Start Submission Become a Reviewer

Reading: Does Foucault Have a Published Œuvre?


A- A+
Alt. Display
Special Collection: Critical Genealogies


Does Foucault Have a Published Œuvre?


William A. B. Parkhurst

University of South Florida, US
X close


Despite the veneer of agreement, Foucault scholars disagree deeply about where to demarcate the published from the unpublished texts of Foucault. I differentiate four, often tacit, demarcation criteria commonly used by scholars through a survey of the secondary literature (publication, publication*, authorization, and publicness). These demarcation criteria generate different and non-coextensive sets of texts categorized as published. Each of these demarcation criteria are problematized by Foucault's complex publication history. The presupposition that there exists a clear division between published and unpublished texts is a false dichotomy and should be abandoned. Instead, scholars must be explicit about why particular kinds of historical evidence are valuable to their projects and avoid abstractions. This should lead to historically informed methodological discussions with a focus on the material facts of individual texts rather than relying on an abstract and historically falsifiable dichotomy.
How to Cite: Parkhurst, W. A. B. (2020). Does Foucault Have a Published Œuvre?. Le Foucaldien, 6(1), 7. DOI:
  Published on 16 Jun 2020
 Accepted on 19 Apr 2020            Submitted on 16 Nov 2019

"Hence, one may ask: What of Foucault's many modes of publication? Are we to read together or separately Foucault's books, essays, interviews, lectures, prefaces, journalism?"

  —Jacob S. Fisher1.

"The 'no posthumous publications' injunction was once followed faithfully; then interpreted generously; and is now almost completely disregarded."

  —Stuart Elden2.

1. Introduction

One of the central problems in philosophical methodology generally is determining the set of texts which are legitimate to use in the pursuit of research. Scholars from a host of different traditions and approaches have radically disagreed about which texts ought to be included in respectable research on any given topic. This equally applies to research on Foucault's philosophy. This disagreement in Foucault scholarship3 is framed by the pre-theoretical, and often tacit, assumption by Foucault scholars that there is a coherent demarcation between Foucault's published and unpublished work. However, I will argue that such a demarcation is internally inconsistent and not historically defensible. That is, Foucault's publication history is a very messy one and when we pay close attention to that history, the dichotomy between published and unpublished turns out to be merely an artifact of scholarly convention and tacit practice of textual scholarship. Imposing such a strict demarcation cannot be historically supported.

Scholars make a demarcation between Foucault's published and unpublished work based upon the pre-theoretical background assumptions presupposed by their scholarly projects. Some texts show up as legitimate while others do not. This kind of approach presupposes that within Foucault's writings there exists a system of sorts which could be misrepresented if we do not, as best we can, distinguish between the published and unpublished work.4

In Foucault scholarship there is a central argument by which scholars situate their methodology. The argument goes as follows:

P1. There is a sharp and transparent demarcation between Foucault's published and unpublished work.

P2. Foucault's published work should be prioritized over his unpublished work.

P2a. Foucault's unpublished work should not be used.

C. Foucault's unpublished work, if used at all, only functions as a "supplement" for the complete evidence found in the published work.

The first claim is simply assumed as a tacit practice of textual scholarship in general. It can be seen to be assumed and practically implemented, though perhaps tacitly, by almost all Foucault scholars and editors who weigh in on this question. That is, to weigh in on the question of the importance of the published vs. the unpublished work necessitates the assumed existence of a demarcation between the two. The second claim (P2), and its radicalization (P2a), are held, sometimes tacitly, by most editors and many Foucault scholars. Scholars and editors often disagree about claim two and the conclusion but leave the first claim intact. However, I will argue that even though scholars seem to agree about the first claim, their tacit and often unacknowledged demarcation criteria are different. I demonstrate four of these common demarcation criteria (publication, publication*, authorization, and publicness). This means that within scholarly discourse there is not one set of published texts but many unacknowledged sets.

Instead of searching for abstract and universally applicable demarcation criteria, I argue that scholars should instead become more explicit about how their projects presuppose certain pre-theoretical values that allow particular texts to be prioritized. It is at this time, when all of Foucault's notes are in the process of being transcribed by artificial intelligence, that we ought to become clear about these long overdue methodological problems.5 That is, we must first answer the question how do we read Foucault and for what purpose?6

2. Interpretive Œuvre and Final Wishes

The case of Foucault's work is a complex one because of a tension between Foucault's own methodological insights and his final wishes. On the one hand, Foucault is very clear that when we constitute an author's œuvre, the complete works, the decision about which texts to include is always a matter of interpretation. The texts that make up an author's œuvre are neither an immediate nor certain unity but, rather, an interpreted construction. An œuvre is always united by a particular function that makes use of the name of an author to achieve that unity. In a work published in 1969 Foucault states, "this 'author function' […] results from a complex operation whose purpose is to construct the rational entity we call an author."7 The author function then plays a central role in determining which texts are included or excluded as proper to an œuvre. Foucault writes in the first edition of The Archaeology of Knowledge,

A collection of texts […] can be designated by the sign of a proper name. But this designation (even leaving to one side problems of attribution) is not a homogeneous function […]. In fact, if one speaks so indiscriminately and unreflectingly of an author's œuvre, it is because one imagines it to be defined by a certain expressive function.8

According to Foucault, which texts are included in an œuvre is always a matter of interpretation. Foucault is very explicit that these functions are complex. He writes,

The establishment of a complete œuvre presupposes a number of choices that are difficult to justify or even to formulate: is it enough to add to the texts published by an author those that he intended for publication but which remained unfinished by the fact of his death? Should one also include all his sketches and first drafts, with all their corrections and crossings out? Should one add sketches that he himself abandoned? And what status should be given to letters, notes, reported conversations, transcriptions of what he said made by those present at the time, in short, to that vast mass of verbal traces left by an individual at his death, and which speak in an endless confusion so many different languages (langages)?9

According to Foucault's own writings, the establishment of an œuvre is based upon certain kinds of decisions that require interpretation and evaluation. Not only that, but these choices and demarcation criteria are, according to Foucault, difficult to explicate or even formulate.

However, in Foucault scholarship this comes into conflict with the history of Foucault's own life. Foucault was very careful about his public image as an author and exercised a quite stunning and obsessive degree of control over his writings. This was particularly the case when it came to how his work would be treated after his death. Foucault is said to have told his friends, "Don't pull the Max Brod Kafka-trick on me."10 Kafka wrote what were essentially two short wills in which he asked Brod to burn his diaries, manuscripts, letters, drawings and, interestingly, journal publications.11 Max Brod, against these wishes, went on to edit and publish Kafka's literary estate including his manuscripts, diaries, and letters. While it is a matter of debate in Kafka scholarship whether or not Kafka meant what he wrote in those wills,12 it is far clearer in the case of Foucault. It is also clear that Foucault participated in playing a similar 'trick' on Friedrich Nietzsche.13

In 1977 Foucault told a friend, "When I die, I will leave no manuscripts" and in a letter found in his apartment, written eighteen months before his death, Foucault wrote, "I leave my apartment and all it contains to Daniel Defert. No posthumous publications."14 Further, reports suggest that Foucault asked Hervé Guibert to destroy some of his unfinished work.15 While Kafka's intentions may be disputed by scholars, Foucault's intentions were clear because he himself carried out some of this work. Not only did Foucault leave the letter detailing no posthumous publications but actively tried to make this impossible. Shortly before his death Foucault began destroying hundreds of pages of notebooks, letters, and manuscripts including a manuscript about the painter Manet.16 As Foucault's friend Gilbert put it, Foucault left behind, "only polished bones around a black diamond, gleaming and impenetrable, securely closed in on its secretes."17

The fact that Foucault suggested that an author's œuvre is a matter of discourse and interpretation with no final answer is in tension with the fact that Foucault tried, and eventually failed, to exercise tight control over his estate. This tension is made very clear by David Macy who writes,

Foucault was ready to argue that the 'complete works' of Nietzsche should perhaps contain the notebooks in which laundry lists are jumbled up with outlines of aphorisms. He took the view that the same argument did not apply to his own laundry lists. In death, the writer who proclaimed the death of the author continues to exercise authorial rights and privileges.18

If one takes Foucault's last wishes seriously, then none of his unpublished works ought to be used. If one follows his writings on method and his approach to Nietzsche scholarship, all of Foucault's work is fair game.19

Foucault argues that the use of the term œuvre changes when discussing different authors.20 What Foucault says about the œuvre of different authors, can be made even more particular when looking at his own work. Although different scholars and editors talk about the published work of Foucault, the published œuvre, they have in mind very different sets of textual objects.

