Foucault’s turn from literature

Continental Philosophy Review 41 (1):89-110 (2008)


This paper lays the groundwork for formulating an approach to literature which pushes Foucault’s thought in directions which he perhaps envisaged, but never pursued. However, one of the major obstacles to formulating a Foucauldian philosophy of literature is the fact that Foucault’s thought itself turned away from literature in the late 1960s. Why does literature apparently disappear from Foucault’s writings after 1969? And why does Foucault’s own re-writing of his theoretical biography elide this earlier interest in literature? In order to answer these questions we will have to find out what role literature played in his early thought. What is at stake here, is not just a better understanding of Foucault’s thought, but more importantly, the possibility of reviving one of the potential lines of flight which that thought cut short as a result of its own endless turning. Hence, my ultimate aim will be to address the question of what can be reclaimed today from Foucault’s abandoned engagement with literature.

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Author's Profile

Timothy O’Leary
University of Hong Kong

References found in this work

The Archaeology of Knowledge.Michel Foucault - 1970 - Social Science Information 9 (1):175-185.
Truth and Power (1977).Michel Foucault - 2007 - In Craig J. Calhoun (ed.), Contemporary Sociological Theory. Blackwell. pp. 201--208.
History of Madness.Michel Foucault - 1961/2006 - Routledge.

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