Foucault News

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

Andrew Gibson (2021) Producing Historicity: Foucault, Joyce and European Art Cinema, 1955–1980, Textual Practice, 35:10, 1565-1585,

DOI: 10.1080/0950236X.2021.1965290

In recent years, it has become increasingly clear how damaging and virulent the obsessively ‘presentist’ orientation is that drives neoliberal and managerial ‘culture’. Its proponents abjure discourses of or on historicity, lest they encounter critical perspectives on our present situation. For that very reason we should be sustaining and promoting our historicisms as tenaciously as possible. This article argues that Foucault and Joyce, in their extremely different ways, did just that, attuned as they were to the subtleties of specificity and the vagaries of contingency. But there is a certain historicity of the body and affect that philosophy and literature, by their nature, cannot fully capture or communicate. We might rather turn, then, to European Art Cinema, approximately from 1955 onwards, and a range of cinéastes, from Godard and Melville to Varda and Huillet-Straub. The discussion brings out the highly nuanced ways in which they use cities and landscapes, and temporal and spatial anomalies, to construct both a historicity of affect and an aesthetic reflection or meditation on that historicity.

historicity presentism the body managerialism neoliberal culture Joyce Foucault Godard [Jean-Pierre] Melville Antonioni Fellini Varda Huillet-Straub materiality affect the image European art cinema nouvelle vague neo-realism the European city

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