Foucault's Last Decade

Foucault's Last Decade

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  • Electronic book text
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On 26 August 1974, Michel Foucault completed work on Discipline and Punish, and on that very same day began writing the first volume of The History of Sexuality. A little under ten years later, on 25 June 1984, shortly after the second and third volumes were published, he was dead.

This decade is one of the most fascinating of his career. It begins with the initiation of the sexuality project, and ends with its enforced and premature closure. Yet in 1974 he had something very different in mind for The History of Sexuality than the way things were left in 1984. Foucault originally planned a thematically organised series of six volumes, but wrote little of what he promised and published none of them. Instead over the course of the next decade he took his work in very different directions, studying, lecturing and writing about historical periods stretching back to antiquity.

This book offers a detailed intellectual history of both the abandoned thematic project and the more properly historical version left incomplete at his death. It draws on all Foucault's writings in this period, his courses at the College de France and lectures elsewhere, as well as material archived in France and California to provide a comprehensive overview and synthetic account of Foucault's last decade.
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Product details

  • Electronic book text | 272 pages
  • Polity Press
  • United Kingdom
  • 0745683940
  • 9780745683942

Table of contents




1. Pervert, Hysteric, Child
2. The War of Races and Population
3. The Will to Know and the Power of Confession
4. From Infrastructures to Governmentality
5. Return to Confession
6. The Pleasures of Antiquity
7. The Two Historical Plans of the History of Sexuality
8. Speaking Truth to Power

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Review quote

'Stuart Elden's analytic portrait of Michel Foucault's final years dramatically testifies to the developing strength and power of critical observation that defined his writing and reflection after the "turn" to sexuality. Elden integrates, brilliantly, the new Foucauldian topics - governmentality, a concern with neoliberalism and contemporary economic thought - with persistent intellectual principles of speaking truth to power. Elden's own thinking sensitively embodies the best critical resources of our period in this elegant consideration, which belongs on the shelves of serious scholars and students alike.'
Paul A. Bov�, University of Pittsburgh and Editor, boundary 2

'Elden has produced a masterful text that reconstructs how a "thinker" thinks between failure and success, between the possible and the as-yet unimaginable. This is philosophical inspiration at its most poetic height. Elden teaches us to read Foucault in a new way.'
Eduardo Mendieta, Penn State University

The Nation
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About Stuart Elden

Stuart Elden is Professor of Political Theory and Geography at the University of Warwick and Monash Warwick Professor in the Faculty of Arts, Monash University.
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Rating details

13 ratings
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3 54% (7)
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