Foucault discusses his use of sources in a number of places, and his comments are worth bearing in mind in this whole discussion of historical accuracy and sources:
1. He says somewhere that with regard to major thinkers such as Heidegger and Marx, he did not feel it necessary to cite them on every page, as their influence was evident.
2. He also has discussed on several occasions his choice of sources which tend to be the people or books that are not necessarily seen as the “mainstream” thinking of those times. This is a different matter than historical accuracy, it is a deliberate philosophical strategy (whether or not we agree with it, it was his choice). This was I think of a piece with his interests in “subjugated knowledges” (discussed in Society Must be Defended).
3. The lecture courses may help us reassess just how deeply Foucault grounded his work in sources, but it seems their influence has not yet risen to the level where they counter-act the common idea of historical inaccuracies.
4. Actual accusations of historical inaccuracy: these might fall into two categories (A) explicit historical factual claims that are inaccurate; (B) matters of interpretation such as the comment below by Ben about over “aestheticization.”
The question is how we react to these issues; it is not enough to just say “historical inaccuracy” as this may or may not be the case. It is obviously a cry all too avidly taken up by those who politically oppose Foucault’s projects.
Foucault wrote frequently about history and historiography, we should first be attentive to those writings before rushing to judgment. For a long list, see the entry on that topic (p. 139) in Clare O’Farrell’s remarkable book on Foucault (the single best introduction to Foucault’s work I have read).
She recommends, among others:
“On the genealogy of ethics: an overview of work in progress” H. Dreyfus and P.
Rabinow, Michel Foucault: beyond structuralism and hermeneutics, 2nd ed. (Chicago,
University of Chicago Press, 1983), pp. 229-252. English original.
DE: 1, 48, 50, 58, 59, 66, 68, 84, 139, 132, 156, 22, 277, 278
HF Part I, chaps IV, V
OT foreword, Chap 5
AK Part I
FS chap 2, conclusion