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The Cambridge Introduction to Michel Foucault
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Book description

French philosopher and historian Michel Foucault is essential reading for students in departments of literature, history, sociology and cultural studies. His work on the institutions of mental health and medicine, the history of systems of knowledge, literature and literary theory, criminality and the prison system, and sexuality, has had a profound and enduring impact across the humanities and social sciences. This introductory book, written for students, offers in-depth critical and contextual perspectives on all of Foucault's major published works. It provides ways in to understanding Foucault's key concepts of subjectivity, discourse, and power and explains the problems of translation encountered in reading Foucault in English. The book also explores the critical reception of Foucault's works and acquaints the reader with the afterlives of some of his theories, particularly his influence on feminist and queer studies. This book offers the ideal introduction to a famously complex, controversial and important thinker.

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Selected further reading
Selected further reading
Barker, Philip. Michel Foucault: Subversions of the Subject. London and New York: Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1993. [A study of the centrality of the complex concept of the subject in Foucault's work.]
Beer, Dan. Foucault: Form and Power. Oxford: Legenda, European Humanities Research Centre, University of Oxford, 2002. [A sensitive reading of Foucault's use of language in The Will to Knowledge.]
Bernauer, James. Michel Foucault's Force of Flight: Towards an Ethics for Thought. New Jersey and London: Humanities Press International, 1990. [A reflection on Foucault's philosophical corpus as a work of ethics.]
Bernauer, James and Rasmussen, David, eds. The Final Foucault. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press, 1987–8. [A selection of scholarly essays about Foucault's late work and some interviews with Foucault from his final years.]
Bristow, Joseph. ‘Chapter 4: Discursive Desires’, in Sexuality. London and New York: Routledge, 1997. [A good introduction to the place of Foucault's work in modern critical approaches to sexuality.]
Clifford, Michael. Political Genealogy after Foucault: Savage Identities. London and New York: Routledge, 2001. [An account of a radical politics of freedom via a reading of Foucault's cultural and political critique.]
Davidson, Arnold I., ed. Foucault and his Interlocutors. University of Chicago Press, 1997. [A good contextualisation of Foucault's works in the light of his contemporary intellectual climate.]
Diamond, Irene and Quinby, Lee, eds. Feminism and Foucault: Reflections on Resistance. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1988. [A collection of essays on the possible value of Foucault's work for feminist criticism and practice.]
Dumm, Thomas. Michel Foucault and the Politics of Freedom. London: Sage, 1994. [Reads Foucault's work alongside contemporary liberal discourse to challenge commonplace understandings of what might be meant by ‘political freedom’.]
During, Simon. Foucault and Literature: Towards a Genealogy of Writing. London and New York: Routledge, 1992. [A full-length account of the importance of literature in the whole of Foucault's corpus.]
Eribon, Didier. Michel Foucault [1989], trans. Betsy Wing, Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1991. [Biography of Foucault by France's foremost contemporary gay theorist.]
Goldstein, Jan, ed. Foucault and the Writing of History. Oxford: Blackwell, 1994. [An account of Foucault's historiographical methods.]
Gutting, Gary. Michel Foucault's Archaeology of Scientific Reason. Cambridge University Press, 1989. [A detailed and contextualising study of Foucault's ‘archaeological’ works.]
Gutting, Gary, ed. The Cambridge Companion to Foucault. Cambridge University Press, 1994. [A collection of essays by leading Foucault scholars on many major aspects of his work.]
Halperin, David. Saint Foucault: Towards a Gay Hagiography. Oxford University Press, 1995. [An account of Foucault's importance for the gay and lesbian movement (especially in America) and for queer theory.]
Han, Béatrice. Foucault's Critical Project: Between the Transcendental and the Historical. Stanford University Press, 2005. [A careful exploration of the intersection of philosophy and history in Foucault's works.]
Jones, Colin and Porter, Roy, eds. Reassessing Foucault: Power, Medicine and the Body. London and New York: Routledge, 1994. [A series of essays from different disciplinary perspectives exploring the importance of Foucault's work for debates about the history of medicine and institutions.]
