Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

Stuart Elden (2014), Discipline, Punish, Examine and Produce: Foucault’s La société punitive, Review of La société punitive: Cours au Collège de France 1972-1973, by Michel Foucault, edited by Bernard E. Harcourt, Seuil/Gallimard: Paris, Berfrois blog. Intellectual Jousting in the Republic of letters.

Delivered between January and March 1973, La société punitive was Foucault’s third annual course at the Collège de France. It is the eleventh of his thirteen courses there to be published, in what have been uniformly excellent editions under the general editorship of François Ewald and the recently deceased Alessandro Fontana. This course has been edited by Bernard E. Harcourt, Julius Krieger Professor of Law and Political Science at the University of Chicago. Harcourt previously co-edited Foucault’s lectures at the University of Louvain from 1981, Mal faire, dire vrai with Fabienne Brion; a course soon to be published as Wrong-Doing, Truth-Telling.

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With thanks to Daniele Lorenzini for this link

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Fejes, A. & Dahlstedt, M. (2014) The confessing society: Foucault, confession and practices of lifelong learning. London: Routledge. Paperback version. Originally published in 2012

Publisher’s page
PDF flyer with 20% discount

“I highly appreciate the quality of Fejes’ and Dahlstedt’s research and writing. They manage to present in a comprehensible way some essential concepts of Foucault that help us to understand better what practices of lifelong learning, in a broad sense, are emerging nowadays in advanced liberal societies. In doing so, they contribute to the renewal of critical thinking in education. They convince me that such renewal is important and necessary… and I think both theoreticians and practitioners of lifelong learning will equally recognize and value this analysis, particularly also, because they present a good mix of theory and practice.” -Professor Danny Wildemeersch

Today, people are constantly encouraged to verbalise and disclose their “true” inner self to others, whether on TV shows, in newspapers, in family life or together with friends. Such encouragement to disclose the self has proliferated through discourses on lifelong learning through which each citizen is encouraged to become a constant learner. The Confessing Society takes a critical stance towards the modern relentless will to disclose the self and argues that society has become a confessing society. Drawing on Foucault’s later work on confession and governmentality, this bookcarefully analyses how confession operates within practices of lifelong learning as a way to shape activated and responsible citizens and provides examples of how it might be possible to traverse the confessional truth of the present time. Chapters include:

  • Reflection and Reflective Practices
  • Deliberation and Therapeutic Intervention
  • Lifelong Guidance
  • Medialised Parenting

This controversial book is international in its scope and pursues current debates regarding trans-national policy and to research discussions on education, lifelong learning and governance, and it will provoke lively debate amongst educational practitioners, academics, postgraduate and research students in education and lifelong learning in Europe, North America and Australasia.

Stephen Brookfield, Review of: The Confessing Society: Foucault, Confession and Practices of Lifelong Learning, Studies in the education of adults, 2013, 45(1), 105-107

In the terms in which it sets for itself – explicating a technology of confessional practices embedded in lifelong learning – the book is undoubtedly successful. Fejes and Dahlstedt deal with provocative and complex ideas and render them accessible, often by providing apposite examples. This is no mean feat. Foucault is opaque at times, maddeningly contradictory at others, and, as I know from asking students to read him, he can be intimidating. The Confessing Society is an excellent introduction to one major strand of Foucault’s thinking, and its practicality and clarity will be appreciated…Adult education students, and practitioners in the field, would benefit enormously from reading such a clear exposition of Foucault’s ideas, and I shall certainly be using it in my own postgraduate seminars.

Danny Wildemeersch, ‘Review’ International journal of lifelong education, 2014, forthcoming
The readers of this book review probably have by now noticed that I highly appreciate the quality of Fejes’ and Dahlstedt’s research and writing. They manage to present in a comprehensible way some essential concepts of Foucault that help us to understand better what practices of lifelong learning, in a broad sense, are emerging nowadays in advanced liberal societies. In doing so, they contribute to the renewal of critical thinking in education. They convince me that such renewal is important and necessary, since the older forms of critical thinking in the tradition of the Frankfurt school do no longer address well enough the transformations that have taken place in neo-liberal societies in the past decades….I think both theoreticians and practitioners of lifelong learning will equally recognize and value this analysis, particularly also, because they present a good mix of theory and practice.