3. The Disagreement in Broad Strokes

The first key to understanding why scholars differ so radically is to see it as both a legal disagreement and as a methodological disagreement. As Clare O'Farell argues,

As a number of commentators have observed, these kinds of considerations are particularly pertinent to Foucault's own work […] there have been protracted battles over the status and publication of the typescripts and audiotapes of his lectures and other materials.21

These battles have been a matter of legality for Foucault's executors. There have also been parallel methodological battles among editors and scholars. This division between those who use or exclude the unpublished works in Foucault scholarship was aptly summarized by Brad E. Stone. In his 2004 review of Foucault's lectures in Foucault Studies, Stone writes,

There are probably some Foucauldians who object to the publication of the lectures. Those who take Foucault's final wishes seriously consider the lectures "unpublished" by Foucault, and they should therefore be "unpublished" today, lest one turn Foucault into an author of an oeuvre.22

One scholar that holds such a view is Mark G. E. Kelly. Kelly suggests that we ought to prioritize the published works that Foucault authorized over his unauthorized unpublished works generally. He writes,

In the light of all this material of Foucault's that now swirls around us, I think there is some necessity to insist on the privileged status of the material that he actually saw fit to publish, namely Foucault's canonical books and substantial essays published during his lifetime.23

Despite Kelly's strong assertion, he is quick to qualify this "canon." He suggests that some material which is not published should not be strictly considered unpublished because it is canonical. That is, although it is unpublished, it should be given privileged status analogous to the published work. He writes,

We could include in the canonical category those talks of his that he allowed to have published during his lifetime, and those interviews of his which he authorized for publication. He insisted on editorial approval for interviews, hence they represent somewhat considered opinions of his, although the questions he addresses are dictated by others. […] [Additionally,] there are some lectures from these series that he did allow to be published during his lifetime (these are, namely, the first two lectures of Society Must Be Defended, published first in an Italian collection in 1977, the fourth lecture of Security, Territory, Population, published as 'Governmentality', and an excerpt from the 1983 lectures series), but the fact that these are relatively few can be taken to underline that he did not generally think of the lectures as publishable material.24

Those who hold that Foucault's unpublished works should not be used often appeal to moralistic principles of disloyalty or embarrassment to justify their point. For example, David Macey writes,

The situation created by Foucault is a frustrating one, but it has preempted the emergence of the almost embarrassingly productive postmortem industry that has grown up around Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir as more and more 'unknown' manuscripts are disinterred from various cupboards.25

More often than not, these kinds of moralistic ethical objections do not lead to methodological discussions. Scholars simply sidestep these objections altogether. For example, Ben Golder writes, "Putting aside for a moment certain ethical considerations pertaining to the use of this serendipitous Nachlass, the lecture courses evidently constitute an invaluable resource for Foucault scholars."26 Others simply embrace the political use of Foucault's work and refuse to be embarrassed by it. Bernard E. Hartcourt, for example, writes,

There are written fragments, aphorisms, books, often times that collide and confront each other. We use the terms sloppily, in shorthand. We anthropomorphize the texts or the oeuvre, when all there is in fact are written passages on which we project meaning and which we deploy for our political purposes. As critical theorists, we should not deny that, or be embarrassed by it, we should embrace it. It forms the heart of the critical method.27

Most scholars that take a less radical track tend to begin by defending themselves from a moral objection over the use of the unpublished work. For example, Lynne Huffer writes, "I know that my insistence on citing an unpublished interview Foucault disliked will be seen by some as disloyal or, at the very least, in bad taste. But I see it differently."28 Huffer then goes on to defend the prioritization of unpublished texts in her work. This can also be seen in the work of James Miller when he justifies including Foucault's interviews. Miller argues that we ought to prioritize some unpublished material because, "A number of these interviews were carefully edited, corrected—and in a few cases, substantially rewritten—by Foucault himself."29 However, Miller goes on to cite Deleuze saying that even those interviews that were not edited by Foucault are no less important because "it is an improvised conversation."30 These claims are in tension with Miller's claim that it is Foucault's published texts which should be our "primary source" for research.31

So, what we see here is accent to the basic framework of prioritizing the published work over the unpublished work and then making exceptions, or excuses, for why certain unpublished material is acceptable to use. Golder is another example of a scholar who understands the published work as primary while regarding the lecture courses as supplements. He writes,

Frequently they supplement and contextualize some of the better-known formulations which appear in the books, lectures and interviews; and, more interestingly, in places they present examples of Foucault revising or contradicting some of the views expressed in his published work.32

Jacob S. Fisher also shares this supplement intuition when he writes,

[…] his Dits et écrits and lectures at the Collège de France, constitute a supplementary Foucault corpus that is little considered in contemporary scholarship—even though this supplementary corpus largely overshadows what might be considered Foucault's "work."33

Some argue for this supplemental approach on the grounds of reconstruction. For example, in order to reconstruct Foucault's "Christian book," Jeremy R. Carrette, in the absence at the time of the full published work, puts together a variety of what he calls "fragments." He does this in order to "bring together a selection of central documents, including a course outline, lecture transcripts and published extracts."34 This is then further supplemented with "fragments from interviews and lectures in the early 1980s which further supplement these central texts but on the whole the other pieces only replicate or elaborate material contained in this selection."35 In addition to the interviews, it is also often claimed that Foucault's lectures can provide such a supplement. Take, for example, the position put forward by Brad Elliott Stone who writes,

These lecture courses are valuable for Foucault scholarship not only because they supplement the arguments given by Foucault in his published monographs during the same period […], but also because there are topics that, although perhaps mentioned briefly or implicitly in the monographs, come to the foreground in the lectures in a way that goes beyond the published texts.36

This supplemental approach implicitly accepts that there is a clear and concise distinction between the published and unpublished works. Only after such a demarcation is accepted, these authors argue that the unpublished works should only be used to supplement the published works.

One strand of this line of thinking questions whether or not we ought to constitute Foucault as the author of a published œuvre at all. Jonathan Simons comes down in favor of constituting a Foucauldian œuvre. He writes,

Yet there is no need to refuse to discuss Foucault as an author of an oeuvre, as some commentators do. Certainly, there are features of Foucault's work that resist defining it as a unified oeuvre. […] However, all such twists and turns can be integrated into comprehensive interpretive schemes.37

Some scholars suggest, or simply assume, that Foucault has a single œuvre.38 Some interpreters, such as J. G. Bird and Michael Walzer, have no qualms with trying to establish the definitive and final meaning of Foucault's texts.39 Walzer even explicitly states that he is making Foucault into a subject and assumes he is "an author in the conventional sense" in that he bears the responsibility of his texts.40 On the other side of the spectrum, Mike Gane rejects such interpretations of Foucault that function like post mortem after the death of the author. An interpretation that takes Foucault to be an author in the conventional sense "requires [Foucault] to be pinned down and examined."41 That is, they require one Foucault which, after his death, does not change. David Armstrong claims that there are "many different Foucaults" and the kind of reading that tries to find the 'real Foucault' is simply "some medieval hegemonic gesture" that attempts to grasp what he really meant. Additionally, Armstrong claims that the unity of authorship makes no difference whatsoever to their interpretation. If it turned out there was no historical Foucault at all, or many Foucaults, no disastrous consequences follow. In establishing Foucault's influence, his goal is to "explore the connections between some texts that bear his imprimatur and the reader."42 Despite his radicality, Armstrong still relies on the idea that some of Foucault's texts are published and that this is an important fact.43

This quick overview has shown that there are methodological differences within Foucault scholarship even about what texts are legitimate. However, what seems to be clear is that there is almost universal agreement that a distinction between the published and unpublished work is a coherent idea in itself. What we find in practice, however, is that scholars draw this line of demarcation in very different ways based on the needs of their research projects and the tacit demarcation criteria they accept.

4. The Published, the Authorized, and the Public

In order to explicate some of the problems developed and discussed within scholarship, I will turn to the question of what counts as the published work. When scholars populate the set of text that they categorize as published, they use different criteria and thus generate non-coextensive sets of texts. Since these criteria are often tacit, this allows disagreement to preserve a veneer of agreement. However, the agreement about how to treat the term "published" hides the fact that scholars and editors are using it in several mutually exclusive ways. I will highlight four different ways in which scholars use the term (published vs. published*, published vs. authorized, and published vs. public). All four of these face historical challenges in the publication history of Foucault's work that disrupt their smooth application and use as universal demarcation criteria.

Published vs. Published*

Foucault scholars often use the term "published" in at least two ways that must be distinguished. Some use the term "published" to refer to the works currently available to scholars while others use the term to refer to the work Foucault published during his life. For example, Bernard E. Harcourt states the following in his essay on Foucault and Nietzsche, "I will not discuss the as-yet unpublished manuscripts, remarkable as they are […]. I prefer to leave those manuscripts aside until they are published. Instead, I will focus on those published essays and lectures."44 Harcourt then goes on to list several published works he is using which were not actually published or authorized by Foucault during his lifetime. When he uses the term "published," he is literally using it to refer to whether or not a text has been put into production and is publicly available. It has nothing to do with the intentions of Foucault, the author.

Harcourt is somewhat of an exception in his use of the term "published." Most scholars, when they use the term "published," are referring specifically to the works that Foucault published during his lifetime.45 The presupposition in such accounts is that publication itself is an unproblematic criteria of prioritization. However, this particular demarcation criteria quickly demonstrates problems when one tries to universalize it.

