Review by Choice Review
Published as part of the "Cambridge Introductions to Literature" series, this book by Downing (French, Univ. of Exeter, UK) achieves its aim of being an accessible introductory work for students of literature. Following an introductory chapter that places Foucault in his intellectual and historical context, the volume is organized around exegetical readings of Foucault's major published works. In addition to chapters on the works addressing madness and medicine, the death of man, the prison, and sexuality, Downing includes an interesting chapter on Foucault as a reader of literature. The volume closes with a survey of Foucault's influence on feminist and queer theory. Although this book is strong on Foucault's place as a cultural theorist whose work should be familiar to students of literature, it will be less valuable for students and faculty who read Foucault as a philosophical or political thinker. And readers who have followed recent Foucault scholarship will be frustrated by the lack of attention to his lectures at the College de France or lack of acknowledgment of more recent scholarship (only 9 of the 41 works suggested for further reading were written in the past decade). Summing Up: Recommended. Lower-level undergraduates through graduate students. A. D. Schrift Grinnell College
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.