Mad for Foucault: Rethinking the Foundations of Queer Theory

Columbia University Press
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Michel Foucault was the first to embed the roots of human sexuality in discipline and biopolitics, therefore revolutionizing our conception of sex and its relationship to society, economics, and culture. Yet over the past two decades, scholars have limited themselves to the study of Foucault's History of Sexuality, volume 1 paying lesser attention to his equally explosive History of Madness. In this earlier volume, Foucault recasts Western rationalism as a project that both produces and represses sexual deviants, calling out the complicity of modern science and the exclusionary nature of family morality. By reclaiming these deft moves, Lynne Huffer teases out exciting new strands of Foucauldian thought. She then revisits the theorist's ethical work in light of these discoveries, divining an ethics of eros that sees sexuality as a lived experience we are repeatedly called on to remember. Throughout her study, Huffer weaves her own experiences together with Foucault's, sampling from unpublished interviews and other archived materials in order to intimately rework the problem of sexuality as a product of reason.
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About the author

Lynne Huffer is Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Emory University and author of Are the Lips a Grave? A Queer Feminist on the Ethics of Sex; Maternal Pasts, Feminist Futures: Nostalgia, Ethics, and the Question of Difference; and Another Colette: The Question of Gendered Writing.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Columbia University Press
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Published on
Nov 5, 2009
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Pages
304
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ISBN
9780231520515
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Language
English
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Genres
Literary Criticism / LGBT
Philosophy / Movements / Deconstruction
Social Science / LGBT Studies / Gay Studies
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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The Animal That Therefore I Am is the long-awaited translation of the complete text of Jacques Derrida’s ten-hour address to the 1997 Cérisy conference entitled “The Autobiographical Animal,” the third of four such colloquia on his work. The book was assembled posthumously on the basis of two published sections, one written and recorded session, and one informal recorded session.

The book is at once an affectionate look back over the multiple roles played by animals in Derrida’s work and a profound philosophical investigation and critique of the relegation of animal life that takes place as a result of the distinction—dating from Descartes—between man as thinking animal and every other living species. That starts with the very fact of the line of separation drawn between the human and the millions of other species that are reduced to a single “the animal.” Derrida finds that distinction, or versions of it, surfacing in thinkers as far apart as Descartes, Kant, Heidegger, Lacan, and Levinas, and he dedicates extended analyses to
the question in the work of each of them.

The book’s autobiographical theme intersects with its philosophical analysis through the figures of looking and nakedness, staged in terms of Derrida’s experience when his cat follows him into the bathroom in the morning. In a classic deconstructive reversal, Derrida asks what this animal sees and thinks when it sees this naked man. Yet the experiences of nakedness and shame also lead all the way back into the mythologies of “man’s dominion over the beasts” and trace a history of how man has systematically displaced onto the animal his own failings or bêtises.

The Animal That Therefore I Am is at times a militant plea and indictment regarding, especially, the modern industrialized treatment of animals. However, Derrida cannot subscribe to a simplistic version of animal rights that fails to follow through, in all its implications, the questions and definitions of “life” to which he returned in much of his later work.
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