Liselott Aarsand, ‘Review’ European Journal for Research on the Education and learning of Adults, Pre-published

I really enjoyed the book. It is definitely a timely contribution to the field of adult learning and education. First, the analysis of various lifelong learning practices through the lens of confession is compelling. Second, the use of different empirical material promoting multiple rather than uniform readings is inspiring. Third, the emerging picture of how learning has become a vital part of the various examined sites is valuable. Fourth, the finding of how several practices, spread from formal to informal, in fact seem to consolidate what appears to be a hegemonic, unquestionable truth is important…Indeed, the critical ambition is also addressed and hopefully encourages educators, counsellors and other professional groups to pursue further discussions on how to stage lifelong learning…I recommend it – not just for readers concerned with lifelong learning, but also anyone interested in critical analysis of adult everyday practices.

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Foucault’s Addendum (2013)

Christopher Chitty, Foucault’s Addendum, The New Inquiry, 3 September 2013

Finally published, Foucault’s lecture notes from 1970–71, his first year teaching at the Collège de France, demolish the caricatures of his thought.

On the first page of the lecture notes of January 27, 1971, Michel Foucault scrawled “incomplete” in his notoriously undisciplined hand. This bit of marginalia from the first year of his public lectures at the Collège de France (one of the last sets to be collected and published in English) hangs like an augury of the end of Foucault’s career, cut short by AIDS. If it’s hard not to hear artful references to his impending death in some of the final lectures at the Collège in 1984, it’s harder not to feel a deeper sense of loss with these lectures, of which there are no recordings, only notes.

In these first lectures at the Collège, the most prestigious teaching appointment in the French Academy, Foucault invited his audience to begin where he would eventually end in 1984: in sixth and fifth century Athens. The starting point will come as a shock to Foucault’s exegetes, who have been operating under the assumption that Ancient Greece was a “late” preoccupation of his. On this and many other points, the publication of Lectures on the Will to Know Lectures at the College de France, 1970-1971 requires a sweeping revision of prevailing receptions of his work.

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Source:  Progressive Geographies

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Il bel rischio

Paolo B. Vernaglione

Pubblicato il 30 settembre 2013  Alfabeta2 and SofiaRoney

Scrivere è Il bel rischio perché è pericoloso. Essere nel linguaggio per l’animale umano comporta avere a che fare con il lato oscuro, il rovescio di sé, di cui oggi invero la superficie della prassi raramente rende conto. Nell’immensa opera di Foucault, scrivere significa confrontarsi con un’esteriorità, cioè riconoscere il mondo e l’insieme delle relazioni individuali, come effetto di un’azione comunque rischiosa in cui trovano corpo relazioni molteplici e intricate.

Nel 1968 il critico letterario della rivista “L’Art” Claude Bonnefoy, propone a Foucault una serie di interviste sul senso della scrittura come impresa personale. Leggere adesso quest’unica conversazione, interrotta e redatta da Philippe Artières, curatore dell’edizione francese del saggio, procura un piacere non dissimile da quello intenso e sfrangiato che si prova nello studiare Storia della follìa, Le parole e le cose, Il coraggio della verità. Con un supplemento, che emerge al vivo dalla puntuale traduzione di Antonella Moscati. Foucault infatti, incitato dalle domande di Bonnefoy, parla dello scrivere come “rovescio del ricamo”, cioè di quel modo in cui corpo e linguaggio tentano di aderire l’un l’altro nella radicale differenza che li separa.

