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BAI Songzi, QIN Mingli



The role of madness has been an unexcavated part in studies of Foucault on transgression, especially with literary studies. This paper considers madness as the presence of transgression, and gives an account of madness from two different perspectives: tragic experience and critical consciousness. Madness as a tragic experience provides Foucault a way of transgressing death which is a limit that cannot be transcended; madness as a critical consciousness helps Foucault conceptualize the relation between reason and madness. The image of madmen in literary works can be recognized as the most typical embodiment of the connection between madness and transgression. Rather than aiming at a detailed explanation of Foucault’s understanding of madness, it attaches vital importance that how madness as a tragic experience and a critical consciousness becomes the presence of transgression. 


madness, transgression, tragic experience, critical consciousness

Cite this paper


During, S. (1992). Foucault and literature: Towards a genealogy of writing. London, New York: Routledge.

Foucault, M. (2006). History of madness. (J. Murphy & J. Khalfa, Trans., J. Khalfa, Ed.). London, New York: Routledge.

Foucault, M. (2015). Language, madness, and desire: on literature. (R. Bononno, Trans., P. Artieres, J. F. Bert, M. Potte-Bonneville & J. Revel, Eds.). London, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Sholtz, J. (2017). Transgression, Understanding Foucault, understanding modernism (D. Scott, Ed.). New York: Bloomsbury Academic.

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