On the Poetics and History of a Literary Genre
Edited By Gerry Canavan
“The Suvin Event”
In “What Is an Author?” (1969), Michel Foucault proposes a category of authorship that goes beyond the creation of a single text: the “founder of discursivity,” who produces “the possibilities and rules for the formation of other texts.”1 Founders of discursivity establish both the theoretical template for the works that follow in the tradition they have called into existence, as well as setting the terms for what will not be included in that tradition, what will be thought of as beyond or outside or heretical to the newly created discourse. Foucault’s primary examples, Freud and Marx, suggest a heuristic that might partially distinguish this kind of foundational thinking, the widespread adoption of one’s name as an adjective, which might in turn prompt us to recognize other examples beyond the two he gives: “Nietzschean,” “Lacanian,” “Deleuzean,” almost certainly even “Foucauldian” itself. In contrast to the vision of “foundation” that one might find in the sciences – in which “the act that founds […] is on an equal footing with its future transformations” – the founder of discursivity becomes a “heterogeneous” origin point to which “its subsequent transformations” must situate themselves in relation.2 We do not seek to explain how, despite their apparent gaps in knowledge or incorrect calculations, Galileo or Newton really understood modern physics in its fullness after all – and yet this is precisely the apologetics that is characteristically performed on behalf of the founder of discursivity, whose apparent errors are always only the chance for...
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