Original Research

On Foucault’s idea of an epistemic shift in the 17th century and its significance for Baroque scholarship

B. F. Scholz
Literator | Vol 11, No 3 | a810 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/lit.v11i3.810 | © 1990 B. F. Scholz | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 06 May 1990 | Published: 06 May 1990

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B. F. Scholz, Rijksuniversiteit, Utrecht, South Africa

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In this article it is argued that the significance of Foucault’s view of history does not lie so much in the concept of epistemes, as in his emphasis on radical discontinuity as a historiographic principle. His programme also challenges literary history, the question inter alia being how discontinuity affects periodization. This question is situated among other questions of periodization. It is argued that in Foucault’s view the a priori of dispersion and the construction of a vertical series of series should govern periodization. Three fruitful implications of Foucault’s views for Baroque scholarship are discussed in the end, viz. that it allows the colligation of phenomena up till now viewed in isolation, the reinterpretation of phenomena already accounted for and the extension of our knowledge of the cultural matrix of the Baroque.


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