2007-08 has been a year of growth and development for The Foucault Society. Not only has our reading group met almost continuously from May 2007-July 2008, but we have undergone some productive organizational development. Some of the highlights include:
The Foucault Society Reading Group
Reading Group (Summer 2007): Michel Foucault’s The Order of Things
Session 1: May 21 –June 25, 2007
Session 2: July 16 –August 13, 2007
The Foucault Society sponsored a reading group to conduct a close reading of Michel Foucault’s The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences (NY: Vintage Books, 1994), the work that made Foucault a major and controversial presence on the world intellectual stage. Session 1, which focused on Part One of the book, was led by Nicholas Birns, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Humanities at New School University, specializing in nineteenth- and twentieth-century literature and literary theory. Extended by popular demand, the reading group’s second session focused on Part Two of the book; group leaders included Nicholas Birns, Trent Hamann, Ph.D. (Assistant Professor of Philosophy, St. John’s University), and Tavia Nyong’o, Ph.D. (Assistant Professor of Performance Studies, New York University). The group met at Hunter College, 68th Street and Lexington, on Monday evenings from 6:30pm to 8:00pm. Session One: No attendance fee. Session Two: $5 per session or Foucault Society membership.
Reading Group (Fall 2007-Spring 2008): The Essential Foucault
Session 1: November 12 – December 17, 2008 (Monday evenings)
Session 2: February 12 – April 29, 2008 (Tuesday evenings)
For the academic year 2007-08, our reading group offered a thorough introduction to Foucault’s thought by reading a set of 30 key essays spanning Foucault’s career. The text, The Essential Foucault: Selections from Essential Works of Foucault, 1954-1984 (eds. Paul Rabinow and Nikolas Rose, The New Press, 2003), included pieces such as “What Is an Author?”, “Truth and Power,” “Nietzsche, Genealogy, History,” and “The Birth of Social Medicine.” The group met weekly, beginning at 6:30pm, at NYU Center for Social and Cultural Analysis, 41 East 11th Street, Room 728. Discussion facilitation rotated among group members. Admission was free.
Board of Directors
We have expanded our board of directors and said goodbye to two of our founding board members, who have left to pursue other ventures. Martin Parkins has moved to Boston to pursue his Master’s Degree in Social Work, and John Alan Farmer is now working in his law firm’s Tokyo offices. In October 2007, Alan Rosenberg, Professor of Philosophy at Queens College and Managing Editor of Foucault Studies, joined our Board of Directors after serving on our advisory board. More recently, in June 2008, David Lane, a long-time participant and frequent facilitator of our reading group, also joined the board of directors. In July and August 2008, Shifra Diamond (George Washington University) and Mike Jolley (CUNY Graduate Center), who have been organizing the upcoming seminar series on Foucault’s The Birth of Biopolitics, also joined the board. Prof. Sam Binkley of Emerson College, is the most recent addition to the board in September 2008.
Communications and Publicity
We have enhanced our website (www.foucaultsociety.org) and have upgraded our communications system by developing a formal database and mailing list on the I-Contact website. This online system allows us to target specific sectors of our 300-name mailing list, which includes both Foucault Society members and others interested in Foucault-related programming. We can now track bounced e-mails and see how many of our e-mails are actually being opened by recipients. We hope this will make future mailings more efficient.
Additionally, not to be left out of the social networking trend, we created a Facebook page (http://www.new.facebook.com/group.php?gid=12929420844&ref=mf) and a Meetup.com group (http://philosophy.meetup.com/234/).
Program announcements are posted and e-mailed through all of these channels, as well as academic e-lists, such as H-Net announcements, QStudy-L, and the Poststructuralism and Radical Politics electronic discussion network.
Our Meetup.com group is thriving with 79 members and our website now offers visitors the option of donating to the society or purchasing their membership online via PayPal or credit card.
For 2008-09, we plan to apply for various grants to enhance our ability to deliver quality programming. In the meantime, we are reliant on the generosity of others. If you are able, we welcome new memberships or donations in ANY amount. Simply visit our website (www.foucaultsociety.org) and click on the “Donate” button on the bottom right side of the Homepage. Contributions to the Foucault Society are tax deductible under rule 501 (c) (3). Thank you.
Future Plans, 2008-09
We have been busy planning a new seminar series on for academic year 2008-09. The Foucault Society Seminar Series: Michel Foucault’s The Birth of Biopolitics will spotlight Foucault’s lectures at the College de France, 1978-79, which has just been published in English translation by Palgrave Macmillan (June 2008). The book is the latest in the series of lectures edited by Arnold Davidson, and offers a stimulating continuation to earlier editions, such as Security Territory Population and Society Must Be Defended.
The seminar will begin in November and meet every three weeks. We have invited 7 faculty from area universities, all of whom are doing exciting new work on Foucault, to facilitate the discussions. They include Professors Sam Binkley (Emerson College), Jeff Bussolini (College of Staten Island), Patricia Clough (CUNY Graduate Center), Trent Hamann (St. John’s University), Eduardo Mendieta (Stony Brook University), Ananya Mukherjea (College of Staten Island), and Alan Rosenberg (Queens College). As a capstone to the series, we have also invited them to participate in a public roundtable discussion in June 2008.
We are applying for a mini-grant from the New York Council for the Humanities to support this program. Additionally, Palgrave Macmillan, the book’s publisher will be publicizing the seminar in their e-newsletter and making the book available at a 50% discount to seminar participants.
Both the seminar and roundtable will be open to the public, and we are very excited about the prospect of generating a community around the study of this book. We hope you’ll join us. Stay tuned for more details.