As one of the most important philosophers of the 20th century, Michel Foucault’s reputation today rests on his political philosophy in relation to the contemporary subject in a neo-liberal and globalized society. This book offers insight into the role of the arts in Foucault’s thought as a means to better understanding his contribution to larger debates concerning contemporary existence.
Visual culture, literary, film and performance studies have all engaged with Foucauldian theories, but a full examination of Foucault’s significance for aesthetic discourse has been lacking until now. This book argues that Foucault’s particular approach to philosophy as a way of thinking the self through the work of art provides significant grounds for rethinking his impact today. The volume moves across as many disciplinary boundaries as Foucault himself did, demonstrating the value of Foucault’s approach to aesthetic discourse for our understanding of how the arts and humanities reflect upon contemporary existence in a globalized society.
Introduction: Perspectives on Foucault and the Arts and Letters,Catherine M. Soussloff / Part I: Visual Articulations / 1. Unreason and the Ambiguities of Silence, Dana Arnold / 2. The Photogenic Invention of Thought-Emotion:: Duane Michals and Michel Foucault, Anton Lee / 3. Documents, Monuments and Photographs: Jean-Luc Moulene, Sophie Berrebi / Part II: Bodily Experience in Dance and Music / 4. Body Techniques and Techniques of the Self: On Some Uses of Foucault's Concepts in the Choreographic Field, Frédéric Pouillaude / 5. Discipline and Pianist: Foucault and the Genealogy of the Etude, Brandon Konoval / Part III: Heroic and Tragic Subjectivities / 6. Foucault’s Baudelaire, Sima Godfrey / 7. Foucault’s Beckett, Marisa C. Sanchez / 8. The Role of Parresia in King Lear, Arianna Sforzini / Part IV: Aesthetics Transformed / 9. Deleuze on Foucault: The Recourse to Painting, Catherine M. Soussloff / 10. Critical Travels, Discursive Practices: Foucault in Tunis, Ilka Kressner / 11. Remaking the Self in Heterotopia, Andrew Ballantyne / 12. The Aesthetics of Bios, Fréderic Gros / Notes on Contributors / Index
This collection demonstrates the continuing productivity of Foucault’s thinking for understanding a surprisingly wide range of the arts: literature, painting, photography, even dance and music. The essayists offer insightful commentaries on concepts such as archaeology, heterotopia, and the aesthetics of existence, while interpreting Foucault’s explorations on figures from Shakespeare to Beckett, from Bosch to Bacon, and many others.
As transdisciplinary methods in the arts and sciences are ascending, Foucault emerges as a central thinker, again, because his oeuvre embodies knowledge that defies disciplinary boundaries. Foucault on the Arts and Letters comprises essays engaging a creative display of figures and concepts while enacting the very transdisciplinarity Foucault helped to craft. This volume should engender similar research well beyond Foucault alone.
This volume offers a long overdue examination of Michel Foucault's seminal critical engagements with primarily French aesthetics. It is part of a new wave in the evaluation of the philosopher's influential oeuvre, opening new doors and new ways of thinking and reading his work.
Catherine M. Soussloff is Professor of Art History, Visual Art & Theory and a permanent Associate at the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies at the University of British Columbia, Canada. Her many publications include The Handbook of Visual Culture (2012), The Subject in Art (2006), The Absolute Artist (1997), Jewish Identity in Modern Art History (1999) and Editing the Image (2006).