MICHEL FOUCAULT QUESTIONS FOR ENGLISH 492 THEORY, CSU FULLERTON
Assigned: Michel Foucault. "What Is an Author?" (1475-90); optional: Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison (1490-1502 in Leitch, Vincent B. and William E. Cain, eds. The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. 2nd ed. New York: Norton, 2010. ISBN 978-0-393-93292-8.)
"What Is an Author?"
1. From 1475-79, how does Foucault characterize the latest way of talking about the relationship between an author and a text? How does this new way reject older theories about that relationship? Foucault further identifies two new "theses" that replace the author: the "work" and ecriture. What general and specific problems does he have with these two theses?
2. On 1479, Foucault writes that "we should reexamine the empty space left by the author's disappearance." From 1479-85, how does he make such a reexamination? In what ways does an author's name function, and what four key points does Foucault make and refine about the development and significance of this author-function?
3. From 1485-87, how does Foucault broaden his earlier consideration of mostly literary and religious texts to encompass discourses such as Marxism and psychoanalysis? What new kind of author-function emerges from the nineteenth century onward, and how does Foucault begin to analyze the importance of this new kind of author-function?
4. From 1487-90, why, according to Foucault, is it inevitable that those involved in what he has called "transdiscursive discourses" should return to them? How is this return more complex than, say, a simple rediscovery of some old point made by an earlier author: what characterizes a return to a transdiscursive author or set of texts?
5. From 1489-90, what final reflections does Foucault offer with regard to subjectivity as a long-privileged philosophical concept? And how does he drive home the point that his careful examination is not intended as a defense of the older concept of authorship that has been demolished in modern times?