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Foucault's manuscripts on phenomenology (1950s) at BnF archive: a digital approach to the edition

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - EDIFOU (Foucault's manuscripts on phenomenology (1950s) at BnF archive: a digital approach to the edition)

Período documentado: 2019-06-01 hasta 2021-05-31

EDIFOU’s aim was to explore, organize, digitally index and disseminate Michel Foucault’s unpublished manuscripts of the 1950s and the early 1960s on phenomenology, psychology, psychopathology, and anthropology (more than 7.500 leaves) collected since 2013 at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France Archive (Fonds Michel Foucault). This part of Foucault’s work is still totally unknown today, so that EDIFOU provided researchers with a new corpus, which is destined to become a reference work in the field of humanities. Together with proposing original theoretical analysis, EDIFOU met the most current issues of digital humanities especially related to cultural heritage. EDIFOU has started to achieve an original editorial program, and generate new knowledge by means of the development of innovative digital tools. EDIFOU strongly contributed to the improvement and further development of the digital tools that have been developed in the framework of Triangle’s ANR project 'Foucault Reading Notes' ( These tools have been employed and improved in the framework of several editorial projects.
EDIFOU was highly stimulating and offered intellectual challenges. It was an ambitious project that required not only specific scientific competences in the fields of philosophy, social sciences, and digital humanities, but also those personal and practical skills that enable a researcher to work in a team. The quality of the research environment, supervision, training, and host facilities at Triangle-ENS de Lyon gave me the opportunity not only to disseminate my research through diverse communication strategies, but also to profit from those skills, knowledge and training-related measures, which are fundamental to enhance my scientific independence and, as a consequence, my academic status. The next step of my career will be to find a permanent position in Italy, where my family lives (my first child was born in May 2021).

1 critical edition

1 monograph:

6 peer-reviewed journal articles:

2 book chapters:

6 articles in dictionary/encyclopedia:

2 volumes’ revised edition: (revision of the manuscripts and recordings’ transcriptions, and revision of the old critical edition), paperback edition:

Further Results:
- description of Foucault’s archives in the internet page of the EMAN’s project (with Arianna Sforzini, Vincent Ventresque, and Carolina Verlengia):
- virtual exhibit: “Binswanger et l’analyse existentielle” (
- index and bibliographical list of the archival box n. 36: Naissance de la clinique (666 sheets), and 37: Années de formation: Sorbonne, Rue D’Ulm
- analysis, index and bibliographical list of the archival box n. 35A (Autour de l’histoire de la folie
- analysis, index and bibliographical list of the archival box n. 34 A-B (Histoire de la folie, préparatifs)
- analysis, index and bibliographical list of the archival box n. 35 B (Autour de l’histoire de la folie)
My research on Michel Foucault’s early unpublished works resulted in two important volumes: the critical edition of the manuscript Binswanger et l’analyse existentielle (op. cit.), and the monograph Young Foucault: The Lille Manuscripts on Psychopathology, Phenomenology, Anthropology, 1952-1955 (op. cit.). Foucault’s early writings on psychology and psychopathology have been considered by most interpreters as immature in relationship to the “archaeological” work he launched with History of Madness, to the point that Foucault’s study of Binswanger’s existential anthropology (1954) was only translated into English in the mid-1980s, while his two 1957 articles on psychology have never been translated into English. But this position becomes untenable in light of the newly-discovered unpublished manuscripts of the 1950s, when Foucault was lecturer at the University of Lille and the École normale supérieure (Paris). These documents now allow us to acknowledge the discrepancy between the tremendous amount of work that the philosopher produced and the very few writings that he published in the decade before the publication of his doctoral dissertation in 1961. Besides, further archival sources provide us with new information and details about the philosophical context and scientific network in which Foucault elaborated his first works, thereby letting us gain a new and deeper understanding of his intellectual biography.
In particular, my monograph constitutes an original analysis of the general epistemological “style” and methodology of Foucault’s philosophical project at the moment of its inception. It blurs the boundaries between biography and theoretical research in order to retrace the transformations, the difficulties and sometimes the contradictions that characterize the intellectual trajectory of a philosopher who, as Foucault himself put it, “turned to psychology, and from psychology to history.” The book draws from my research in the Fonds Michel Foucault at the Manuscripts Department of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, as well as in various institutional and private archives in France, Germany and Switzerland.
Through a vast dissemination strategy at an international level (my publications are in several languages), my work is destined to become a global point of reference in the field of philosophy, social sciences and humanities. Moreover, my work on Foucault’s reading notes in order to make the critical edition of a manuscript, together with the acquisition of new knowledge, also impacts the methodological and epistemological reflection on the methods and strategies, which are implicit in the process of the construction of a philosophical corpus. The critical edition of Foucault’s manuscript Binswanger et l’analyse existentielle (op. cit.) is destined to be translated all over the world, and the monograph Young Foucault (op. cit.), published by the prestigious Columbia University Press, will be launched to the international market.
My intensive and systematic investigation into Foucault’s archives of the 1950s will offer new original inputs, thereby letting researchers all around the world not only to discover a new approach to Foucault’s ideas, but also to assess their impact in several philosophical topical debates on humanism, diversity, gender, and biopolitics. Potential users of the results of my project are not only established researchers, but also undergraduate and PhD students asking to consult the archive in the search for new information about Foucault’s intellectual path, as well as details and topics that can stimulate or even change the hypotheses behind their research. Drawing from this background, EDIFOU meets not only the growing demand from international researchers (esp. historians of philosophy and social scientists) of all levels for new information and knowledge about Foucault’s archive. My archival research will also be largely exploited by researchers who are currently working on editorial projects related to Foucault’s unpublished manuscripts.
Since the publication of the critical edition of Foucault’s manuscripts Binswanger et l’analyse existentielle (op. cit.), I have been contacted by a great number of international scholars.
Flyer conference Fiches et fichiers: L’archive Foucault à l’ère du numérique
Video: Foucault’s Critique of the Human Sciences in the 1950s
Cover of the volume: Binswanger et l'analyse existentielle (critical edition by E. Basso)
Contract monograph Columbia University Press