Saint Foucault: Towards a Gay Hagiography

By David M. Halperin | Go to book overview

Notes

Saint Foucault
1.
Richard D. Mohr, Gay Ideas: Outing and Other Controversies ( Boston: Beacon Press, 1992), 221-22.
2.
Mohr, Gay Ideas, 287 n. 2. Mohr's characterization of my book was inspired--as his quotations from it in that note indicate--by a remark I made in the introduction while reviewing the existing scholarly literature on the subject of sex in ancient Greece. Foucault, I said, took up the theoretical dimension of the history of sexuality as it pertained to ancient Greece "with characteristic brilliance and matchless penetration" ( One Hundred Years of Homosexuality and Other Essays on Greek Love [ New York: Routledge, 1990], 5-6). Not only do I stand by that remark, I consider the judgment contained in it to be both an obvious one and no very great compliment to Foucault: anyone who surveys the pre- 1988 classical scholarship on sex from a theoretical perspective will, I believe, all too readily assent to it. Mohr goes on to criticize in some detail a number of the views advanced in my book, but his criticisms lie outside the scope of the present discussion. I hope to address them in a future essay on the reception of my book.

For another example of an attempt to forge a mutually incriminating linkage among Foucault's work, my book, social construction theory, and the current practice of lesbian and gay studies, see Bruce Bawer, A Place at the Table: The Gay Individual in American Society ( New York: Poseidon Press, 1993), 211-12.

3.
In addition to the three points discussed below, let me mention two other respects in which Mohr's characterization of social construction is mistaken. First, the social construction of sexuality applies to heterosexuality every bit as much as it applies to homosexuality; social constructionists do not presume that only homosexuality is constituted culturally or that heterosexuality, by contrast, is constituted naturally. To insinuate that social construction naturalizes heterosexuality but reduces lesbian and gay existence to an accident or artifact of culture is therefore to misrepresent social construction. Second, social con-

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Saint Foucault: Towards a Gay Hagiography
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Contents ix
  • Saint Foucault 3
  • The Queer Politics of Michel Foucault 15
  • The Describable Life of Michel Foucault 126
  • Notes 187
  • Index 239
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