When did Foucault lecture on Nietzsche?

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).

Progressive Geographies

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 écritsand 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…

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3 responses to “When did Foucault lecture on Nietzsche?

  1. 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. 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.

  3. (cross-posted from http://www.progressivegeographies.com)

    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 and fairly direct from Yale. 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 Defer does mention the Mississippi Valley and Natchez (further south-west). Thanks for sharing the email and the detective work!

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