Foucault and the Iranian Revolution
Reassessed
in Foucault’s theatres
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Ten years ago, I published an article exploring questions of the politics of representation in jazz criticism in which I argued that ‘the death of the author’ actually promotes, in some contexts, some of the abuses of cultural power Michel Foucault most objects to in his 1969 lecture Qu’est-ce qu’un auteur? (later published as ‘What Is An Author?’), including the continued dominance of socially legitimated points of view and the continued marginalisation of social commentaries and critiques that oppose themselves to these dominant threads of discourse. Working from recent arguments made by Drucilla Cornell and Stephen D. Seely that Foucault’s Iranian Revolution interviews demonstrate his commitment to a ‘political spirituality’, this follow-up chapter reads collections and commentaries on Foucault’s Iranian interviews and considers what enhanced relevance Foucault’s thought and his distinctive approach to broadly political questions might have for performative disciplines like theatre studies and improvisation theory. The chapter concludes that Foucault’s perceived failure to recognise widely acknowledged truths about political power is not the failure to be intellectually responsible that he is charged with, but a provocative invitation to brush aside mainstream discourses and concern ourselves with precisely the kinds of questions that are being silenced.

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