One way the "published" vs. "unpublished" distinction breaks down is through rejections and multiple editions. Although it is hard to imagine today, Foucault's work did receive rejections as any other scholar does. For example, in 1961 Foucault attempted to publish his first work, Madness and Civilization, and was turned down by several publishing houses.46 It was famously rejected by the publisher Gallimard. Foucault's work was later accepted to be published by Librairie Plon in 1961.47 It was again published in 1964 through Collection 10/18, which was the pocketbook arm of Plon publishing. Gallimard did not publish the work until a later edition in 1972.

Such a history might lead us to think of these as the same published work. However, they differ greatly. The original text, published before its defense at the Sorbonne in May 1961, was a large text of 673 (plus xi) pages and included a complete preface and an appendix only available in this edition. The 1964 edition was a small 308 pages, heavily abridged, and with only a few chapters which were heavily condensed. Foucault eventually disowned the 1964 edition, but it nevertheless became the basis of the 1967 English translation. The original 1964 edition was republished again in 1972. The original text was also reorganized and edited in 1972 when it was eventually published by Gallimard as a 583 page tome. However, the original preface, which was criticized by Derrida,48 was replaced by a 2-page introduction and two appendices were added: "Madness, the Absence of Work" and "My Body, This Paper, This Fire." At the same time in 1972, Gallimard released a paperback Tel Quel edition of 585 pages that excluded the appendices and was again reprinted in 1976 and 1987.49

Which of these texts are we to take as authoritative? One might think, if one tries to follow an author's intention, that if Foucault decided to change what material was included in a text one would have to follow his intentions and ignore earlier editions. If one is focused on history one might suggest that we only make use of those texts that were approved for publication at that time in history.50

However, the actual history of Foucault's texts frustrates both methodological intuitions. This is because there are, even if we bracket ourselves to a historical year, multiple simultaneous texts. Since the two texts published in 1972 are not identical, there simply are two separate published texts. Additionally, this is not a singular phenomenon in the history of this text. As was pointed out by Stuart Elden in 2015, in addition to the 1964 abridged version discussed above, Plon also reprinted the original edition in 1964.51 Twice in the history of this text, once in 1964 and again in 1972, two separate and distinct versions of this text were published however the material was not coextensive. Which version are we to give priority? Both are published and both are approved by the author in the same exact year. Which text to prioritize simply cannot be decided based on publication alone.

As many scholars note, much of Foucault's work was never intended to be published. It was published after his death and against his wishes. However, there are also cases in which Foucault's works were published during his life that complicate the idea that the works Foucault published ought to be prioritized. At least one text was published with Foucault's consent but, because of editorial decisions, that consent and authorization was retroactively withdrawn.

In 1968 Foucault did a radio interview with Jean-Pierre El Kabbach. Foucault asked for certain parts of this interview to be edited and removed before publication. However, the interview was published, unedited, in La Quinzaine Littéraire 46 March 1–15, 1969.52 This upset Foucault and he sent a sharply worded letter, dated "sidi Bou Saïd, 3 March 1968," to the magazine which appeared in the journal's next issue (March 15–31) as "Une Mise au point de Michel Foucault."53 Foucault, it is claimed, did not want certain comments about Sartre or admissions about particularities of his past made public. El Kabbach then apologized in print.54 Despite being published, this text was clearly not authorized in important and revealing ways. This example and the release of multiple editions in the same year illustrates that simply because something is "published" does not mean that it ought to be prioritized as "published*." By "published*" scholars and editors really mean at least two things. First, they mean published by Foucault during his lifetime and, second, intentionally published. This notion of a text being intentionally published brings us to our second criteria: "Authorization."

Publication vs. Authorization

The first modification of the publication criteria, as one might expect, is that the publication should also have authorization. When scholars say we should focus on the published works, what they really mean is the authorized works.

One of the first ways the dichotomy of "published" vs. "unpublished" breaks down is between texts that were published during Foucault's lifetime and those that were authorized but not published during his lifetime. Take, for example, the statement made by the editors of Michel Foucault: A Research Companion who write in their preface, "Throughout the book we have made use of not only the writings published by Foucault himself or with his knowledge but also the lecture series held at Collège de France and elsewhere that have been published after his death."55 Here we see an important distinction arise: when scholars say "published," they often not only include the work published during his lifetime by him, but also those writings which he had authorized and knew about.

Ten years after Foucault's death, a four-volume work, Dits et écrits, was published by Daniel Defert and François Ewald containing 364 texts. These volumes contained mostly unproblematic material that was published during Foucault's lifetime. The publication of Dits et ecrits sparked a strong reaction in France because it constituted an œuvre of Foucault. Véronique Mottier summarizes several French reviews at the time of publication as follows:

Publication of the Dits et ecrits has sparked controversies in France over the apparent paradox of regrouping the 'oeuvre' of the 'author' who has probably done most to problematize both these notions. These controversies mirror some of the secondary literature on Foucault, which similarly includes somewhat surreal discussions of the legitimacy of treating Foucault as the author of his writings.56

In addition to the construction of an œuvre, a second problem also arose. Foucault's strict ban on "No posthumous publications" was interpreted intentionally in terms of authorization. Dits et ecrits included texts which were authorized by Foucault but did not appear before his death. This text was foundational in creating a Foucault canon that included texts not published during his lifetime. As Derek Robins summarizes,

Dits et Ecrits, 1954–1988 was published in four volumes by Gallimard in 1994. The Editors—Daniel Defert and François Ewald with the collaboration of Jacques Lagrange—outlined in their 'Presentation' the scope of the collection and the principles to which they had adhered in carrying out the work. Respecting Foucault's injunction that there should be no posthumous publication (of work unpublished during his lifetime), the edition was a collection of everything—except his books—that Foucault had published either in France or abroad, including late, delayed texts published between 1985 and 1988. The editors defined the 'corpus' of Foucault's work, explicitly excluding the publication of his courses of lectures at the Collège de France 'to the extent that they have not been the object of a publication authorized by Michel Foucault during his lifetime.'57

That is to say, some of these texts do not fit strictly into the published category, but because of their clear authorization by Foucault, they were included.58 Stone weighs in on this debate and equates published with those texts "cleared for publication." He writes,

The Foucauldian oeuvre at the time of Foucault's death would look like this: the published manuscripts of Foucault; the interviews he gave that were published in magazines and journals; and essays written by Foucault as prefaces, articles, and interventions. With Foucault's death, some would argue that if scholars were to turn Foucault into an oeuvre, these would be the materials that would be the canon (and nothing more). This is what makes Dits et Écrits acceptable; all of its entries were previously published by Foucault within his lifetime or cleared for publication before his death.59

The inclusion of authorized but unpublished material has led some commentators, such as Elden, to consider this a "posthumous collection" rather than a "Posthumous publication."60 Nevertheless, it includes work that was not published before Foucault's death and the inclusion of that material explicitly relies on the notion of "authorization."

If we are to take "authorization" seriously, as these editors and scholars do, then we are faced with the problem that some texts Foucault authorized to be published, he later disowned or sought to suppress. Foucault tried to have the first edition of his first authored book suppressed later in his life: Mental Illness and Psychology.61 As Hubert Dreyfus pointed out in his introduction to that work: "He left a note categorically refusing all reprint rights to the first version, published in 1954, just two years after he received his Diplôme de Psycho-Pathologie from the University of Paris, and he tried unsuccessfully to prevent the translation of the radically revised 1962 version, presented here."62Mental Illness and Psychology was originally published in 1954 and then revised in 1962. Foucault essentially rewrote the second half of the text in 1962.63 Since Foucault retroactively de-authorized the first edition of this work, some scholars, such as Mark Kelly, think we should exclude it from Foucault's "canon." Kelly writes, "The reason I speak of canonical books is that Foucault sought to have his first single-authored book, Mental Illness and Psychology, suppressed later in his life, which puts it in a dubious category of its own."64 As we have seen, scholars sometimes hold that authorized work that was unpublished during Foucault's life, ought to be prioritized as though it were published. However, if we are to take this seriously, then what are we to do with works that were published but retroactively deauthorized by Foucault? This demonstrates not only that publication alone cannot function as a demarcation criteria, but that "authorization" also has problems if consistently applied.

Published vs. Public

One intuitive criteria for prioritizing the published work is that the act of publication implies Foucault's willingness to make that work public. However, Foucault not only communicated with the public through his publications but through a variety of mediums such as interviews and lectures. The etymological origin of "publication" can be traced back to old French "publicacion" and Latin "publicatio" meaning "a making public."65 The question of whether or not something should be considered approved for publication has to do with the degree to which Foucault was willing to make such a view public.

Gilles Deleuze, who worked with Foucault, captured one of the central questions about Foucault's work; how to handle public interviews. He writes, "If Foucault's interviews form an integral part of his work, it is because they extend the historical problematization of each of his books into the construction of the present problem, be it madness, punishment or sexuality."66 Several prominent commentators have agreed with Deleuze such as James Miller who writes, "The decision by Ewald and Defert to include all of Foucault's interviews as an integral part of his oeuvre is one that I agree with."67 Foucault himself said of his interviews, "[They] tend to be reflections on a finished book that may help me to define another possible project. They are something like a scaffolding that serves as a link between a work that is coming to an end and another one that's about to begin."68 Many commentators suggest that although they are not published in print, they should be prioritized over works that were not presented to the public in any form.

