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Summer of Foucault September 2, 2009

Posted by Andy in Foucault.
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This summer has been a great summer for Foucault Studies. Personally, I started it off with an application to the Norwegian research council for a post-doc on Foucault and Theology: yup, I’m going for the strikingly obvious.

On the 25th June, we celebrated the 25th anniversary of his death, which is being marked by books, conferences, etc. There’s also a conference coming up in Lund on The politics of life which I’m really frustrated to miss.

And then, just to make us really happy, Berkeley library have published as mp3 files most of the Collège de France lectures that are also available in book form! All that scouring the net is now over: they’re here. And they’re mostly of great quality too. Even if your spoken French is as rusty as mine, it only takes a couple lectures of getting used to the voice and style and you can really start taking the lectures in. This includes the theologically relevant governmentality lectures on Security, Territory and Population, and the unique economic analyses, Birth of Biopolitics. There are also the lectures I summarised earlier this year, The Courage of Truth.

There are also some lectures there in English (including those previously published as Fearless Speech), so lack of French doesn’t hinder your enjoyment.

Update: I forgot to mention that French mag Le Point published in Jule one of the unpublished interviews with Foucault with the bold title “Foucault was not revolutionary”. Not really unpublished this time (they did this in 2004 too): it was Roger-Pol Droit that did some interviews in 1975 and has now published them as a book in French called “Interviews“. My thanks to Morthen Sørlie for keeping me on my toes in this respect!



1. Ben Myers - September 2, 2009

That looks like an awesome postdoc project: please please get accepted, so that I can read the book when you’re finished!

2. Andrew Brower Latz - September 4, 2009

That looks awesome. What was your PhD on specifically?

3. Andy - September 5, 2009

You’re very kind. My thesis was a theological interpretation of holy fools and will doubtless soon be available on etheses.nottingham.ac.uk

I don’t hear about the post-doc results until November/December, but I shall endeavour to write the book anyway, and have already been in contact with a publisher. Watch this space…

4. Andrew Brower Latz - September 6, 2009

Did you use Foucault a lot? I’m about to work on hesychasm and consumerism and wondering where to start with him. Any suggestions?

5. Andy - September 7, 2009

Yeah, he was certainly influential in my work, but I’m not sure how useful his specific analyses will be for the study of hesychasm, which became prominent shortly after the period he studied (namely the fifth century). He has clearly read some Dorotheus, but most of his work is centred on the Western tradition.

Most of the secondary literature that takes Foucault seriously on the patristic period is pants. But you can at least make your own judgement by reading Carrette’s two collections: “Religion and Culture” (which is a compilation of Foucalt’s writings) and “Foucault and Theology” (which is a compilation of secondary literature).

He’s not famous for his work on consumerism, to be honest: for that you might be more interested on more Marxist thinkers, although I know of none that really look at the Eastern fathers much (Certeau?). I have a substantial section on apatheia that might be useful.

Otherwise the work that is most useful for patristic scholars is the article “Omnes et Singulatim”, the course “Security, Territory, Population”, and the book “The Will to Knowledge”. In that order. You could maybe follow up the Security course with the course “The Birth of Biopolitics”, which takes neo-liberalism quite seriously.

In addition, as you probably know, the genius historian Peter Brown draws a lot on Foucault’s work and they seem to have been in discussion in the early eighties.

6. Andrew Brower Latz - September 7, 2009

Thanks, I really, really, appreciate that, it’s very helpful. Did you study between Oslo and Nottingham? Who supervised you? Best of luck on the post-doc.

7. Andy - September 7, 2009

No problem. I lived near Oslo, studied at Nottingham. Philip Goodchild supervised me and John Milbank and Jeremy Carrette examined me. I can see I’m gonna have to do an “about” page or something. Good luck with the hesychast project: sounds sweet.

8. Andrew Brower Latz - September 8, 2009

Nottingham looks like a great department. Where will you do your post-doc? When you say you have a section on apatheia that might be useful, do you mean on etheses?

9. Andy - September 8, 2009

If you’re gonna do theology in the UK, it has to be Durham or Nottingham really (Durham wins on patristics, Nottingham on philosophical theology). If I get a post-doc, it’ll be at the University of Oslo, which is also great in its own way. Where else do you get reading groups of classic patristic texts or the vulgate in the original languages? Plus, being loaded, they get all the best visitors.

I’ve sent you a copy of my thesis by e-mail. Don’t know when the e-thesis will be released. hope it helps.

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