Saint Foucault

Saint Foucault : Towards a Gay Hagiography

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Description

This study explores why Foucault has become a culture hero for the gay movement by delving into the basis of his influence. It describes how Foucault's writings have been seized upon and turned to political account in gay/lesbian activism, arguing that Foucault's critique advances a radical brand of gay/lesbian politics.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 255 pages
  • 139.7 x 208.28 x 27.94mm | 458.13g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • halftones
  • 0195093712
  • 9780195093711

Review Text

A self-described "worshipper" of Foucault takes on critics of the philosopher in two interrelated essays dealing with Foucault's sexual politics and his biographers. Halperin (Literature/MIT; One Hundred Years of Homosexuality, not reviewed) offers this book as an attempt to recuperate the late writer's position as an "oppositional thinker who is also gay and who undertakes explicitly to combine scholarship and politics in his own practice." The first, and longer, essay is a cogent effort to situate Foucault's personal practice within the matrix of his thought, defending his History of Sexuality, Vol. 1 in particular from his straight-liberal detractors. Halperin gives a sound and understandable precis of Foucault's complex work and makes abundantly clear the way in which Foucault's own political activities worked in tandem with his writing as an attempt at transformation, allowing the powerless, the silenced, and the objectified to become speaking subjects. A lengthy discussion of Foucault's idea of self-transformation and how it links up with his own sadomasochistic sexual tastes leads smoothly into the second essay. Considering the "politics of writing a gay life," Halperin denounces James Miller's biography The Passion of Michel Foucault for what he takes to be its anti-Foucauldian stance and particularly for its positioning of Foucault as a sexually abnormal "freak." Finally, he turns the tables on Miller, offering a reading of the biographer as obsessed with "abnormal" sexuality. Although these arguments are couched in the academic jargon that afflicts such writing these days, Halperin makes a strong case in the first essay and a passionate if somewhat less convincing one in the second, and the book is helped considerably by his droll and sardonic asides. For those concerned with the thought of Foucault and the politics of gayness, an absolutely necessary book. Unfortunately, like Foucault's work itself, probably too arcane for a general readership. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

Review quote

"Foucault, the worm having turned, needs defenders these days, and Halperin fills the position well, arguing that Foucault provides the radical gay movement with both the philosophical underpinnings and political means with which to resist suppression by mainstream culture."--The Los Angeles Times Book Review"Saint Foucault is not only the most stimulating analysis to date of 'the Foucault effect': it is a major contribution in its own right to the political effect of Foucault's work. It is required reading for everyone interested in Foucault's thought, in philosophical thought and contemporary politics, as well as everyone interested in Queer Theory and in the ongoing controversies and struggles of the gay movement."--Didier Eribon, author of Michel Foucault and Michel Foucault et ses contemporains"Without even setting out to do so, David Halperin has provided the most lucid explication of the later work of Foucault that I've read. As if this were not rebuke enough to those who have got it all wrong, Halperin goes on to demolish, point by point, those liberal critics and biographers who would make of Foucault that object of their homophobic knowingness. For all of that, the book's real utility resides in something more: its extraordinarily able demonstration of the ways that Foucault's strategies of resistance are enacted in queer political and cultural practices."--Douglas Crimp, author of On the Museum's Ruins and co-author of AIDS Demo Graphics"Bracingly clear-headed and endlessly smart, David Halperin's new book commands attention. Saint Foucault represents a major contribution to the philosophy of sexuality and a magisterial introduction to one of the twentieth century's most important thinkers. Unafraid to take real intellectual risks, Halperin delivers Foucault at last from the pedants and the purists, the doubters and the debunkers. A sage, searching, and sensible book."--Diana Fuss, Department of English, Princeton University and author of Identification Papers"For those concerned with the thought of Foucault and the politics of gayness, an absolutely necessary book."--Kirkus Reviewsshow more

About David M. Halperin

About the Author: David M. Halperin is Professor of Literature at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. A founding editor of GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and GayStudies, and a coeditor of The Lesbian and Gay Studies Reader, he is the author most notably of One Hundred Years of Homosexuality, which Outweek called "the single most important contribution to the interpretation of gay history in nearly a decade."show more

Rating details

206 ratings
3.94 out of 5 stars
5 34% (70)
4 37% (76)
3 21% (43)
2 6% (13)
1 2% (4)
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