AboutThe aim of the “Between Deleuze and Foucault” project is to establish an on-going collaborative and synergistic relationship between Purdue University and the Université de Paris VIII–Vincennes à St. Denis (University of Paris 8, Vincennes-St. Denis) in order to transcribe, translate, and make available online the seminars that the French philosopher Gilles Deleuze gave on Michel Foucault’s work at the University of Paris 8 during the years 1985-1986.
Deleuze and Foucault were two of the towering figures of French intellectual life in the latter part of the twentieth-century. Foucault (1926-1984) held a chair in the History of Systems of Thought at the prestigious Collège de France, and remains one of the most-cited authors in the humanistic disciplines. Deleuze (1925-1995), who taught at the University of Paris until his retirement in 1987, authored more than twenty-five books, and was one of the most important and influential European philosophers of the post-war period. While both Foucault and Deleuze were prolific authors, it is now widely recognized that some of the most significant work of both philosophers was presented in their weekly seminar lectures, which functioned more or less as experimental laboratories in which they tried out new ideas and concepts that often find no parallel in their published texts.
In recognition of this fact, the lectures Foucault gave at the Collège de France are currently being published simultaneously in French and English in a joint venture by two well-known and well-established publishing houses, Seuil/Gallimard in France and Palgrave Macmillan in the USA. On 15 April 2012, the French government formally recognized the importance of these lectures by declaring Foucault’s archives to be a “national treasure,” which prevented the sale of the documents abroad. The appearance of Deleuze’s seminar lectures, by contrast, has taken a somewhat different path. After Deleuze’s death, his family prohibited the publication of his seminar lectures in book form (they did not want profit to be made off the lectures), but instead permitted and indeed encouraged their free dissemination on-line. While this decision was no doubt in the spirit of Deleuze’s work, it has made the archiving and distribution of the lectures a more complicated process, which is now reliant on institutional and university support for its continuation.
In 1999, the Bibliothèque Nationale (BN) in Paris established an archive of recordings of all the seminars Deleuze gave at the Université de Paris VIII between 1979 and 1987. The seminars had been recorded by various students on cassettes, which the BN converted into digital files. In 2001, a group of preeminent French scholars, initially headed by the philosopher Alain Badiou, constituted a not-for-profit organization entitled “L’Assocation Siècle Deleuzien” that was focused exclusively on the transcription and dissemination of Deleuze’s recorded seminars on the Web. The Association, under the directorship of Prof. Marielle Burkhalter, initially produced transcriptions of three shorter seminars (on Anti-Oedipus, painting, and Spinoza), and then embarked on an ambitious project of transcribing Deleuze’s four-year seminar (1981-1985) on philosophy and cinema, which is still in-process. It is at this point that the “Between Deleuze and Foucault” project joined forces with the Association in order to transcribe Deleuze’s one-year seminar on Foucault (1985-1986).
The project is supported by two generous grants from the College of Liberal Arts at Purdue University: a Global Research Synergy grant and an Enhanced Research in the Humanities grant. The principal investigators for the grant are Prof. Daniel W. Smith, of the Department of Philosophy at Purdue University, and Prof. Nicolae Morar, a recent Ph.D. from Purdue who is currently teaching in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Oregon. They have joined forces with Prof. Burkhalter as well as Prof. Anne Sauvagnargues (University of Paris, Nanterre), who is one of the foremost scholars of Deleuze’s work in France, in order to make Deleuze’s seminar lectures available on-line to a wide audience, both in French and, in the near future, in English translation. Annabelle Dufourcq, who received her Ph.D. from the Sorbonne in 2008 and is currently at the University of Oregon, is in charge of transcribing the seminar lectures, and Jonathan Beever of Purdue University will be in responsible for the web design and editing.
In addition to the seminar transcription, we will be publishing a collection of essays on the topic, entitled Between Deleuze and Foucault, which will be co-edited by Prof. Morar and Prof. Thomas Nail of the Department of Philosophy at the University of Denver. In addition, a special issue of the journal Foucault Studies, devoted to the relation between Deleuze and Foucault, will be published in 2014. Finally, in early November 2012, the College of Liberal Arts will host a two-day conference on “Between Deleuze and Foucault,” which will be together contributors to both the book project and the special journal issue to discuss the significance and implications of Deleuze’s reading of Foucault.