• Summary
  • Contents
  • Subject index

Michel Foucault's work is one of the most influential sources of ideas in the humanities and social sciences today. Clare O'Farrell offers a comprehensive and accessible introduction to Foucault's enormous, diverse and challenging output. Her book provides a range of practical tools and a reference work for readers who wish to understand and apply his ideas at both introductory and advanced levels. This volume includes: a discussion of Foucault's situation in the contemporary context exploring his role as an iconic thinker, with clear explanations as to why his work is so difficult to come to grips with, and also importantly, why it is of interest to so many people; the location of Foucault's work within its own historical, social and political setting; brief summaries in chronological order of all of Foucault's major works, including the more recently published volumes of lectures; the organization of Foucault's work around five distinct but interrelated series of assumptions which underpin his world view: namely order, history, truth, power and ethics. Ideas for which he is well-known, such as archaeology, genealogy, discourse, discipline, governmentality, the subject and others are defined and discussed within the framework of these five assumptions. - a chronology of Foucault's life, work and times; a very extensive list of key concepts in Foucault's work with detailed references pointing to where the relevant material can be found in his writings; a wide-ranging list of resources and a bibliography of Foucault's work for easy consultation.

Three Foucault's Major Works
Three foucault's major works

In keeping with the introductory mission of this book, this chapter will provide a series of short summaries of Foucault's major works. The descriptions will be fairly brief and the detail of Foucault's ideas will be expanded on more fully in later chapters. Once again we are faced with a series of complex problems. If, as we have already seen, the category of the ‘author’ is far from being straightforward, the category of the author's ‘work’ also generates a number of significant difficulties.

In the first chapter of his methodological work The Archaeology of Knowledge, Foucault begins by questioning the various categories that are commonly used to organise written material, namely the author, the ‘work’ and the book. These ...

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