Foucault News

News and resources on French thinker Michel Foucault (1926-1984)

Gross, D.M.
Rhetoric and the origins of the human sciences: A Foucauldian tale untold
(2016) Quarterly Journal of Speech, 102 (3), pp. 225-244.

DOI: 10.1080/00335630.2016.1190858

Michel Foucault’s famous history of the human sciences focused on “the order of things” and in doing so it overwhelmed a rhetorical perspective that can track the arts of moving souls: pedagogy, politics, and psychology. If we revisit Foucault from a rhetorical perspective there are consequences: (1) at the level of architectonic, we rediscover rhetoric’s role at the inception of the human sciences, and (2) at the level of thematic, we can make better sense of rhetorical phenomena such as the sixteenth-/ seventeenth-century sacred arts of listening, which feature a “public ear.” Foucault’s late interest in the pastoral picks up this rhetorical thread, although he never was able to revise the disciplinary and biopolitical history implicated therein. This article initiates just such a revision, paying particular attention to historiographic questions, and to recent discussions of biopower that wind up looking very different from this rhetorical perspective. © 2016 National Communication Association.

Author Keywords

Biopower; Foucault; Human sciences; Listening; Sacred rhetoric

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