Foucault News

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

Moore, Alison Downham (2020), Foucault’s Scholarly Virtues and Sexuality Historiography. History, 105: 446-469.

DOI: 10.1111/1468-229X.13015

This article looks at why many historians of sexuality appear dissatisfied with the level of theoretical precision in the field by considering the reception of Foucault’s approach and why some parts of it have been more difficult to assimilate within the historical discipline than others. It proposes that Foucault has been only partially understood by most historians of sexuality, with the result that the properties of his unique disciplined ascesis have been under‐considered. The article argues that Foucault shared many of the critical and ethical goals that are inherent to certain types of historical writing, noting where he diverged from them in ways that have problematised his reception among sexuality historians. It argues that Foucault’s own ascesis or ‘transformation of self’ as an intellectual might be better appreciated as a unique set of scholarly virtues expressed in his concerns about teleology, presentism, and the critical practice of ‘history of the present’ that characterise his work on sexuality.

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