Foucault, Michel (1926–1984)

At the time of his death in 1984, Michel Foucault held the chair in History of Systems of Thought at the Collège de France, the country's most prestigious academic institution. This title seems an apt description of the breadth of Foucault's interests and influences. Written in the wake of Continental structuralism, his texts seek to refashion “the human” and, therefore, the human sciences, particularly discourses of psychology, medicine, epistemology, politics, and sexuality. Though he wrote very little that treats religion explicitly, his impact on its study has been and continues to be profound, especially in the contemporary attention it devotes to bodies, genders, practices, and power.

Foucault was born in 1926 and raised in Poitiers, the son of an eminent local surgeon. There he attended the ...

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