b) apply this model
to the California Readiness test given to kindergarten children.
The intent is to show the critical power of Foucault's Model
discovering how the implementation of this standardized
test fits what Foucault calls a repressive normalizing practice.
Goes to School: Teachers, Students, and Discipline
- Another application of Foucault to the classroom.
- As long as schools are places where part of a child's
education takes place, helping children develop discipline
will be one of the "problems" - that is, legitimate tasks
- that schools face. However, when used in school-talk,
"discipline" often is translated into terms of control and
power, not development or education. "Discipline" is often,
perhaps usually, synonymous with "classroom management."
review of Didier Eribon's biography of Foucault.
- by Mark Poster, Department of History, University of California
- The book is well-informed, judicious without being
remote, sympathetic without losing a critical edge. And
Eribon understands Foucault's difficult corpus well enough
to take note of the irony of his undertaking. Foucault stood
firmly against interpretations that privileged the author's
intentions, unity, authority. So this biography, if it be
Foucaultian, cannot contribute to an interpretation of Foucault's
- Herculine Guibert's review of James Miller's The Passion
of Michel Foucault.
- "The operational premise of this examination of Foucault's
life/work is that we will be able to gain the greatest possible
insight into precisely the intersection of Foucault's work
as a theorist with his life as a human being if we become
willing to entertain the possibility that in his writings
Focault may at times have been speaking about himself, or
uttering his own feelings, without telling us that that
is what he is doing."
- Contains links, of course, but also informs: how to
access the Foucault archives in Paris; new books on or inspired
by Foucault; bibliography of Foucault works in english translation;
news on seminars and other events.
Recommended Offline Reading
links to Amazon.com
Foucault Primer: Discourse Power and the Subject
- Let's face it: Foucault is a difficult read in even his
most 'accessible' writings. This well and gently written
"primer" was my introduction and I still go back to it now
and again for a refresher. You'll find excerpts from it,
like the one below, in Fueling
- Another aspect of Foucault's critical method is that
it locates power outside conscious or intentional decision.
He does not ask: who is in power? He asks how power installs itself and produces real material effects; where
one such effect might be a particular kind of subject who
will in turn act as a channel for the flow of power itself.
Foucault Primer: Discourse, power and the subject
Cambridge Companion to Foucault (Cambridge Companions to Philosophy)
- This is not a casual read. The Cambridge Companion philosophy series steps up the academic intensity. An anthology
of essays by respected interpreters of Foucault, it bridges
the span between A
Foucault Primer and tackling the works of Foucault himself.
It's a wide span. My copy's at home but the quote below
originates in a review appearing on Amazon.com and will
give you the flavour of discussion.
- Rouse demonstrates how Foucault conceived of power
not as an entity ontologically exogenous to social relations
but rather as a dynamic process which is conceived and executed
in a multiplicity of social locations. Knowledge, similarly,
is born of distinct social relations and likewise mutable.
Rouse grounds Foucault's conception of power in an embodied
lived existence which finds its ethical legitimacy from
historical experience without resorting to universal essentialisms
which concepts like sovereignty intimate.
- I offer this book primarily as a caution to Foucault's
heady theories of power. Beginning in the 1960s, Stanley
Milgram conducted a series of experiments that chillingly
revealed how deeply individuals are inclined to follow the
commands of figures perceived to be in authority. (Short
Answer: to the death.)
- ...The social psychology of this century reveals a
major lesson: often it is not so much the kind of person
a man is as the kind of situation in which he finds himself
that determines how he will act.
- This quote appears to share certain frames of reference
with the quote above illustrating A Foucault Primer.
However, Foucault is primarily a philosopher of history
and Milgram is, instead, an empirical sociologist. The distinction
is important as Milgram's experiments show that in the specific
context of his experiments, the relationship between individuals
and power is consistent across culture, class, gender and
profession. That is, power (authority) as we respond to
it as individuals is apparently subject to a biological
imperative which, to my knowledge, Foucault's various archaeologies,
genealogies and problematisations do not address.
- Fueling the Bonfire.
- A hearty exploration within a feminist context
- Life just got a whole
lot more interesting.
- A small, passing reference
Here There Be Dragons
- A quote
up for air.
- The same quote