I’ve mentioned the Deleuze Seminars project before – an online resource gathering recordings, transcriptions and translations of his teaching work. This kind of work is very valuable, but relies on source material. I know from my work on Foucault that sometimes people have recordings or other bits of evidence, and that they don’t always realise the value. So as well as sharing the link to the resource again, I also wanted to publicise the project’s appeal for help.
Did you attend Deleuze’s courses during the 1960s, 1970s, or 1980s? Do you have recordings or notes that you would be willing to have posted on The Deleuze Seminars website?
If so, please email us at <firstname.lastname@example.org>, or send us a message using “Contact Us” link in the website. If materials cannot be sent electronically, we will try to cover the cost of shipping them via the regular postal service. Items can be mailed to the director of the project, Daniel W. Smith, Department of Philosophy, Purdue University, 100 N. University Ave., West Lafayette, IN 47907 USA.
Materials sent to us will be posted as soon as possible, and our hope is that they can ultimately be transcribed and translated.
Deleuze began teaching at the University of Paris, Vincennes-St. Denis in 1969, where he taught until his retirement in 1987. Fortunately for posterity, a Japanese student named Hidenobu Suzuki recorded almost all Deleuze’s seminars between 1979 and 1987, and his cassettes became the basis for the archive established at the Bibliothèque nationale de France.
However, before 1979 we have few recordings of Deleuze’s seminars, most of which were devoted to the research that resulted in the two volumes of Capitalism and Schizophrenia. The extant recordings from this period primarily were made by Richard Pinhas and are available at WebDeleuze.
We are thus launching this data rescue effort to retrieve as many of these recordings as possible from the 1969-1979 decade (and even before). But the clock is ticking. Students who attended Deleuze’s course in 1970 when they were 25 years old are now 75 years old, and the cassette recordings form this period may soon be lost to posterity forever. So if you have recordings or notes—or know someone who does—please let us know.
We are grateful for your assistance in helping us complete this archive of Deleuze’s seminar lectures.
I will admit I am no great fan of French social theory and have trouble getting through it it, despite many attempts. But this raises questions for me. I am not sure why teaching work of this sort is considered valuable for archiving – is it simply about the scholar’s fame? utterances in class are off the cuff things, and lectures are assembled from secondary sources in large measure, especially these days [as seen on our many powerpoints amended from year to year with quotes, data and pics from others, with some of our own thoughts]. What may we learn from archiving of lecturer’s seminars that was not already published in more considered and polished form? Is it the case that major insights emerge in class that regularly need recording [but when has that happened, to anybody reading this? rare] ? Then also – will contemporary academics be, or want to be, captured in this way and documented/memorialised as well? We have all generated an enormous Zoom or Mp3/4 archive in recent years. I have been recorded in class since 2006 for example in thousands of hours of lectures in front of c5000 students. I can’t think of any occasion when anybody would want to look back and digest any of it when I am gone, and I would not inflict that on anybody either. I know we will disagree on all this, but I think the second point there might be important to discuss.
I can’t speak very well to the specifics of the Deleuze case. But I do know that his lectures on Foucault are much more extensive than the small book on Foucault which he published after delivering them, and so are a valuable resource for understanding the relation between the two people.
For thinkers whose work I know better, notably Heidegger and Foucault, their lecture courses are an invaluable resource for understanding both the development of their work and the ideas which they either chose not to publish, were unable to do so (i.e. Foucault’s late lectures, which indicate projects he did not live to complete) or their critical return to earlier themes. The way Foucault’s lectures have led to all sorts of other work is perhaps instructive. To take one example, the text on ‘Governmentality’ was originally a lecture, first published in Italian, then in English and French. With another thinker I know well, Lefebvre, one of the real absences is that his lecture courses are not available – his papers are in private hands.
Historically, thinkers such as Hegel and Kant, for example, are ones whose lecture material forms a crucial part of their overall body of work. The same is true for Husserl; Saussure’s influential work is largely known through a course; Kojève’s influential course on Hegel, and many other examples.
Naturally, some of this importance comes from the significance of the thinker themselves – Foucault or Deleuze’s lectures are more likely to be of interest to people than yours or mine. Some of that difference also comes from the type of lectures being given – Foucault’s at the Collège de France, for example, were research lectures – an express stipulation of the post he had, in an institution which had no formal students, and where one of the few requirements was that lectures were not repeated. Having seen the manuscripts of Foucault’s lectures, he prepared these with a great deal of care, even if he developed themes orally which are not worked out in detail on the manuscript page.
My historical approach to the work I do isn’t to everyone’s tastes, of course, but where possible if this material does exist I do think it should be catalogued and preserved. I have stories from my Foucault work of tapes which are ‘somewhere’, letters which are lost, manuscripts which might be in storage, etc. Sometimes people genuinely don’t realise that their copy of something might be the only or one of the few that still exists. I’ve spent weeks and weeks in the archives doing my Foucault research, and have increasingly been using the archives of other people – Binswanger, Canguilhem, Dumézil, Hyppolite, Roland Kuhn, etc. – as I’ve been developing this research.
Lecture materials, for me, are one of many crucial sources for reconstructing intellectual history – so too correspondence, drafts of published works, etc. I’m really grateful for the work of those people editing the Foucault lecture courses, and now increasingly manuscripts; in the same way I’m grateful for the work of Colli and Montinari with the Nietzsche Nachlaß, editors and translators of all the other thinkers I read. I feel similarly with ongoing work on Derrida, whose seminars are being edited and translated, and Deleuze.
We may not entirely agree, but this is part of the reason why I think this is really important work that should be supported.
Thanks – I guess I can see the point if these are something like the Reith Lectures – considered, written out, maybe even published later but it’s a shame to lose them. These days such things would be recorded several times over and never lost. Most countries have series of public lectures, and not all by philosophers/intellectuals/theorists either [I guess intellectuals have a special place in France, or did – here in AU , they are not appreciated much at all]. These French or German lectures seem seem to be from a bygone age and all in the category of [almost all male] ‘thinkers’ or ‘intellectuals’.
My point is that lecturing these days bears little relationship to Derrida and the others – mostly for a class or module,proscribed, rendered comprehensible, amended from year to year, sometimes done by poorly paid adjuncts who leave with little trace from institution to institution, and you also park your personal opinions and ego firmly in the background. There are ‘talks’ in universities, but usually reporting research you already did, not making an ‘argument’ – at least outside philosophy etc. Also there some ‘public lectures’ in major cities but they are rarely in a series I think. I think modern uni class lecturing, which has the most hours, probably doesn’t need saving because the chances of gaining longlasting insight from them is pretty slim [unfortunately, there are recordings, and some end up on youtube!]. To be honest universities hardly reward us for the words that we speak in our teaching. And only a little more for giving ‘named lectures’ . mostly interested in starred and ranked publications and large grants.
Thanks Simon. Agree about the relative weight Universities put on things these days. Not sure it is entirely a historical question though – at the Collège de France these kinds of lectures continue, and some are published by the lecturers, others perhaps will be. There are important series of lectures – Wellek lectures, Tanner lectures, etc. These are generally published of course. But to pick an example from Geography, I’m very glad that David Harvey’s long running classes on Marx’s Capital have been filmed for use now, and to be kept for posterity, while he is still teaching – as well as forming the basis for his two Companion books.