When did Foucault lecture on Nietzsche?

Until recently, there were only two texts by Foucault explicitly on Nietzsche.

1. ‘Nietzsche, Freud, Marx’, Cahiers de Royaumont, VI, 1967, pp. 183-200. (The note in Dits et écrits says this was from a symposium at Royaumont in July 1964.)

2. ‘Nietzsche, la génealogie, l’histoire’, in Hommage à Jean Hyppolite, Paris: PUF, 1971, pp. 145-72.

Both texts are reprinted in Dits et écrits and appear, among other places, in volume 2 of Essential Works. There is also the discussion of Nietzsche in the first of the ‘Truth and Juridical Forms’ lectures given in Rio in May 1973 (in Dits et écrits and Essential Works, Volume 3).

Now, with the publication and translation of Lectures on the Will to Know, we have the text of a lecture from April 1971, given at McGill University. This lecture is given as an appendix to the course from the Collège de France, and stands in place of missing material. Part of the lecture of 16th December 1970 and the whole of the 23rd December 1970 lecture were on Nietzsche and are missing from the manuscript. The course editor Daniel Defert thinks this is because the pages were removed to be used as the basis for a lecture elsewhere. But not presumably the McGill lecture, which he says is only identifiable because of an additional page at the top, summarising key themes, written on hotel notepaper.

In his editorial material, Defert notes that Foucault lectured on Nietzsche at the University of Vincennes in the winter of 1969-70; then at SUNY Buffalo in March 1970, and then at McGill in April 1971. (In Buffalo Foucault also lectured on de Sade, lectures that are now published in La grande étrangère, on ‘What is an Author?’ and “the search for the absolute in Bouvard and Pécuchet”). Defert suggests that the outcome of these Nietzsche lectures “will be the long article: ‘Nietzsche, Genealogy, History'” (LWK 264/268).

Winter 1969-70 is late 1969 and early 1970, but in Dits et écrits Defert notes that Foucault gave a course on ‘Nietzsche and Genealogy’ in February 1969 – the previous academic year (Vol I, p. 34). He also notes that the tribute to Hyppolite, at the École Normale Supérieure, was held on 19th January 1969. This led to the Hommage à Jean Hyppolite volume, of which Foucault wrote the foreword (Dits et écrits text 67), and contributed a chapter, ‘Nietzsche, Genealogy, History’ (text 84). The ‘foreword’ was originally published in Revue de métaphysique et de moraleVol 74 No 2, 1969, pp. 131-6.

So, here are the three questions.

1. Did Foucault give two lecture courses at Vincennes, one in early 1969, and one in late 1969-early 70?

2. What was Foucault’s contribution to the 1969 Hyppolite tribute event? Was it [an early version of] ‘Nietzsche, Genealogy, History’, or the text that became the ‘foreword’, or something else? [Defert categorically states that Foucault wrote the Nietzsche essay in 1971].

3. For what lecture did Foucault remove the 16 and 23 December 1970 manuscript pages  from the Collège de France course?

With the first question, it’s possible that there was only one course, or that it was repeated. With the second question, if he gave a lecture on Nietzsche at the event, then it pre-dates other known lectures, with the exception of ‘Nietzsche, Freud, Marx’, and so wasn’t the outcome of those other lectures, but their predecessor. If it wasn’t ‘Nietzsche, Genealogy, History’ when was that text written [Defert says it was in 1971]? For the third question, on the basis of what we currently know, it’s unclear but the most likely candidate is the 21 May 1973 lecture in Rio – because the SUNY Buffalo lectures preceded the Collège de France course; while the McGill one appears to be different.

Here’s what it means in terms of the chronology:

19 January 1969, tribute to Hyppolite at the École Normale Supérieure

February 1969, lecture course on Nietzsche at University of Vincennes – unpublished

Winter 1969-70, lecture course on Nietzsche at University of Vincennes – unpublished

March 1970, lecture on Nietzsche at SUNY Buffalo – unpublished

16 Dec 1970, part of lecture on Nietzsche, Collège de France – removed from ms., now missing, presumed lost

23 Dec 1970 lecture on Nietzsche, Collège de France – removed from ms., now missing, presumed lost

April 1971, Lecture at McGill – ‘How to think the history of truth with Nietzsche without relying on truth’ (in Lectures on the Will to Know)

? 1971 ‘Nietzsche, Genealogy, History’ published in Hyppolite volume.

