From: Kevin Turner <kevin.turner@xxxxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 18 Jul 2008 04:48:23 -0800
that interesting, because I read this the other way round.
to do "a history of sexuality as an experience" is to historicise sexuality but to leave experience as an a-historical, subjective act of consciousness: i.e. to look at the different subjective experiences of sexuality across time.
whereas to do "a history of the experience of sexuality" is to historicise both experience and sexuality, which seems to fit Foucault's stated aim of analysing "sexuality as a historically singular form of experience" (EW 1: 199): i.e. to do a history of forms of experiences of sexuality, which suggests that both sexuality, and the forms of experience are historically constituted. Here, experience does not refer to an act of consciousness of a transcendental subject, but to different historical forms of experince that constitutes subject, in this case, subjects of a sexuality.
That's why I like to know how the original French should be translated.
Sent: Fri, 18 Jul 2008 08:30:59 -0400
Subject: Re: [Foucault-L] translation question
I don't have the French, so I'm going a bit out on a limb here... but it
seems pretty clear to me that Han's modified translation better
characterizes Foucualt's project (whether or not it more literally
translates the French). For to say "a history of the experience of
sexuality," on the other hand, seems to imply that there is some numerically
identical experience that persists through time, and thus has a history.
Whereas "a history of sexuality as an experience" seems to refer to
something more explicit: sexuality (as it has come to be) defined in terms
of experience. Sexuality, after all, was not always conceived of primarily
as an experience.
On the historical relativity of concepts, I think Quentin Skinner's
discussion in "Meaning and Understanding in the History of Ideas" is
apposite. This essay first appeared in History and Theory, 8 (1969), pp.
3-53, and was re-printed in James Tully, ed., _Meaning and Context: Quentin
Skinner and His Critics_. Tully provides a very interesting introductory
essay in which he compares and contrasts Foucault's and Skinner's
approaches. The comparison is not exact; Skinner, I think, tends to be a
bit more focused on rhetoric and argument, whereas Foucault treats concepts
themselves as part and parcel of particular technologies of power. But the
comparison Tully draws is nevertheless instructive, and I'd highly recommend
the Skinner collected in this volume to fellow students of Foucault.
On Fri, Jul 18, 2008 at 6:38 AM, Kevin Turner <kevin.turner@xxxxxxxxx>
> I have a query concerning a translation in "The Use of Pleasure."
> In the English translation, Foucault states that what he planned was 'a
> history of the experience of sexuality' (UP: 4).
> In Beatrice Han's discussion of this text in "Foucault's Critical Project,"
> she modifies the translation so that it states that what Foucault planned
> was 'a history of sexuality as an experience' (Han, 2002: 153).
> This may seem like a subtle difference but I think a lot hangs on whether
> Foucault is understood to be doing "a history of the experience of
> sexuality" or "a history of sexuality as an experience."
> Thoughts on which is the better translation, or whether both translations
> are legitimate, or which translation best captures what Foucault did, etc.
> would be most welcome.
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