This kind of reasoning has recently also been applied to Foucault's public lectures. The transcribed lectures were, it is argued by editors, made public and therefore cannot be considered unpublished. Stone sets up this disagreement nicely:

Those who take Foucault's final wishes seriously consider the lectures "unpublished" by Foucault, and they should therefore be "unpublished" today, lest one turn Foucault into an author of an oeuvre. The editors write in the preface of all of the lecture course books that the lectures should not be considered "unpublished" because Foucault delivered them in the form of public lectures and, furthermore, the books are not publications of Foucault's lecture notes (although the notes were sometimes consulted); rather, they are transcriptions from audio tapes recorded by students of Foucault.69

Further, this is a claim of which Foucault himself was aware. In 1982 Foucault said, "I understand that there are some people recording the lectures. Very well, you are obviously within your rights. The lectures here are public."70 Foucault himself had no illusions about the audience of these lectures.

Further complicating things, Foucault was often required to publish lecture course summaries, aside from 1983 and 1984, while he was ill, Foucault published summaries of his courses in annuaire due Collège de France.71 These are clearly considered published, but to what extent they should be prioritized over the actual lectures themselves seems to be up for debate. These summaries were written after the courses were taught and Foucault would highlight the aspects he found most important. This means that there are central parts of the courses we now know are excluded from the summaries based on other recovered materials. For example, as Elden points out, the summary for Society Must be Defended barely mentions race while it was a central topic of the live lecture.72

The distinction between published summaries, recorded lectures, and lecture notes becomes important in deciding which work is legitimate. Foucault himself threw away much of his own lecture materials. This supports the report of Pierre Nora, who claimed that Foucault said of the material in his lectures, "There is a lot of rubbish, but also lots of work and ways to take it that might be useful to the kids."73 While it is unclear what authority such hearsay has, it is clear that because Foucault destroyed his own work, he did not want all of his lecture notes to become public. What this suggests is, first, that it should not be assumed the material in the text of Foucault's lectures is material he agreed with. However, the second part of the reported sentence suggests that the material is not necessarily seen by Foucault as useless. Such a claim is supported by the fact that he gave the lectures themselves.

What is clear about the lectures, which Foucault had control over, is that he did not intend to publish them. As Mark Kelly writes, "Then we have the lectures series that have appeared only posthumously, which Foucault was confident enough to deliver publicly, and which were based on written scripts, hence were considered, but which he did not deign to publish."74 Those lectures which Foucault did end up publishing were out of his control. As Arpad Szakolczai point out, "The Tanner lectures of 1979 (DE29D[)] and the James lectures of 1980 (DE295) were only published in 1981 (over these, Foucault had no legal control anyway, as contract for many of Foucault's American lectures included the right of the university to publish them)."75 It seems up for debate whether Foucault would have published these lectures if he had remained in editorial control.

The publication of Foucault's lectures that he did not authorize is often justified by the fact that they were words Foucault himself made public. The editors of the text Abnormal: Lectures at the College de France, 1974–1975 make it crystal clear that they are using public presentation as a demarcation criteria of what counts as "unpublished." They write,

This edition is based on the words delivered in public by Foucault. […] Strictly speaking it is not a matter of unpublished work, since this edition reproduces words uttered publicly by Foucault, excluding the often highly developed written material he used to support his lectures.76

Many of the posthumously published lectures were based on edited transcriptions of audio recordings made in public. These publications meet the editors own criteria of publicness.

However, recently published lectures do not meet this criteria. In particular, the recently published Lectures on the Will to Know has completely abandoned the previous methodological principle that they would follow the public recordings. This is because recordings do not exist. The editor's statement in the foreword reads, "This edition is based on the words delivered in public by Foucault. It gives transcriptions of these words as literally as possible. […] For this year, 1970–1971, we do not have recordings of Foucault's lectures. The text is therefore based on his preparatory manuscript."77 This demonstrates that editors contradict their own claim that the texts are based upon oral public delivery and can therefore be considered public.78 It is very clear that even if the lecture was given to the public orally, the preparatory manuscript was not. Using the manuscript is therefore unjustifiable based on the publicness criteria.

Foucault did not present the preparatory manuscript to the public. It was only the oral lecture that was public. As the editors make clear in the introduction to his lectures, his preparatory manuscript was not in a publishable format and was therefore edited. While we can clearly say that the oral presentation was public, we can also clearly say that Foucault's preparatory manuscript was not.79 Foucault would routinely deviate from his lecture notes in various ways during oral presentation. There is evidence Foucault did so in this lecture.80 Transcribing and publishing the words Foucault said publicly is justified based on the publicness criteria. However, publishing lecture notes that Foucault never intended for public consumption cannot be justified since the notes and oral delivery cannot be assumed to be co-extensive. This undermines the argument of the editors that they are not publishing posthumous texts because they are only transcribing what was said publicly.81 Once publicness criteria are acceptable and the distinction between written and spoken discourse collapses, then a whole laundry list of documents can be considered published.

5. Confrontations in Criteria

A final example explicates how these demarcation criteria come into conflict. In 1966 Foucault gave a radio broadcast entitled "Utopies et hétérotopies" to France Culture, France's foremost cultural radio station.82 Ionel Schein, who heard the lecture, invited Foucault to give the same lecture at the Cercle d'études architecturales (Circle of Architectural Studies). A stenographer made a copy of Foucault's lecture which was later distributed to members.83 Foucault at the time was reluctant to publish it.84 However, excerpts of the talk appeared in a journal in 1968.85

It wasn't until shortly before Foucault's death that he allowed the manuscript of the talk, unreviewed by Foucault, to be displayed to the public at the Internationale Bauaustellung Berlin in 1984.86 Later in 1984, a fuller version of this talk was published as "Des espaces autres. une conférence inédite de Michel Foucault" in Architecture, Mouvement, Continuité, which was later translated and republished.87

The editors of Diacritics, who published a translation of it, argue it is not part of Foucault's official corpus because it was not reviewed and published by Foucault [publication*],88 Defert and Anthony Vidler argue it is legitimate because it was authorized [authorization],89 Michiel Dehaene and Lieven De Cauter also argue it was legitimate but emphasize the fact that it was made public [publicness].90 However, this disagreement has tended to ignore the original radio presentation by which these ideas first became public. A consistent emphasis on publicness would also prioritize the broadcast.

Different criteria include or exclude different documents in the history of this text. According to "publication*," the transcribed excerpts from the lecture would count but the radio broadcast, the public presentation in Berlin and the transcription published after his death would not count. According to "authorization," the publication of the text in 1984 would be acceptable but the radio broadcast, the 1968 publication of excerpts, and the public presentation of the text in Berlin would not count. Under the "publicness" criteria, the radio show and the Berlin piece would count since both were public presentations. Additionally, the transcript of the lectures would also count, but, only after 1984 when it was made public. The texts of the lecture that circulated among the architects after the lecture, however, would not count. This means that even regarding the history of a single work, different criteria demand that scholars work with different texts. These texts vary considerably.

As Kelvin Knight and Vidler point out, the radio broadcast contains different material than any of the published work.91 From the perspective of those holding the publicness criteria, the radio broadcast was the foundation upon which the later work developed. Knight concludes that this work was not, as it seems in the published work, about urban architectural space but about fictional space within literature as it was in the broadcast.92 This makes clear that depending on which criteria one makes use of, one is given different texts and these different texts presuppose very different philosophies.

6. Scholarship without False Dichotomies: A Focus on the Particular

I have demonstrated that scholars often implicitly accept that there exists a clear demarcation between the published and the unpublished work. However, scholars make use of different criteria to justify where this demarcation is made. As I have shown, these all contain historical difficulties such that no single criteria can demarcate all possible historical cases. I have shown that these often tacit demarcation criteria lead to different sets of texts being considered as published.

This should lead us to a central question: Why do we read Foucault and what for? My contention is not that scholars ought to agree on necessary and sufficient conditions of a certain piece of text being part of the published work. I do not think this would be practically achievable given the historical complexities of Foucault's work.

Different projects find different pieces of evidence important. There is no reason to think there should be only one kind of project. I see no reason why a biography of Foucault should be barred from referring to his letters. A work on the history of the publication of Foucault's texts might find the book contracts Foucault signed of immense value. A work on speech writing for public philosophy in France would find the text of Foucault's public lectures of immeasurable value. The point is, that projects frame the kind of methodological concerns which make individual texts valuable. It is perfectly natural that different projects will find different evidence important to prioritize for various reasons. Expecting universal agreement about the value of particular texts would be to make a kind of category error. This is, in fact, one of the ways which Foucault's very analysis of authorship frees us.

However, and I cannot emphasize this enough, I am not saying that facts about the publication history are superfluous. It is an important fact that the interview published in La Quinzaine Littéraire was not published as agreed upon. It is an important fact that Foucault did not attach his name to some work he published. It is important that Foucault changed texts from edition to edition. These are important concrete historical facts about particular texts. What is not important, in my view, is finding a single and universal methodological principle that allows us to decide in every case whether a piece of text is part of the set designated published or the set designated unpublished.