21 May 1973, ‘Truth and Juridical Forms’ lectures in Rio begin – the first lecture is very close to the McGill lecture of April 1971 (and to the Collège de France lectures from December 1970?).

Any additional information, or corrections, would be appreciated.

This entry was posted in Foucault's Last Decade, Friedrich Nietzsche, Jean Hyppolite, Michel Foucault. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to When did Foucault lecture on Nietzsche?

  1. Jeremy says:

    Reblogged this on Open Geography and commented:
    Stuart asks some interesting questions regarding Foucault’s lectures on Nietzsche. These come from his renewed attention to Foucault (for a book he has just contracted for) on Foucault’s “last decade.” While I cannot answer the questions, I would just repeat that my colleague Paul Karan remembers inviting Foucault to visit Kentucky in 1970/71 (on the basis of the argument that Foucault would be in the US, I think somewhere in the Midwest of perhaps judging from Stuart’s list in Buffalo) and on his way to the west coast. Paul argued that Kentucky was “on the way”! He says that Foucault actually did come here, but whether he lectured, and on what, I couldn’t say. It would certainly be interesting to know if we could get further evidence of his visit, and the topic (and whether it was 1970 or 1971).

    • stuartelden says:

      Thanks Jeremy. 1970/71 is an interesting date for that. According to Defert Foucault’s first visit to California was not until 1975, so I wonder where he was going on the West Coast. He gave lectures at Yale in 1970, and travelled a bit too – see Defert’s Chronologie/y, pp. 35-6/43-4. Defert says this was in ‘Faulkner Country’, and the Mississippi valley as far as Natchez. He could have easily passed through Kentucky on that trip. He was in Montreal in April 1971 (pp. 37/46).

  2. Jeremy says:

    In case you don’t see this on my blog, I posted a reply:

    I have a bit more information from Paul Karan.

    An email from PK to JWC Feb. 28, 2012:

    “As I recall it was summer of 1970 when Foucault visited UK [University of Kentucky]. He was on his way to California from Buffalo and stopped en route. He talked about his book on Knowledge to a group of graduate students from Sociology, Geography, Political Science and Anthropology. It has been a long time, but we had a good visit with him. I liked the man, but our views of the world and society were not identical.”

    In conversation with Paul he said that he met Foucault the previous year at a conference and invited him to come. So I guess that would have been 1969.

    • stuartelden says:

      Make it spring (March-April) 1970, not summer, and en route to Mississippi, not California, and Karan and Defert’s stories match up. Buffalo and Yale (March 1970), Kentucky, Faulkner country (April 1970) – a reasonable itinerary. Faulkner Country is likely in or around Lafayette County, MS which is the inspiration for Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha County (so says Wikipedia and other online sources), and Defert does mention the Mississippi Valley and Natchez (further south-west). Thanks for sharing the email and the detective work!

  3. Clare O'Farrell says:

    Reblogged this on Foucault News.

  4. Pingback: Foucault’s Last Decade – second update | Progressive Geographies

  5. Pingback: Michel Foucault, ‘Médecins, Juges Et Sorciers Au XVIIe Siècle’ – some thoughts on dating and content | Progressive Geographies

  6. ambulo says:

    Of course, Foucault made lectures in Vincennes, the title was “Nietzsche, la généalogie”. It was the 19/11/69, 17/12/69, 14/1/70, 28/1/70, 11/2/70, it was on wednesday, in the evening. I attended to it, may be i missed some lectures. Best regards

  7. Pingback: Notes de cours. Michel Foucault, centre universitaire expérimental de Vincennes, 1969-1970, Nietzsche, la généalogie. – Cinq heures du soir

  8. Pingback: Notes de cours. Michel Foucault, centre universitaire expérimental de Vincennes, 1969-1970, Nietzsche, la généalogie. | Cinq heures du soir

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