- See more on the Alfabeta2 site

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Colin Koopman, Genealogy as Critique: Foucault and the Problems of Modernity, Indiana University Press, 2013, 348pp., $30.00 (pbk), ISBN 9780253006219.
Reviewed by Amy Allen, Dartmouth College

In Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews: An electronic journal
29 August 2013

The overall aim of Colin Koopman’s Genealogy as Critique is “to explicate genealogy in such a way as to show that it offers a valuable, effective, and uniquely important practice of philosophical-historical critique of the present” (5). Michel Foucault’s genealogical method, which serves as Koopman’s paradigm case of genealogy, is enormously influential but often misunderstood by critics and fans alike. Koopman’s defense of genealogy rests on a two-step revision of our understanding of Foucault’s method: first, Koopman rethinks the relationship between Foucaultian genealogy and Kantian critique; second, he interprets Foucault’s practice of Kantian critique through the lens of problematization. Once we reinterpret Foucaultian genealogy along these lines, Koopman argues, we will be able to see that his work belongs in conversation with that of critical theorists such as Habermas and pragmatists such as Dewey and Rorty, rather than with the Continental high theorists — Derrida, Lacan, and Agamben — with whom he is more often associated. In the end, Koopman proposes an ambitious methodological reconciliation of Foucaultian genealogy with pragmatist critical theory in which the former fulfills the backward looking, diagnostic task of articulating our most pressing problems and the latter fulfills the forward looking, anticipatory task of suggesting possible responses to those problems.

The book divides into roughly three, not entirely equal, parts. After an introductory chapter that situates Koopman’s view within existing Foucault scholarship, the first four chapters explicate the method of genealogical problematization, understood as a transformative renewal of the Kantian notion of critique. The next two chapters re-read Foucault’s work in light of the account of his method offered in the first half of the book. The concluding chapter makes the case for the methodological reconciliation of Foucaultian genealogy as problematization and pragmatist critical theory. The book as a whole is guided by Koopman’s understanding of philosophy as a critical enterprise, “an immanent and reflexive engagement with the full complexity and contingency of the conditions of possibility for doing, being, and thinking in our cultural present” (23).

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companion Metapsychology online reviews

Review – A Companion to Foucault
by Christopher Falzon,Timothy O’Leary, and Jana Sawicki (Editors)
Wiley-Blackwell, 2013
Review by Michael Maidan

This companion to the work of French thinker Michael Foucault offers an overview of his work, and critical essays that explore Foucault’s insights and his influence on contemporary social and political thought.

Part I opens with the first English translation of the ‘Chronology’, a detailed summary of Foucault’s life and work with references to otherwise unpublished documents prepared by Daniel Defert for the French edition of Foucault’s shorter works and conferences. This is followed by studies of Foucault main works, starting with his History of Madness (1961) and to History of Sexuality vol. 1 (1976).  This section also includes a discussion of a few of the recently published Lectures at the Collège de France, and concludes with an essay by Paul Rabinow — one of the earliest and most influential Foucault scholars in the US –  presenting Foucault’s lectures and essays on ‘Care of the Self’.

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webbDavid Webb, Foucault’s Archaeology: Science and Transformation, Edinburgh University Press, 2012, 256pp., $95.00 (hbk), ISBN 9780748624218.

Publisher’s site

Puts The Archaeology of Knowledge at the heart of Foucault’s thought

David Webb reveals the extent to which Foucault’s approach to language in The Archaeology of Knowledge was influenced by the mathematical sciences, adopting a mode of thought indebted to thinkers in the scientific and epistemological traditions. By aligning his thought with the challenge to Kantian philosophy from mathematics and science in the late-19th and early-20th centuries, he shows how Foucault established his own perspective on the future of critical philosophy.

Key features

  • Sheds new light on a crucial period of Foucault’s work
  • Highlights Foucault’s relation to thinkers such as Cavailles and Serres

Review by Samuel Talcott

Via Stuart Elden at Progressive Geographies

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Review of two books inspired by Foucault:

Yves Citton, Renverser l’insoutenable, Paris: Seuil, 2012

Sous la direction de Fabienne Brugère et Guillaume le Blanc, Michaël Foessel, Marie Gaille, Judith Revel, Pierre Zaoui Dictionnaire politique à l’usage des gouvernés, Paris: Bayard, 2012

Dans le bel Avant-propos de leur livre écrit à quatre mains, Philippe Artières et Mathieu Potte-Bonneville nous apprennent qu’au début des années 1990 il n’allait pas de soi de s’intéresser à la pensée de Michel Foucault. “Foucault n’était pas seulement mort de manière brutale”, écrivent-ils, “on avait décidé d’enterrer avec lui sa pensée. Il fallait en finir avec ce trublion, avec cette figure inclassable et politiquement suspecte (…). L’Université pesait de tout son mutisme dans la balance de l’oubli”. Il fallait tirer par la manche tel professeur, ajoutent-ils, pour qu’il réponde du bout des lèvres : “Au fond, de Foucault, il ne restera pas grand-chose” .