Lemert, Charles and Gillan, Garth. Michel Foucault: Social Theory and Transgression. New York: Columbia University Press, 1982. [A study of the political radicalism of Foucault's critique of social organisation.]
McLaren, Margaret. Feminism, Foucault and Embodied Subjectivity. Albany: SUNY Press, 2002. [A feminist reflection on Foucault's theory of power and embodiment.]
McNay, Lois. Foucault and Feminism: Power, Gender and the Self. Cambridge: Polity, 1992. [A study of Foucault's work through the lens of feminism.]
McNay, LoisFoucault: A Critical Introduction. Oxford: Polity, 1994. [An introduction to Foucault's works aimed mainly at students of political science.]
McWhorter, Ladelle. Bodies and Pleasures: Foucault and the Politics of Sexual Normalization. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1999. [A semi-autobiographical account of the relevance of Foucault's work for the experience of lived lesbian identity.]
Macey, David. The Lives of Michel Foucault. London: Hutchinson, 1993. [A sensitive and nuanced biography of Foucault.]
Macey, DavidFoucaultCritical Lives, London: Reaktion Books, 2004. [An introduction to Foucault's work through his life and intellectual/political contexts.]
Mahon, Michael. Foucault's Nietzschean Genealogy: Truth, Power and the Subject. Albany: SUNY Press, 1992. [A study of the importance of Nietzsche for Foucault's genealogical writings.]
May, Todd. The Philosophy of Foucault. Chesham: Acumen, 2006. [An attempt to identify philosophical questions that run through the whole of Foucault's corpus, transcending the common division of his work into three stages (archaeology, genealogy, ethics).]
Megill, Allan. ‘Foucault, Structuralism and the Ends of History’, The Journal of Modern History, 51.3, 1979, 451–503. [An essay situating Foucault's work between historiography and structuralism.]
Megill, AllanProphets of Extremity: Nietzsche, Heidegger, Foucault, Derrida. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985. [A book which reads four thinkers, including Foucault, as philosophers of extremity operating in a broad genealogy, but with notable differences of agenda.]
Miller, James. The Passion of Michel Foucault. London: Harper Collins, 1993. [A biography of Foucault which attributes the content and themes of his work to his personal tastes and lived experiences.]
Moss, Jeremy, ed. The Later Foucault: Politics and Philosophy. London: Sage, 1998. [A reflection on Foucault's late work on ethics for politics and philosophy.]
Rajchman, John. Michel Foucault: The Freedom of Philosophy. New York: Columbia University Press, 1985. [A book which situates Foucault as a historian of systems of thought rather than a positivistic philosopher.]
Rajchman, JohnEthics after Foucault’, Social Text, 13/14 (winter/spring, 1996), 165–83. [An account of the importance of Foucault's ethical writing for subsequent thought.]
Ramazanoglu, Caroline, ed. Up Against Foucault: Exploration of Some Tensions Between Foucault and Feminism. London and New York: Routledge, 1993. [A series of scholarly essays exploring the difficult and fruitful relationship between Foucault and feminism.]
Sawicki, Jana. Disciplining Foucault: Feminism, Power and the Body. London and New York: Routledge, 1991. [An argument for the usefulness of Foucault's work for a non-essentialist feminism.]
Scott, Charles. The Question of Ethics: Nietzsche, Foucault, Heidegger. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1990. [An exploration of Foucault's version of ethics, alongside Nietzsche's and Heidegger's.]
Sheridan, Alan. Michel Foucault: The Will to Truth. London: Tavistock, 1980. [A study of Foucault's corpus with emphasis on his role as a political thinker.]
Simons, Jon. Foucault and the Political. London and New York: Routledge, 1995. [A systematic review of Foucault's political theory.]
Smart, Barry. Michel Foucault: Marxism and Critique. London: Tavistock, 1985. [A book-length exploration of Foucault's ambivalent relationship with Marxist thought.]
Smart, Barry, ed. Foucault: Critical Assessments. London and New York: Routledge, 1994–5. [A general introduction to the works of Foucault.]
Spargo, Tamsin. Foucault and Queer Theory. Postmodern Encounters, Cambridge: Icon Books, 1999. [A short introduction to queer theory accounting for Foucault's place within the development of the theory.]
Stoler, Ann Laura. Race and the Education of Desire: Foucault's History of Sexuality and the Colonial Order of Things. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1995. [A look at some potential uses of Foucault's analysis of power and sexuality for the theorisation of colonialism.]


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