The Dis/Order of Things: Predisciplinarity After Foucault


October 2009

An Interdisciplinary Workshop
With a Keynote Lecture by Professor Simon During (Johns Hopkins)


This interdisciplinary research workshop brings together postgraduates, academics from different fields, and curators to think about Enlightenment Objects and discuss questions of disciplinarity in the wake of Michel Foucault’s seminal work The Order of Things (Les Mots et Les Choses 1966).

The first part of the meeting features a short presentation by British Museum curators Kim Sloan on curating the Enlightenment Gallery and Frances Carey on James Cook’s hand. These panoramic and microscopic approaches open up questions about the lives of objects. Because Cook’s voyages and associated forms of cultural encounter have enjoyed substantial attention in recent interdisciplinary studies, this session is a chance to revisit familiar ground focussing specifically on how Cook objects work in different exhibition contexts and practices. After the two presentations we open the ground for general discussion, hoping you will share the object questions that arise in your own research.
In preparation for the session, you are asked to familiarize yourself with the Enlightenment Gallery at the British Museum and the Catalogue of the Forster Collection, originally donated to the Ashmolean Museum and now in the Pitt Rivers (online at http://projects.prm.ox.ac.uk/forster/home.html).

We then move on to rethink our objects and questions with Michel Foucault’ revisit Michel Foucault’s The Order of Things (1966). Foucault’s The Order of Things was arguably one of the most influential and ground-breaking books in twentieth-century intellectual history, an investigation into the conditions of possibility of the human sciences that offered an archeology of the disciplines. Foucault’s work produced an often unrecognizable and deliberately controversial account of the ruptures within and between traditionally defined epistemes such as economics, natural history and philology. The repercussions and controversies generated by this text continue to resonate within current debates on disciplinarity, and especially on the relations between the humanities and the sciences. Full text on line:


Finally we  conclude with a keynote by Professor Simon During (John Hopkins), the author of Foucault and Literature: Towards a Genealogy of Writing (1993), The Cultural Studies Reader (1993), Modern Enchantments: The Cultural Power of Secular Magic (2002).

Enlightenment Objects: Panoramic, Microscopic, Theoretical
Enligthenment Collections / Enlightenment Objects

Luisa Calé – Introduction
Kim Sloan (Curator, British Museum), on the Enlightenment Gallery
British Museum Enlightenment Gallery
Frances Carey (Curator, British Museum), on James Cook’s Hand
questions: .
Professor Simon During (Johns Hopkins):
‘Lost Objects: Magic and Mystery in the late English Enlightenment’
questions: .
(Venue: room B36, Malet Street Building)
Contact: l.cale@english.bbk.ac.uk

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  • jayne

    thank you for making these available

  • branki

    Are these soundfiles available as podcasts for itunes?

    • All single entry podcasts are available in iTunes. All you have to do is click on the iTunes icon on the home page and you can access them there. This entry, however, is a multiple entry page, and iTunes will only play the first one. So to listen all entries on this page in iTunes you will have to download the desired podcast and place them into your iTunes player.
      I hope this helps.