Forget Biopolitics: Foucault, Agamben, and Experimentum Linguae

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Peksöz Ö. F.

Modernizm ve Postmodernizm Çalışmaları Konferansı 2020, Kocaeli, Turkey, 23 - 24 July 2020, pp.72

  • Publication Type: Conference Paper / Summary Text
  • City: Kocaeli
  • Country: Turkey
  • Page Numbers: pp.72
  • Kocaeli University Affiliated: Yes



Res. Assist. Ömer Faruk Peksöz, Kocaeli University,


Is it even possible to talk about Foucault and Agamben without pronouncing biopolitics? Among literary critics, they are not only synonyms for such concepts as biopolitics, panopticon, and homo sacer, but also handy philosophers whose political theories are applicable to all literary texts. I suggest another reading, which, I argue, is more relevant to Foucault and Agamben’s interest in literature, and especially in modernist literary texts. This is an attempt to understand the cryptic opening to his reading of Maurice Blanchot: “‘I speak’”, announces Foucault “puts the whole of modern fiction to the test.” Expect therefore an analysis of what Foucault means by “pure exteriority of language” in both his The Thought from Outside and Agamben’s “Experimentum Linguae”. Stephen Dedalus’ experience of language in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man will serve as the exemplary modernist text in my paper. The relevance of this experience to modernness of modernist literature is unmistakable. Yet we make this mistake and resort to sociological, psychological, and political explanations. The simple yet haunting question is still before the literary critic: what is modern about modernist literature?.

Keywords: Foucault, Agamben, language, exteriority, modernist literature