This is, surprisingly, relevant to me as a PhD student and blogger. My supervisor recently suggested that I read Foucault’s The Order of Things, on the basis that in terms of its reflections upon big cultural and intellectual shifts it might be relevant to my work, but with the warning that it would not be an easy read. I’ve never read Foucault before, and although I relished philosophy as an A Level subject, I’ve yet to really become enthusiastic towards the idea of combining highly theoretical or philosophical ideas to my historical research. However, I’m not necessarily prejudiced against the idea, and I think it’s important at the outset of a PhD to be open to trying new things. So, off to Waterstones I went to procure a copy of the relevant text. (I found the small ‘philosophy’ section in the miscellaneous corner that all bookshops hide in a back corner, alongside books about Zen spirituality and a few diet books. I wondered what Foucault would make of that!) But possessing the text, and reading through it, is not the same as having a handle on it.
Therefore, I am planning to do for Foucault something a bit like what the Snark Squad has done for Fifty Shades of Grey (I wish I could say that was the first time Foucault has ever shared a sentence with said title, but this isn't true). At the end of each chapter, and before moving onto the next one, I will write a brief ‘re-cap’, along with any thoughts of my own. Hopefully, this process will both enable me to interact with the text more actively (and thus try to understand it better!) than I might if I was just taking notes for myself, and provide an insight into the text for those who haven’t read it, or amusement for those who have.
One brief disclaimer before we delve into The Order of Things - a 're-cap' is not, to me, a formal piece of academic writing. The re-caps will, hopefully, be a little bit fun to read. Any irreverence, however, does not indicate any lack of respect for the work under consideration. Finally, FYI, I will be reading the 2002 'Routledge Classics' edition, based on the 1970 English translation.