Eileen Joy and Anna Klosowska: Asceticism, Eroticism, and the Premodern Foucault

Eileen Joy, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
Eileen Joy, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
Anna Klosowska, Miami University
Anna Klosowska, Miami University
Revisiting Foucault’s History of Sexuality through Medieval and Early Modern Sources
Center for Renaissance Studies Programs
Graduate Seminar
Friday, January 11, 2013 to Friday, March 15, 2013

2- 5 pm

Room B-91

Led by Eileen Joy, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, and Anna Klosowska, Miami University (Ohio)

This seminar will focus on rereading Foucault’s History of Sexuality (both the three published volumes as well as additional published materials intended for a fourth volume) in relation to hagiographic narratives from the Late Antique, Old English, and Middle English traditions and to medieval and early modern literary texts on love in French (in translation). The central guiding concept is Foucault’s notion of an “improbable manner of being”—a notion that Foucault sketched, somewhat elliptically, in his late lectures and interviews in relation to his thinking on asceticism and techniques of the “care of the self” that he had explored in classical and early Christian texts, but had no time to more fully develop.

Printable PDF flyer

Participants will explore medieval and early modern texts to imagine what the inclusion of particular representations in these texts of “improbable” modes and techniques of the self would have contributed to Foucault’s history of sexuality, with an eye toward the consequences Foucault’s readings of these texts might have had upon his study of sexuality in the premodern period. The seminar will also interrogate some of the paradoxes inherent in Foucault’s attempts to provide a linear periodization of the development of the history of sexuality from the classical period to the present time—a periodization, moreover, which much work in current medieval and early modern studies of sexuality have called into question. The time is extremely ripe for such a reexamination of the premodern premises of Foucault’s work on sexuality and the care of
the self.

Each of the ten meetings will pair excerpts from Foucault’s works with readings in relevant medieval or early modern texts, as well as in contemporary critical sexuality studies. The seminar dovetails nicely with the recent publication, for the first time in English, of the final volume of Foucault’s last lectures at the Collège de France on the birth of biopolitics, which is a direct outcome of his multivolume history of sexuality project.

Learn more about the instructors: Eileen Joy, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, and Anna Klosowska, Miami University (Ohio)

Guest Lecturers

Lauren Berlant, University of Chicago
James Bromley, Miami University
Laurie Finke, Kenyon College
C. Stephen Jaeger, Emeritus, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
William Junker, University of Saint Thomas
Peggy McCracken, University of Michigan
Eric Ruckh, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
Carl Springer, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
Judith P. Zinsser, Emerita, Miami University

Participants: Joseph Derosier, Northwestern University; Robin Henley, Western Michigan University; Lee Huttner, Northwestern University; Andrew Keener, Northwestern University; Christine Libby, Indiana University; Suzanne Blum Malley, Northern Illinois University; Abigail Marcus, University of Chicago; Alyssa Nayyar, Western Michigan University; Austin O’Malley, University of Chicago; Jennifer Sichel, University of Chicago; and Diana Siwicka, Northwestern University
Nancy Thebaut, University of Chicago
Leah Wallace, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
Simone Waller, Northwestern University
Sarah Wilson, Northwestern University

Faculty and graduate students of Center for Renaissance Studies consortium institutions may be eligible to apply for travel funds to attend CRS programs or to do research at the Newberry. Each member university sets its own policies and deadlines; contact your Representative Council member in advance for details.

Learn more about Center for Renaissance Studies programs for graduate students.