As scholars of Foucault and Foucault's philosophy, one must admit there is no single unchallenged demarcation between the published work and the unpublished. Each criteria, applied universally, is inconsistent and irreconcilable with historical evidence. Multiple criteria applied simultaneously generates mutually exclusive and non-coextensive sets.

We ought to become explicit about why a piece of text, in its material particularity, is valuable to our projects. In particular, we should follow Foucault's own example when he said of Nietzsche's works that we ought to return to the manuscripts themselves.93 In this sense, one would no longer write about the "work" Madness and Civilization in abstract terms but instead refer specifically to those editions that are of import to the project. Such an approach would require an explanation of how and why they are important.

For example, we can imagine a project being interested in the philosophy to which Foucault publicly attached his imprimatur. If such a scholarly project is interested in the final form of Foucault's philosophy, then it should start with the individual texts to which Foucault publicly attached his imprimatur. Such a project should, however, not neglect the complex historical and contextual evidence surrounding the status of Foucault's imprimatur on those material objects that constitute individual texts. If one's project values Foucault's public imprimatur, then the set of valuable texts is not coextensive with the set of published texts. It would necessarily exclude his contributions and publications in the left press that remained unsigned as well as his published, but anonymous, conversations with Thierry Voeltzel.94 Simply because Foucault's words are published during his life does not mean Foucault publicly attached his imprimatur to those words. By focusing on Foucault's imprimatur, one no longer has need of a strict "published" vs. "unpublished" dichotomy. One might even go further to specify not just works and editions, but particular material objects.

The failure of the published or unpublished dichotomy to capture the world is demonstrated best by focusing on the rich histories of individual texts as material objects. Consider, for example, that Foucault gave a first edition copy of his Raymond Roussel to the radio journalist Alain Trutat with a very short interpretation, or at least description of the function, of the text itself (Figure 1).

Figure 1 

Michel Foucault, Raymond Roussel (Gallimard: Paris, 1963), title page 2 [ref. 50271].95

He writes, "For Alain Trutat, because he allowed me to talk about Roussel – with best regards."96 The point here is not that this is a discourse changing interpretation of Foucault's own work. However, what it does demonstrate is that this text exemplifies physio-graphic characteristics different from other texts of the same edition and these differences are part of Foucault's writing.

An argument can be made that the text originally printed here in the first edition (1963) is published despite the bewildering history of its publication.97 When we focus on individual material objects, rather than the abstraction of "the work" or even "edition," the question of the division between the published and the unpublished can be radically questioned. Should we categorize this particular text, this material object, as published or unpublished? Should this text be considered authorized? Should the writing in this text be considered public or private?98 While the type on the page released to the public in 1963 may have been made public, the hand-written annotation by Foucault's hand certainly was not. When we focus on this unique material object, which bears the traces of Michel Foucault, it becomes clear it is both published and unpublished.

7. Two objections

The traces of Foucault's work left after his death create a problematic situation. One might think that the source of the problem is only Foucault himself. However, closer scrutiny of scholarly practices in philosophy more generally reveal that this is not an idiosyncrasy of Foucault's life alone. As Foucault himself noted, after editing the complete works of Nietzsche in French, these were also difficulties for editing Nietzsche's work. Foucault's arguments have proven the test of time. The tacit demarcation criteria I have articulated among Foucault scholars are also present among Nietzsche scholars as I have argued elsewhere.99

The tacit assumption that there can be a clear distinction between published and unpublished work is not only found in scholarship on Foucault and Nietzsche but is a ubiquitous presupposition within standard commentaries on Descartes, Locke, Berkeley, Bentham, Kant, and even Derrida.100 Publication itself is messy and such a widespread acceptance of the dichotomy between published and unpublished works points to a larger problem in historical scholarship to which we ought to attend. However, this goes beyond the scope of this essay.

A second objection might be that many scholars argue there exists not one Foucault but many Foucaults. One of the freeing things about the ideas expressed in Foucault's texts is that authorial intention and even an author are not necessary for discourse formation. I would readily admit there are many ways in which to read Foucault and, as I have demonstrated in this essay, many ways to demarcate between published and unpublished texts. When we include not only scholarly use, but the varied use of Foucault for artistic and applied purposes these expand considerably. However, Foucault scholars, those interested in interpreting his texts, all admit that there are better and worse ways to read Foucault.101 Foucault himself suggested that certain forms of editing and interpretation can deform (déformations) texts and lead to errors (erreurs) and omissions (omissions).102 The implicit idea here, shared by most scholars, is not only that there are many ways to interpret Foucault, many Foucaults, but that some are more plausible than others in certain contexts. If there is to be any answer to these questions, if an answer could be possible at all, my argument holds that we first need to ask; "how do we read Foucault and for what purpose?"

8. Conclusion

I have argued that the dichotomy between the published or unpublished offers an insufficient framework to answer the question of how we read Foucault. Further, this framework actively conceals the deep methodological disagreements that find their source in tacit criteria that privilege non-coextensive sets of texts. Instead, I argue that by focusing on the values of the projects at hand and the individual texts in question, we can avoid needless abstraction and overgeneralization. We ought to reject any criteria that claims to universally demarcate between the false dichotomy of published and unpublished. Each textual artifact is materially unique and carries the burden of a deep and complex history to which we ought to bear witness in our scholarship. Explicating how we are using particular texts and why those texts are valuable to our particular projects would allow us to avoid historically falsifiable abstractions and focus on the material objects and their history. Let us return, as Foucault himself suggests, to the manuscripts themselves.


1Jacob S. Fisher, "What is an Oeuvre? Foucault and Literature," Configurations 7, no. 2 (Spring 1999): 286. 

2Stuart Elden, Foucault's Last Decade (Malden: Polity Press, 2016), 4. 

3By Foucault scholarship I mean those who have a focused research interest in Foucault's writings themselves. That research putting forward an interpretation intended to explicate those texts which might be referred to as Foucault studies. I do not mean those that simply make use of Foucault's work but are not interested in interpreting him (i.e. applied Foucault in criminology or music theory). 

4It is worth pointing out that Foucault himself thought works could be deformed (déformations) and this could lead to errors (erreurs) and omissions (omissions), see Michel Foucault and Gilles Deleuze, "Introduction générale," in Œuvres complètes de F. Nietzsche, vol. V: Le Gai Savoir. Fragments posthumes (1881–1882) (Paris: Gallimard, 1967), II. 

5Marie-Laure Massot, Arianna Sforzini, and Vincent Ventresque, "Transcribing Foucault's handwriting with Transkribus," Journal of Data Mining and Digital Humanities (2019). 

6It is important to note that this is different from the normative question, "how should we read Foucault?" 

7Michel Foucault, "The Author Function". Excerpt from "What is an Author?," in Language, Counter-Memory, Practice, trans. D.F. Bouchard and S. Simon, (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1977), 127; Michel Foucault, "Qu'est–ce qu'un auteur?" Bulletin die la Sociéte francaise die philosophie 63, no. 3 (1969): 73–104. 

8Michel Foucault, The Archaeology of Knowledge, trans. by A. M. Sheridan Smith (New York: Vintage Books, 2010), 23; Michel Foucault, L'Archéologie du Savoir (Paris: Gallimard, 1969), 35. 

9Foucault, The Archaeology of Knowledge, 24; Foucault, L'Archéologie du Savoir, 35. 

10John Forester, "Foucault's Face: The Personal is Theoretical," in Foucault Now, ed. James Fauibion (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2014), 112, 127; David Macey, The Lives of Michel Foucault: A Biography, (New York: Verso, 2019), XVII. (This quote is elsewhere represented as: "Don't pull the Max Brod-Kafka trick on me.") 

11Clayton Koelb, "Editions," in Franz Kafka in Context, ed. Carolin Duttlinger (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018), 283–292; James Hawes, Why You Should Read Kafka Before You Waste Your Life, (New York: St. Martin's Press, 2008), 115–117. 

12Clayton Koelb, "Editions," in Franz Kafka in Context, ed. Carolin Duttlinger (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018), 283–292; James Hawes, Why You Should Read Kafka Before You Waste Your Life, (New York: St. Martin's Press, 2008), 115–117; Nili Cohen, "The Betrayed(?) Wills of Kafka and Brod," Law & Literature 27, no. 1 (2015): 121. 

13Foucault advocated for all of Nietzsche's "Nachlass" to be published because that material which had been published by Nietzsche's sister distorted Nietzsche and made him into a "Anti-Nietzsche" the Nazis could use. Nevertheless, Foucault did advocate that under some circumstances, such as systemic distortions, it can be justified to pull such a trick (Foucault, "Introduction générale," I–IV). 

14Stuart Elden, Foucault's Last Decade (Malden: Polity Press, 2016), 2; Macey, The Lives of Michel Foucault, xvii; Sonja K. Foss, Karen A. Foss, and Robert Trapp, Contemporary Perspectives on Rhetoric: 30th Anniversary Edition (Long Grove: Waveland Press, 2014), 350. 

