Foucault News

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


Volume 11 of Maynooth Philosophical Papers contains two articles that are of interest to Foucault scholars.
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Based on research in the Foucault Archives at the Bibliothèque nationale de France, Philippe Chevallier’s essay formulates, for the first time, a series of hypotheses concerning the stages in which Foucault composed the fourth volume of the History of Sexuality, over a period of more than six years. The three moments Chevallier distinguishes correspond to three different ways of approaching the initial problem, formulated in 1975, of the history of the confession of sexuality. Whereas scholars have hitherto assumed that Foucault abandoned his first project during a long period of doubts or hesitations, the archives show, on the contrary, a continuous and coherent work—which does not exclude major evolutions in terms of the corpus, periods, and themes studied. In particular, over the years Foucault’s project appears increasingly torn between two different histories: a history of confession, which was at the heart of the initial project, and a history of moral experience that, in an analysis of the self, ‘internalizes’ the history of sexuality.

Philipp Rosemann reviews the recently published volume Foucault, les Pères, le sexe (Paris: Éditions de la Sorbonne, 2021), which brings together papers delivered at a conference held in 2018 to mark the launch of the French text of volume 4 of the History of Sexuality. Rosemann’s review essay focuses on the contribution of the Foucault Archives to research on the philosopher’s thought; on critical reactions by patrologists to Foucault’s venture into study of the Church Fathers; and, finally, on the significance of the ‘Christian turn’ in the late Foucault’s lectures and writings.

-Philipp Roseman

Philippe Chevallier, The Birth of Confessions of the Flesh: A Journey through the Archives

The posthumous publication, in 2018, of Foucault’s Confessions of the Flesh, volume four of The History of Sexuality, defied expectations, both by his choice of the ancient authors he studied and by his broadening of the problems he explored. Based on the archives kept at the Bibliothèque nationale de France, this article formulates, for the first time, a series of hypotheses concerning the stages in which Foucault composed this ‘Christian’ volume over a period of more than six years. The three moments distinguished here correspond to three different ways of approaching the initial problem, formulated in 1975, of the history of the confession of sexuality. Whereas scholars have hitherto assumed that Foucault abandoned his first project during a long period of doubts or hesitations, the archives show, on the contrary, a continuous and coherent work—which does not exclude major evolutions in terms of the corpus, periods, and themes studied. In particular, over the years Foucault’s project appears increasingly torn between two different histories: a history of confession, which was at the heart of the initial project, and a history of moral experience, which, in an analysis of the self, interiorizes the history of sexuality.

Philipp W. Rosemann, On the ‘Christian Turn’ in Foucault’s Thought: A propos of Foucault, les Pères, le sexe

The recently published volume Foucault, les Pères, le sexe brings together sixteen papers delivered at a conference held in 2018 to mark the launch of Les aveux de la chair, the posthumous fourth volume of the History of Sexuality. This review essay focuses on the contribution of the Foucault Archives to research on the philosopher’s thought; on critical reactions by patrologists to Foucault’s venture into study of the Church Fathers; and, finally, on the significance of the ‘Christian turn’ in the late Foucault’s lectures and writings.

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