Lynne HufferAug 23, 2021
Foucault's Strange Eros
Columbia University Press 2020
Lynne Huffer, the Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Womens and Gender Studies at Emory University to speaks widely about the body of her work, including her new book, Foucault’s Strange Eros, out in 2020 with Columbia University Press.
What is the strange eros that haunts Foucault’s writing? In this deeply original consideration of Foucault’s erotic ethics, Lynne Huffer provocatively rewrites Foucault as a Sapphic poet. She uncovers eros as a mode of thought that erodes the interiority of the thinking subject. Focusing on the ethical implications of this mode of thought, Huffer shows how Foucault’s poetic archival method offers a way to counter the disciplining of speech.
At the heart of this method is a conception of the archive as Sapphic: the past’s remains are, like Sappho’s verses, hole-ridden, scattered, and dissolved by time. Listening for eros across fragmented texts, Huffer stages a series of encounters within an archive of literary and theoretical readings: the eroticization of violence in works by Freud and Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, the historicity of madness in the Foucault-Derrida debate, the afterlives of Foucault’s antiprison activism, and Monique Wittig’s Sapphic materialism. Through these encounters, Foucault’s Strange Eros conceives of ethics as experiments in living that work poetically to make the present strange. Crafting fragments that dissolve into Sapphic brackets, Huffer performs the ethics she describes in her own practice of experimental writing. Foucault’s Strange Eros hints at the self-hollowing speech of an eros that opens a space for the strange.
Jana Byars is the Academic Director of Netherlands: International Perspectives on Sexuality and Gender.