I think the TLS debate is reaching its sell-by date. Very little is being added, and positions are becoming entrenched. The slight opening afforded by the review to consider what using historical sources means today seems to be closing.
We can note Alex at “Je est un autre” has an interesting contribution though. He argues that Foucault’s book, for all that Scull criticises it, provides a context for Scull’s own work, as well as other “contra-Foucault” workers.
Working on madness, Scull seems unable to escape a Foucaultian paradigm as much as he would wish.
Touche or… not?
Alex does point out an article from 1987 which analyzed Foucault’s reception among the historians (Allan Magill, Journal of the History of Ideas). Magill rightly notes that Foucault never saw himself as a historian (“nobody is perfect”).
Magill uses some citation analysis for part of his argument: [sorry wordpress won’t allow upload of the pic right now. See Magill’s article.].
While this is only part of the argument it might be intgeresting to do something similar today with the more powerful tools we have. Citation analysis has been done from time to time in geography by eg., R.J. Johnston.
Testy exchanges between Craig at theoria (x-posted at Long Sunday) and Scott Eric Kaufman. Craig claims Madness and Civilization is an outlier work, prompting this response:
Are you really this slow-witted? If you want to criticize what I wrote, criticize what I wrote. Were you as superior to unserious, derivative hacks as you proudly declare, you would’ve responded to their argument with something more substantial than the howl of the outraged acolyte. (“They don’t understand my love for you, Michel, and they never will!”)
Wow. Maybe we should back out s-l-ow-l-y and leave them to it…
Update I. In an earlier post I had listed both the Scull review and the one by Colin Gordon. Now they come together. Gordon has a letter defending Foucault in the TLS.
Scull tries to present Foucault as saying, implausibly, that English psychiatric asylums were established in former monasteries. A reader who tracks down this citation (page 56 in the translation) will find that Foucault is in fact referring to foundations of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century houses of correction in England and Germany. Foucault nowhere asserts, as Scull implies, that all or most insane people in early modern Europe were incarcerated in such institutions. The primary targets of the seventeenth-century “Great Internment” which Foucault’s book famously describes were, as it makes clear, the idle poor.
No doubt we can expect to hear from Scull as there are some serious accusations here. Gordon says Scull is engaged in a project of “blackening Foucault’s name.” A second letter from Bill Luckin at Manchester is also printed.
Update II. The best comment thread about all this is currently over at the Valve. It seems to be a good space for some critical thought.
Update III. It might be nice for someone to compile a list of all the things people say are factually incorrect about the book and see if they’re true (insert cheap-shot here, we should live that long, etc.). Seriously. I’d always heard that Foucault claims the Narrenshiff was real when “eny fule kno” it was literary, but here’s F (on p. 8) saying it was clearly literary. Gordon cites some specifics as well.
Or is this finally not so much about small individual facts?
…adding, I know he says they are real as well, or at least itinerant (the famous sentence of an itinerant existence as the lot of the mad).