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Mad for Foucault: Rethinking the Foundations of Queer Theory (Gender and Culture Series)

4.3 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0231149181
ISBN-10: 0231149182
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Editorial Reviews

Review

[A] provocative and thoughtful book.

(Christopher Roman Foucault Studies)

Review

From the picture on its cover to the pages of her book, Lynne Huffer's study offers us a Foucault many will scarcely recognize. Arguing that virtually from the start of his career Foucault lays new grounds for queer theory, Huffer combines scrupulous scholarship, attentive close reading, and passionate argument with personal meditations to suggest why the early Foucault matters now.

(Jonathan Goldberg, author of The Seeds of Things: Theorizing Sexuality and Materiality in Renaissance Representations)

What if, Huffer asks, the center of gravity of one of the most powerful strands of queer theory were relocated from Foucault's History of Sexuality, volume 1, to his earlier, massive History of Madness? With great generosity of mind and spirit, Huffer, a leading theorist at some of the most productive intersections between queer and feminist theory, performs this needful Archimedean task.

(Michael Moon, author of A Small Boy and Others and Darger's Resources)

This book really highlights and clarifies what is at stake in the History of Madness and how those stakes articulate with Foucault's philosophical agenda from the 1960s forward. As a Foucault scholar, I am very grateful for that work. I love a provocative book, and this one kept me thinking well beyond its own text.

(Ladelle McWhorter, University of Richmond)

Mad for Foucault is one of the most exciting books I have read in a while. It represents an original, provocative, and ambitious effort to rethink the foundations of queer theory. Every chapter is replete with fascinating points and provocative assertions.

(Jana Sawicki, Williams College)

Lynne Huffer startles our complacent ownership of Foucault. Own him? We've hardly read him. Huffer has—lyrically, ironically, with unblinking passion. She shares the results: a political ethics (hardly a morality!) for erotic bodies subject to madness-or subjects after it. A dazzling dance of a book.

(Mark D. Jordan, Harvard Divinity School)

In exploring the gold mine that is History of Madness, Lynne Huffer does more than simply reveal the full importance of this first of Foucault's major works. She demonstrates that from the beginning to the end, Foucault's project was driven by a desire to offer a radical, intransigent critique of psychoanalysis and of any psychoanalytic theory of the subject. Mad for Foucault is sure to become a classic.

(Didier Eribon, author of Michel Foucault and Insult and the Making of the Gay Self)
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Product Details

  • Series: Gender and Culture Series
  • Hardcover: 376 pages
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press (November 5, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0231149182
  • ISBN-13: 978-0231149181
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,229,251 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Lynne Huffer (1960- ) is Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Emory University, and has also taught at Yale and Rice Universities. She is the author of Maternal Pasts, Feminist Futures (Stanford UP, 1998), Another Colette (University of Michigan Press, 1992), Mad for Foucault (Columbia University Press, 2010), and Are the Lips a Grave (Columbia University Press, 2013). She has also published creative non-fiction pieces in literary journals such as The Rambler, Sou'wester, Passager, Talking River, and Rio Grande Review. She is currently completing a memoir entitled Sleeping Sickness and Other Queer Histories.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book is very important, and should be of great interest to anyone who uses the writings of Foucault. The author does a great job problematizing existing utilizations of Foucault's writings (especially those of Judith Butler) and highlights the problems in those who have read Foucault psychoanalytically. She also lays out an important exposition of the ethics embedded in Foucault's oeuvre.

I really wanted to give this book four or five stars because I do consider it really important, and I largely agree with many of the critiques made by the author. This is a book that needs to be read by the many people who mis-use Foucault, especially in queer theory. However, I also found the writing style to be highly problematic. Many times, the author takes several paragraphs to say something that could be said much more quickly, and discussions of the material tend to be rambling and loop around several times. As such, it is often hard to follow the argument - or sometimes even see the point the author is making in large sections of the book. Even though I have only given the book three stars, I would highly encourage others to read this - though they should know that it might be a less than pleasant experience.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is not yet another book about Queer theory: it is THE book about queer theory, the one that would define the future of gender and queer studies.

In this deeply researched monograph, Huffer, in her moving lyrical prose, teaches us the value of revisiting all the major markers of queer studies with an eye on Foucault's most important work: History of Madness.

Huffer's main argument, and I am simplifying here, is that early queer theory relied heavily on Foucault's History of Sexuality Vol.1, but an altogether different Foucault can be retrieved and mobilized for queer studies if the scholars and students read Foucault's views on gender and sexuality in juxtaposition with his huge early work, History of Madness.

This is also a book about eros, about love: You cannot just read this book, You have to experience it!
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For students of Foucault and Queer Theory, this book is really challenging and thought provoking. If you are familiar with Judith Butler, Eve Kosofksy Sedgwick, and Foucault's History of Sexuality Volume 1, you should definitely check this out for inspiration and new ideas. It might shift your thinking completely, or you might disagree completely, but there's no substitute for a completely new perspective on well-worn intellectual terrain.
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