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Foucault and Origins

March 15, 2010

I wrote an essay with a Foucauldian approach that was rejected by the reviewers because—according to the reviewers—I didn’t understand Foucault’s method.

What I claimed to be doing was showing a point in modern thought where we passed from one discourse to another, how that passage took place, and what the social effects were. I talked in terms of the passage away from discursive regime X and toward discursive regime Y. I even went so far as to refer to the origins of discursive regime Y.

The reviewer tore me up for the talk of origins. “Foucault eschews talk about origins,” the reviewer explained; “you’ve misunderstood his method.”

No, you’ve misunderstood his method. Foucault rejected talk of origins in the sense of authenticity: you don’t find the real meaning of a text, for instance, by looking for it’s original meaning. But I was suggesting nothing of the sort.

In addition, what I was trying to do is what Foucault does in every single one of his works in the 1970s: show how Europeans during so-called modernity passed from one way of doing things to another, while tracking the discursive shifts that accompanied those practices.

There may have been good reasons to reject the paper, but this was not one of them.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. March 16, 2010 9:30 pm

    That reviewer sounds like a jerk. He gave you no other valid criticisms? He’s probably some old dude who misread something 20 years ago and hasn’t bothered to take the time since to reeducate himself. He’s just gone on believing that he’s right and everyone else is wrong for two decades.

  2. larry c wilson permalink
    March 18, 2010 4:15 pm

    One would like to believe that the vocabulary of the Palatine is a bit more elevated than that of the Aventine.

  3. missivesfrommarx permalink*
    March 18, 2010 9:11 pm

    Larry, I have no idea what that’s about. Those are hills in Rome, right? Is there some sort of connotation I should know?

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