Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Gentile, Valentina. Review of Lisa Dowling, ed. CAMBRIDGE INTRODUCTION TO MICHEL FOUCAULT. MOR (July 2009).

Dowling, Lisa, ed. Cambridge Introduction to Michel Foucault. Cambridge: CUP, 2008. It provides a detailed introduction to Foucault's major works, analyzing critically most of his key concepts, such as subjectivity, discourse and power. While, on the other hand, it explores the impact of Foucault's work on contemporary post-modern literature, with particular attention to feminist and queer studies. Therefore, if the first section is ideally directed to students, the book as a whole contains key information and suggestions for readers and scholars from different backgrounds who seek to understand the relation existing between Foucault's work and the more recent discipline of Gender studies. In her preface, Lisa Downing lists the three major objectives of the book. It is aimed at (1) explaining the historical and philosophical context behind Foucault's ideas, (2) explaining and removing some of the confusion caused by translations to get back to Foucault's original meaning, and (3) offering detailed analyses of major texts. However, if the first and the last objectives are fully achieved, Downing's effort to "get back to Foucault's original meaning" is largely unfulfilled. Only in a few cases does she focus on problems raised by translations, clarifying the original meaning of some crucial Foucauldian notions, such as the actual usage of "madness" instead of "folly"(p.23). In general, no explicit reference is made to the French passages either in the main text or in footnotes, and this leads us to question whether the author could fulfill her second objective, which would have entailed a different kind of work based on careful examination of the original texts and confrontation with current translations. . . . Read the rest here: http://metapsychology.mentalhelp.net/poc/view_doc.php?type=book&id=4974&cn=394.

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