15Macey, The Lives of Michel Foucault, xvii. 

16James Miller, The Passion of Michel Foucault (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1993), 357. 

17Quoted in Miller, The Passion of Michel Foucault, 357. 

18Macey, The Lives of Michel Foucault, XVIII. 

19Foucault, "Introduction générale," I–IV; Foucault, The Archaeology of Knowledge, 24. 

20Foucault, The Archaeology of Knowledge, 24; Foucault, L'Archéologie du Savoir, 35. 

21Clare O'Farrell, Michel Foucault (London: Sage Publications, 2005), 33. 

22Brad Elliott Stone, "Defending Society from the Abnormal The Archaeology of Bio-Power" Foucault Studies no. 1 (December 2004): 77. 

23Mark G. E. Kelly, Foucault and Politics (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2014), 3. 

24Kelly, Foucault and Politics, Introduction. 

25Macey, The Lives of Michel Foucault, XVIII. 

26Ben Golder, "Foucault and the Genealogy of Pastoral Power," Radical Philosophy Review 10, no. 2, (2007): 158. 

27Bernard E. Harcourt, "The Illusion of Influence: On Foucault, Nietzsche and a Fundamental Misunderstanding," Columbia Public Law Research Paper no. 14–627 (2019): 3. 

28Lynne Huffer, Mad for Foucault: Rethinking the Foundations of Queer Theory (New York: Columbia University Press, 2010), 24. 

29Miller, The Passion of Michel Foucault, 388. 

30Miller, The Passion of Michel Foucault, 388. 

31Miller, The Passion of Michel Foucault, 388. 

32Golder, "Foucault and the Genealogy of Pastoral Power," 158. 

33Fisher, "What is an Oeuvre?," 279. 

34It should be noted that Confessions of the Flesh, the fourth volume of The History of Sexuality, has now been published but was not when Carrette wrote this text (Jeremy R. Carrette, "Prologue to a confession of the flesh" in Michel Foucault, Religion and Culture (New York: Routledge, 1999), 44; see also Michel Foucault, Histoire de la sexualité 4: Les aveux de la chair, ed. Frédéric Gros (Paris: Gallimard, 2018)). 

35Foucault, Religion and Culture, 44 ["Christianity, Sexuality, and the Self: Fragments of an Unpublished Volume"]. 

36Stone, "Defending Society from the Abnormal," 77. 

37Jonathan Simons, Foucault and the Political (New York: Routledge, 1995), 7–8. 

38Lynne Huffer, "Foucault's Evil Genius," in Foucault Now, ed. James Fauibion (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2014), 52. 

39J. G. Bird, "Foucault: Power and Politics," in Politics and Social Theory, ed. Peter Lassmann (London: Routledge, 1989), 85–86. 

40Micheal Walzer, "The Politics of Michel Foucault," in Foucault: A Critical Reader, ed. David C. Hoy. (Cambridge: Blackwell Publishers, 1996), 51–52. 

41Mike Gane, "The Form of Foucault," Economy and Society 15, no.1 (February 1986): 111. 

42David Armstrong, "Foucault and the Sociology of Health and Illness: A Prismatic Reading," in Foucault, Health, and Medicine, ed. Robin Bunton and Alan Petersen (New York: Routledge, 2006), 15. 

44Bernard E. Harcourt, "The Illusion of Influence: On Foucault, Nietzsche and a Fundamental Misunderstanding," Columbia Public Law Research Paper no. 14–627 (2019): 3. 

45David M. Halperin, "Michel Foucault, Jean Le Bitoux, and the Gay Science Lost and Found: An Introduction," Critical Inquiry 37, no. 3 (Spring 2011): 377; Kelly, Foucault and Politics, Introduction. 

46Pasquale Pasquino, "Michel Foucault (1926–84): The Will to Knowledge," in Foucault's New Domains, trans. Chloe Chard, eds., Mike Gane and Terry Johnson (New York: Routledge, 1993), 45. 

47It would be interesting to determine whether any changes were made between the submission to Gallimard and Plon. 

48For differences and speculation about why it was removed see: Deborah Cook, "The Limit of Histories: Michel Foucault's Notion of Partage," Canadian Journal of Political and Social Theory/Revue canadienne de théorie politique et sociale XI, no. 3 (1987): 46–47. 

49Sverre Raffnsøe, Morten S. Thaning, and Marius Gudmand-Hoyer, Michel Foucault: A Research Companion (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016), 101 ["The complex lineage of Historie de la follie"]. 

50See for instance Cook, "The Limit of Histories: Michel Foucault's Notion of Partage," 46. 

51Stuart Elden, "A copy of Michel Foucault's Folie et déraison: Histoire de la folie à l'âge classique," Progressive Geographies (August 29, 2015),–copy–of–michel–foucaults–folie–et–deraison–histoire–de–la–folie–a–lage–classique/. 

52Michel Foucault, Foucault Live: Collected Interviews, 1961–1984 (Brooklyn: Semiotext(e), 1996), 474. 

53James Bernauer and Thomas Keenan, "The works of Michel Foucault 1954–1984," in The Final Foucault, eds. James Bernauer and David Rasmussen (Cambridge: The MIT Press, 1987), 126. 

54Macey, The Lives of Michel Foucault, 193. 

55Sverre Raffnsøe, Morten S. Thaning, and Marius Gudmand-Hoyer, Michel Foucault: A Research Companion (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016), xvi. 

56Véronique Mottier, "Foucault Revisited: Recent Assessments of the Legacy," Acta Sociologica 44, no. 4 (2001): 329–330. 

57Derek Robbins, French Post-War Social Theory: International Knowledge Transfer (Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, 2012), 100. 

58It is worth noting that Dits et ecrits, is not coextensive with the texts included in the Pleiade edition (Foucault, Œuvres I, II). 

59Stone, "Defending Society from the Abnormal," 78. 

60Elden, Foucault's Last Decade, Introduction. 

61Drew Ninnis, "Foucault and the Madness of Classifying Our Madness," Foucault Studies no. 21 (June 2016): 121. 

64Kelly, Foucault and Politics, Introduction. 

65It is interesting to note that in Foucault's late work he thought about this explicitly through his work on penance in Tertullian. Foucault suggests that that penance is a kind of showing of oneself, a 'publicatio sui' [Self-publication] (cf. Michel Foucault, "About the Beginning of the Hermeneutics of the Self: Two Lectures at Dartmouth," Political Theory 21, no. 2 (May 1993): 214; cf. Elden, Foucault's Last Decade, 124). 

66Gilles Deleuze, Foucault, ed. and trans. Seàn Hand (New York: Continuum, 2006), 94. 

67Miller, The Passion of Michel Foucault, 388. 

68Michel Foucault, "Interview with Michel Foucault," in Power, vol. 3 of Essential Works of Foucault, 1954–1984, ed. James D. Faubion, trans. Robert Hurley (New York: New Press, 1994), 240. 

69Stone, "Defending Society from the Abnormal," 77–78. 

70Michel Foucault, L'Herméneutique du sujet: Cours au Collège de France (1981–2), ed. Frédéric Gros, (Paris: Gallimard/Seuil, 2001) 378/395–6; trans. by Graham Burchell as The Hermeneutics of the Subject: Lectures at the Collège de France (London: Palgrave, 2005); cited in Elden, Foucault's Final Decade, 3–4. 

71On dis- or a-symmetry, see Foucault's 1975–76 course summary in Annuaire du College de France 1976 (Paris: de France, 1976), 361–366; in English as "War in the Filigree of Peace," trans. Ian McLeod, Oxford Literary Review 4, no. 2 (1980): 15–19; On displacement, see Foucault's summary in Annuare 1978, 445–49, 445; in English as "Foucault at the College de France I: A Course Summary," trans. James Bernauer, Philosophy and Social Criticism 8, no. 2 (Summer 1981): 235–242. 

72Elden, Foucault's Last Decade, 4. 

73Pierre Nora, "Il avait un besoin formidable d'être aimé," L'Evénement de jeudi (18–24 September 1986): 83. 

74Kelly, Foucault and Politics, 3. 

75Arpad Szakolczai, Max Weber and Michel Foucault: Parallel Life-Works (New York: Routledge, 1998), 289n25. 

76Michel Foucault, Abnormal: Lectures at the College de France 1974–1975 (New York: Picador, 2003), xiv–xv. 

77Michel Foucault, Lectures on the Will to Know (New York: Palgrave, 2013), xii. 

78Defert refers to the publication of the lecture of 1970–1971, for which there was no tape, as his "most sacrilegious act" (Daniel Defert, "'I Believe in Time…' Daniel Defert legatee of Michel Foucault's Manuscripts," Revue Recto/Verso no. 6 (September 2010): 3). 

79Daniel Defert, "Course Context" in Michel Foucault, Lectures on the Will to Know (New York: Palgrave, 2013), 263. 

80Foucault, Lectures on the Will to Know, 132n27, 189n*. 

81My claim is only that the publicness criteria does not support the editors' decision. 

82Michel Foucault, Utopies et hétérotopies, CD (INA, Mémoire Vive, 2004 [1966]). 