Plus de vingt ans après sa mort, Michel Foucault est devenu l’un des auteurs de la French Theory le plus étudié et le plus commenté de par le monde. Et son influence est d’autant plus considérable qu’elle ne se laisse pas seulement mesurer – pour ainsi dire, quantitativement – au volume des publications qui lui sont consacrées et au nombre des notes en bas de page qui mentionnent expressément son nom, mais – de manière plus subtile et plus prégnante – à la façon dont il a su déplacer des lignes de réflexion en entraînant avec lui toute une génération de penseurs. La réussite de Foucault tient à ce que le geste par lequel il est parvenu à reformuler un certain nombre de problèmes a été partout reproduit silencieusement, au point d’organiser et de structurer en profondeur l’espace du discours contemporain.


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Diogo Sardinha, Le livre imaginaire, ou comment oublier une leçon de Foucault.
7 décembre 2012, site Ici et Ailleurs

Une réponse de Diogo Sardinha à la critique de son livre Ordre et temps dans la philosophie de Foucault par Alain Brossat. Cf l’article : ” lectures de Foucault “.

Dans la critique, aussi généreuse par sa longueur que déconcertante par son contenu, qu’Alain Brossat fait de mon livre Ordre et temps dans la philosophie de Foucault, il m’impute des idées qui me sont pour le moins étrangères, pour ne pas dire qu’elles correspondent parfois, et même souvent, à l’exact opposé non seulement de ce que je pense, mais encore de ce que j’ai écrit. Réfléchissant au contenu de son texte, et passée une certaine stupeur initiale, je me rends compte qu’il contient des contresens qui prennent une telle l’ampleur, qu’ils donnent vite l’impression que ce n’est pas de mon ouvrage qu’il est question, mais d’un autre. Au début, je me suis demandé si Alain Brossat avait vraiment lu ce que j’ai écrit, ou bien s’il s’était contenté d’y chercher ce qu’il avait trouvé déjà, avant même d’ouvrir le volume. J’ai ensuite cru comprendre qu’il me juge d’après des intentions qu’il m’attribue, au lieu de me juger par mes analyses, ce qui, à la fin, m’a poussé à me poser une question : pour quelle raison n’a-t-il pas « pu » me lire, mais a plutôt été victime d’une sorte d’obstacle qui s’est interposé entre son regard et mon ouvrage ? Ce sont ces aspects que je m’efforcerai d’éclaircir dans les lignes qui suivent.


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Clare O'Farrell:

click on the links here

Originally posted on Le site de Geoffroy de Lagasnerie:

A l’occasion de la parution de mon livre La dernière leçon de Michel Foucault. Sur le néolibéralisme, la théorie et la politique, entretien dans les Inrocks intitulé : “Foucault a été fasciné par le néolibéralisme, qui a fait écho à ses propres questionnements” 

Votre lecture du cours au Collège de France de Michel Foucault “Naissance de la biopolitique”, risque de surprendre aussi bien le camp des foucaldiens que celui des opposants purs et durs au néolibéralisme, puisque vous défendez d’une certaine manière l’intérêt émancipateur de cette idéologie. Revendiquez-vous une posture iconoclaste ou même provocatrice ?

Etre considéré comme un provocateur ne me gênerait pas du tout, mais en l’occurrence, je ne crois pas l’être. Cet aspect de Foucault est l’un des rares moments de sa pensée qui a été occulté : on a tout disséqué de son œuvre, mais cette séquence de la fin des années 70 reste incomprise. Elle fait peur parce que, pour…

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