Unpacking Foucault

The Columbia Center for Contemporary Critical Thought, Directed by Professor Bernard E. Harcourt, Set to Host a Major Series of Seminars Reassessing the Famed French Philosopher
New York, August 6, 2015—More than 30 years after his death, French philosopher Michel Foucault continues to influence contemporary thinkers with his critical explorations of criminal justice, power, sexuality, surveillance, and numerous other issues.
Now his work will be the subject of a yearlong series hosted by the Columbia Center for Contemporary Critical Thought and The Society of Fellows in the Humanities at Columbia University. The series—Foucault 13/13—will cover Foucault’s 13 landmark lectures at the Collège de France and will convene distinguished scholars from across a diverse range of disciplines, including anthropology, philosophy, art criticism, political theory, and history.

Columbia Law School Professor Bernard E. Harcourt, director of the Center for Contemporary Critical Thought, will moderate the series along with Professor Jesús R. Velasco, chair of Columbia University’s Department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures. Harcourt is a noted Foucault scholar who has edited the philosopher’s work in French and in English. He recently oversaw the publication of the last of the Collège de France lectures to be collected, Théories et institutions pénales. 1971-1972 (published in May 2015).

“With the publication now of the entire series of Foucault’s lectures at the Collège de France, it is time to read them chronologically to grasp the overall project of those lectures, to analyze the development of the critical ideas, and to continue to excavate our own research avenues, building on Foucault’s,” Harcourt said.

French philosopher Michel Foucault, left, is the subject of a new seminar series,
Foucault 13/13, created and moderated by Professor Bernard E. Harcourt, right,
director of the Columbia Center for Contemporary Critical Thought.

The seminar series will be structured as conversations among Columbia law faculty, including professors Katherine Franke, Jeremy Kessler, and Kendall Thomas, Columbia faculty from the Arts and Sciences, including Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Etienne Balibar, Partha Chatterjee, Axel Honneth, and Alondra Nelson, and guests including Seyla Benhabib, Judith Butler, Homi Bhabha, Achille Mbembe, Paul Rabinow, Pierre Rosanvallon, and other leading theorists from around the world.
The Foucault 13/13 series is also sponsored by the Maison Française, the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society, and the Department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures.
"The Center for Contemporary Critical Thought has curated an extraordinary series for this coming year--a true intellectual "happening"--and I very much look forward to participating," said Nelson, professor of sociology and gender studies and Dean of Social Science at Columbia University. "I certainly hope to be on hand for the entire seminar series if I can manage to get a seat!"
The series will be open to Columbia faculty, fellows and students in addition to faculty and students from other New York universities. The seminars will also be webcast for the public. View the complete schedule of seminars.