83Daniel Defert, "Foucault, Space, and the Architects," in Politics/Poetics: Documenta X – The Book, (Ostfildern-Ruit: Cantz Verlag, 1997), 274. 

84Macey, The Lives of Michel Foucault, 186. 

85Michel Foucault, "Des espaces autres," l'Architettura 13 (1968 [1967]): 822–23. 

86Michel Foucault, "Andere Räume," in Stadterneuerung. Idee, Prozess, Ergebnis: Die Reparatur und Rekonstruktion der Stadt [Ausstellungskatalog], eds. IBA (Berlin: Fröhlich & Kaufmann, 1984), 337–340. 

87Michel Foucault, "Des espaces autres. Une conférence inédite de Michel Foucault," Architecture, Mouvement, Continuité 5 (1984 [1967]): 46–49; Michel Foucault, "Of other spaces," trans. J. Miskowiec, Diacritics 16 (1986 [1967]): 22–7; Michel Foucault, "Of other spaces," trans. Lotus, in Rethinking Architecture: A Reader in Cultural Theory, ed. N. Leach (London: Routledge, 1997 [1967]), 330–336; Michel Foucault, "Different Spaces," Aesthetics, Method, and Epistemology: Essential Works of Foucault Volume 2, trans. R. Hurley, ed. J.D. Fabion (London: Penguin, 1998) [1967]), 175–185; Michel Foucault, "Des espaces autres," in Dits et écrits II, 1976–1988, (Paris: Gallimard, 2001 [1967]), 1571–81. 

88Foucault, "Of other spaces," trans. J. Miskowiec, 22n1. 

89Anthony Vidler, "Heterotopias," in AA Files [Architectural Association School of Architecture] no. 69 (2014): 19n11, 18–22. 

90Michiel Dehaene and Lieven De Cauter, "Foreword," in Michel Foucault, "Of other spaces (1967)" in Heterotopia and the City: Public Space and a Postcivil Society, ed. Michiel Dehaene and Lieven De Cauter (New York: Routledge, 2008),13. 

91Kelvin T. Knight, "Placeless Places: Resolving the Paradox of Foucault's Heterotopia," Textual Practices 31, no. 1 (2017): 147; Vidler, "Heterotopias," 19. 

92Knight, "Placeless Places," 147. 

93Michel Foucault, "On Nietzsche. Interview with Jacqueline Piatier Translated by Philipp Kender," Foucault Studies no. 26 (June 2019): 92; Original publication: Michel Foucault, "Sur Nietzsche. Entretien avec Jacqueline Piatier," Cahier de L'Herne 95 (2011): 108–111. 

94Macy, The Lives of Michel Foucault, XIX.; cf. Voeltzel Thierry, Vingt ans et après (Paris: Grasset, 1978); Michel Foucault (anonymous), "Paris 13e: Nous portons plainte contre la police," La cause du peuple J'accuse, (supplement, June 3, 1971): 16–17. 

95Michel Foucault, Raymond Roussel (Gallimard: Paris 1963), title page 2 [Librairie Le Feu Follet. 31, rue Henri Barbusse, 75005 Paris, France. Volume reference number: 50271]. Accessed 2/1/20, https://www.edition––and–precious–books/foucault–raymond–roussel–1963–50271. 

96"Pour Alain Trutat, puisqu'il permet qu'on parle de Roussel, – très amicalement". 

97Macy, The Lives of Michel Foucault, 127–129. 

98I think there is an interesting area to consider audience as a prioritization criteria. This inscription, as well as other documents such as letters, legal documents, and letters of recommendation, are not public however they do have an audience. That audience makes these writings different from Foucault's writing that had no audience at all such as grocery lists. While scholars have commented on "audience" in various ways, to my knowledge it has not been used as a demarcation criteria or consideration, see for instance Nancy Luxton, "Truthfulness, Risk, and Trust in the Late Lectures of Michel Foucault," Inquiry 47, no. 5 (2004): 464–489, 491–493; Stuart Elden, Foucault: The Birth of Power (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2017), 5, 84; David Macey, Michel Foucault (London: Reaktion Books, 2004), 47, 48, 78, 124; Geoffrey Galt Harpham, Shadows of Ethics: Criticism and the Just Society (London: Duke University Press, 1999), 67; Mitchell Dean, "Michel Foucault: 'A Man in Danger'," in Handbook of Social Theory, eds. George Ritzer and Barry Smart (London: Sage Publications, 2003), 324, 324–238. 

99William A.B. Parkhurst, "Does Nietzsche have a 'Nachlass'?," Nietzsche-Studien [Forthcoming]. 

100The following is not an exhaustive list but hints at how widespread this assumption is: Daniel Garber, Descartes Embodied: Reading Cartesian Philosophy Through Cartesian Science (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001), 33; David Berman, Berkeley and Irish Philosophy (New York: Continuum, 2005), 64; Lea Campos Boralevi, Bentham and the Oppressed (New York: De Gryuter, 1984), 142; Gary Banham, Dennis Schulting, Nigel Hems (eds.), The Bloomsbury Companion to Kant (New York: Bloomsbury, 2012), 113; Bryan Hall, The Post-Critical Kant: Understanding the Critical Philosophy through the Opus Postumum (New York: Routledge, 2015), 3; J. Hillis Miller, For Derrida (New York: Fordham University Press, 2009), 74; David Farrell Krell, Phantoms of the Other: Four Generations of Derrida's Geschlecht (New York: State University of New York Press, 2015), ix. 

101Even if they disagree about which ways are better and which ways are worse. 

102Foucault, "Introduction générale," II. 


  1. Armstrong, David. "Foucault and the Sociology of Health and Illness: A Prismatic Reading." In Foucault, Health, and Medicine, edited by Robin Bunton and Alan Petersen, 15–30. New York: Routledge, 2006.

  2. Banham, Gary, Dennis Schulting, and Nigel Hems (eds.). The Bloomsbury Companion to Kant. New York: Bloomsbury, 2012.

  3. Berman, David. Berkeley and Irish Philosophy. New York: Continuum, 2005.

  4. Bernauer, James, and Thomas Keenan. "The Works of Michel Foucault 1954–1984." In The Final Foucault, edited by James Bernauer and David Rasmussen, 119–158. Cambridge: The MIT Press, 1987. DOI:

  5. Bird, J. G. "Foucault: Power and Politics." In Politics and Social Theory, edited by Peter Lassmann, 85–103. London: Routledge, 1989.

  6. Boralevi, Lea Campos. Bentham and the Oppressed. New York: De Gruyter, 1984.

  7. Carrette, Jeremy R. "Prologue to a confession of the flesh." In Michel Foucault, Religion and Culture, 1–47. New York: Routledge, 1999.

  8. Cohen, Nili. "The Betrayed(?) Wills of Kafka and Brod." Law & Literature 27, no. 1 (2015): 1–21. DOI:

  9. Cook, Deborah. "The Limit of Histories: Michel Foucault's Notion of Partage." Canadian Journal of Political and Social Theory/Revue canadienne de théorie politique et sociale XI, no. 3 (1987): 46–55.

  10. Dean, Mitchell. "Michel Foucault: 'A Man in Danger'." In Handbook of Social Theory, edited by George Ritzer and Barry Smart, 324–338. London: Sage Publications, 2003. DOI:

  11. Defert, Daniel. "Course Context." In Michel Foucault, Lectures on the Will to Know, 262–286. New York: Palgrave, 2013.

  12. Defert, Daniel. "Foucault, Space, and the Architects." In Politics/Poetics: Documenta X – The Book, 274. Ostfildern-Ruit: Cantz Verlag, 1997.

  13. Defert, Daniel. "'I Believe in Time…' Daniel Defert legatee of Michel Foucault's Manuscripts." Revue Recto/Verso no. 6 (September 2010): 1–6.

  14. Deleuze, Gilles. Foucault. Translated and edited by Seàn Hand. New York: Continuum, 2006.

  15. Dreyfus, Hubert. "Forward to the California Edition." In Michel Foucault, Mental Illness and Psychology, translated by Alan Sheridan, vii–xlii. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1987.

  16. Elden, Stuart. "A copy of Michel Foucault's Folie et déraison: Histoire de la folie à l'âge classique," (August 29, 2015). Accessed November 1, 2019.–copy–of–michel–foucaults–folie–et–deraison–histoire–de–la–folie–a–lage–classique/.

  17. Elden, Stuart. Foucault's Last Decade. Malden: Polity Press, 2016.

  18. Elden, Stuart. Foucault: The Birth of Power. Cambridge: Polity Press, 2017.

  19. Fisher, Jacob S. "What is an Oeuvre? Foucault and Literature." Configurations 7, no. 2. (Spring 1999): 279–290. DOI:

  20. Forester, John. "Foucault's Face: The Personal is Theoretical." Foucault Now, edited by James Fauibion, 112–128. Cambridge: Polity Press, 2014.

  21. Foss, Sonja K., Karen A. Foss, and Robert Trapp. Contemporary Perspectives on Rhetoric: 30th Anniversary Edition. Long Grove: Waveland Press, 2014.

  22. Foucault, Michel. Abnormal: Lectures at the College de France 1974–1975. New York: Picador, 2003.

  23. Foucault, Michel. "About the Beginning of the Hermeneutics of the Self: Two Lectures at Dartmouth." Political Theory 21, no. 2 (May 1993): 198–227. DOI:

  24. Foucault, Michel. "Andere Räume." Stadterneuerung. Idee, Prozess, Ergebnis: die Reparatur und Rekonstruktion der Stadt [Ausstellungskatalog]. Berlin: Fröhlich & Kaufmann, 1984.

  25. Foucault, Michel. "Des espaces autres." In Dits et écrits II, 1976–1988, edited by Daniel Defert and François Ewald, 1571–81. Paris: Gallimard. 2001 [1967].

  26. Foucault, Michel. "Des espaces autres." l'Architettura 13 (1968 [1967]): 822–23.

  27. Foucault, Michel. "Des espaces autres. Une conférence inédite de Michel Foucault." Architecture, Mouvement, Continuité 5 (1984 [1967]): 46–49.

  28. Foucault, Michel. "Different Spaces." In Aesthetics, Method, and Epistemology: Essential Works of Foucault Volume 2, translated by R. Hurley and edited by J. D. Faubion, 175–185 (London: Penguin, 1998) [1967]).

  29. Foucault, Michel. "Foucault at the College de France I: A Course Summary." Translated by James Bernauer. Philosophy and Social Criticism 8, no. 2 (Summer 1981): 235–242. DOI:

  30. Foucault, Michel. Foucault Live: Collected Interviews, 1961–1984. Brooklyn: Semiotext(e), 1996.

  31. Foucault, Michel. Histoire de la sexualité 4: Les aveux de la chair, edited by Frédéric Gros. Paris: Gallimard, 2018.

  32. Foucault, Michel. "Interview with Michel Foucault." In Power, vol. 3 of Essential Works of Foucault, 1954–1984, translated by Robert Hurley and edited by James D. Faubion, 239–97. New York: New Press, 1994.

  33. Foucault, Michel, and Gilles Deleuze. "Introduction générale." In Œuvres complètes de F. Nietzsche, vol. V: Le Gai Savoir. Fragments posthumes (1881–1882), I–IV. Paris: Gallimard, 1967.

  34. Foucault, Michel. L'Archéologie du Savoir. Paris: Gallimard, 1969.

  35. Foucault, Michel. Lectures on the Will to Know. New York: Palgrave, 2013. DOI:

  36. Foucault, Michel. L'Herméneutique du sujet: Cours au Collège de France (1981–2), edited by Frédéric Gros, Paris: Gallimard/Seuil, 2001.

  37. Foucault, Michel. Mental Illness and Psychology, translated by Alan Sheridan. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1987.

  38. Foucault, Michel. "Of Other Spaces." Translated by J. Miskowiec, Diacritics 16 (1986 [1967]): 22–27. DOI:

  39. Foucault, Michel. "Of Other Spaces." In Rethinking Architecture: A Reader in Cultural Theory, edited by Neal Leach, 330–336. London: Routledge, 1997 [1967].

  40. Foucault, Michel. (anonymous). "Paris 13e: Nous portons plainte contre la police." La cause du peuple J'accuse (supplement, June 3, 1971): 16–17.

  41. Foucault, Michel. Raymond Roussel. Gallimard: Paris, 1963. [Librairie Le Feu Follet. 31, rue Henri Barbusse, 75005 Paris, France. Volume reference number: 50271].

  42. Foucault, Michel. Religion and Culture, edited by Jeremy R. Carrette. New York: Manchester University Press, 1999.

  43. Foucault, Michel. "The Author Function." Excerpt from "What is an Author?" In Language, Counter-Memory, Practice, translated by D. F. Bouchard and S. Simon. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1977.

  44. Foucault, Michel. The Archaeology of Knowledge, translated by A. M. Sheridan Smith. New York: Vintage Books, 2010.

  45. Foucault, Michel. The Hermeneutics of the Subject: Lectures at the Collège de France, translated by Graham Burchell. London: Palgrave, 2005. DOI:

  46. Foucault, Michel. "Qu'est–ce qu'un auteur?" Bulletin de la Sociéte française de philosophie 63, no. 3 (1969): 73–104.

  47. Foucault, Michel. "Sur Nietzsche. Entretien avec Jacqueline Piatier." In Cahier de L'Herne 95 (2011): 108–111.

  48. Foucault, Michel. Utopies et hétérotopies, CD: INA, Mémoire Vive, 2004 [1966].

  49. Foucault, Michel. "War in the Filigree of Peace." Translated by Ian McLeod, Oxford Literary Review 4, no. 2 (1980): 15–19. DOI:

  50. Gain, Mike. "The Form of Foucault." Economy and Society 15, no. 1 (February 1986): 110–122. DOI:

  51. Garber, Daniel. Descartes Embodied: Reading Cartesian Philosophy Through Cartesian Science. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001. DOI:

  52. Golder, Ben. "Foucault and the Genealogy of Pastoral Power" Radical Philosophy Review 10, no. 2 (2007): 157–76. DOI:

  53. Hall, Bryan. The Post-Critical Kant: Understanding the Critical Philosophy through the Opus Postumum. New York: Routledge, 2015. DOI:

  54. Halperin, David M. "Michel Foucault, Jean Le Bitoux, and the Gay Science Lost and Found: An Introduction." Critical Inquiry 37, no. 3 (Spring 2011): 371–380. DOI:

  55. Harcourt, Bernard E. "The Illusion of Influence: On Foucault, Nietzsche and a Fundamental Misunderstanding." Columbia Public Law Research Paper no. 14–627 (2019): 1–21.

  56. Harpham, Geoffrey Galt. Shadows of Ethics: Criticism and the Just Society. London: Duke University Press, 1999.

  57. Huffer, Lynne. "Foucault's Evil Genius." In Foucault Now, edited by James Fauibion, 52–70. Cambridge: Polity Press, 2014.

  58. Huffer, Lynne. Mad for Foucault: Rethinking the Foundations of Queer Theory. New York: Columbia University Press, 2010.

  59. Kelly, Mark G. E. Foucault and Politics. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2014.

  60. Koelb, Clayton. "Editions." In Franz Kafka in Context, edited by Carolin Duttlinger, 283–292. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018.

  61. Krell, David Farrell. Phantoms of the Other: Four Generations of Derrida's Geschlecht. New York: State University of New York Press, 2015.

  62. Luxton, Nancy. "Truthfulness, Risk, and Trust in the Late Lectures of Michel Foucault." Inquiry 47, no. 5 (2004): 464–489. DOI:

  63. Macey, David. Michel Foucault. London: Reaktion Books. 2004.

  64. Macey, David. The Lives of Michel Foucault: A Biography. New York: Verso, 2019.

  65. Massot, Marie-Laure, Arianna Sforzini, and Vincent Ventresque. "Transcribing Foucault's handwriting with Transkribus." Journal of Data Mining and Digital Humanities (2019).

  66. Miller, J. Hillis. For Derrida. New York: Fordham University Press, 2009.

  67. Miller, James. The Passion of Michel Foucault. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1993.

  68. Mottier, Véronique. "Foucault Revisited: Recent Assessments of the Legacy." Acta Sociologica 44, no. 4 (2001): 329–336. DOI:

  69. Ninnis, Drew. "Foucault and the Madness of Classifying Our Madness." Foucault Studies no. 21 (June 2016): 117–137. DOI:

  70. Nora, Pierre. "Il avait un besoin formidable d'être aimé." L'Evénement de jeudi (18–24 September 1986): 82–83.

  71. O'Farrell, Clare. Michel Foucault. London: Sage Publications, 2005.

  72. Parkhurst, William A. B. "Does Nietzsche have a 'Nachlass'?." Nietzsche-Studien [forthcoming].

  73. Pasquino, Pasquale. "Michel Foucault (1926–84): The Will to Knowledge." In Foucault's New Domains, translated by Chloe Chard and edited by Mike Gane and Terry Johnson, 36–48. New York: Routledge, 1993.

  74. Raffnsøe, Sverre, Morten S. Thaning, Marius Gudmand-Hoyer. Michel Foucault: A Research Companion. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016. DOI:

  75. Robbins, Derek. French Post-War Social Theory: International Knowledge Transfer. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, 2012. DOI:

  76. Simons, Jonathan. Foucault and the Political. New York: Routledge. 1995.

  77. Stone, Brad Elliott. "Defending Society from the Abnormal. The Archaeology of Bio-Power." Foucault Studies no. 1 (December 2004): 77–91. DOI:

  78. Szakolczai, Arpad. Max Weber and Michel Foucault: Parallel Life-Works. New York: Routledge, 1998.

  79. Voeltzel, Thierry. Vingt ans et après. Paris: Grasset, 1978.

  80. Walzer, Micheal. "The Politics of Michel Foucault." In Foucault: A Critical Reader, edited by David C. Hoy, 51–68. Cambridge: Blackwell Publishers, 1996.

comments powered by Disqus