I attended Deleuze’s seminar from November 1981 to June 1986, i.e. his classes on the cinema and on Foucault. 

When I went to the first class I was surprised by how few people there were. I had previously attended his seminar for five months in 1980, and there were around a hundred present.

In this first class there were maybe fifteen. Deleuze explained that there were many demands on his time, and that he could only undertake to supervise doctoral research that had points that interlocked (“points d’accrochage”) with his own research. Several courageous students declared thesis topics that built on themes related to ANTI-OEDIPUS or A THOUSAND PLATEAUS. Deleuze replied each time with a triumphant grin that this was a very  interesting topic, but that it had nothing to do with his current research.

Some people regret that Deleuze and Guattari never went on to develop a schizoanalysis in any detail, but my constant feeling was that the cinema seminas were a practical example of schizoanalysis. This was not evident at first because the concepts had been taken to a further degree of deterritorialisation.

Deleuze several times emphasised that the classification of signs and images could also be applied to other domains, for example as a classification of personality types and of modes of existence.

During the classes Deleuze did not project any films, he showed no clips. The seminar was composed of mostly him talking, with a few questions, or extended “interventions” from others at the end of some lectures.

Deleuze always took a break in the middle, and sometimes people would profit from the break to ask him questions. He would answer directly, or would sometimes integrate his answers to these question into the second half of the class. Very occasionally there were guest speakiers, although the only one I recall is Guattari.

I do not know exactly what Deleuze’s cinematic practice was. Paris during that period was a great place for film retrospectives. During the four years of attending Deleuze’s cinema seminars I went to week long retrospectives of many cineasts including Eisenstein, Duras, Truffaut, Lelouch, Chabrol, Agnes Varda, Wenders, Godard, Resnais, Bresson, Ozu, Michael Snow, Fassbinder, Herzog, Robbe-Grillet, Tarkovsky, Straub and Huillet, Pasolini, Bunuel, Rosselini, Bunuel, Mizogushi, Fellini, Syberberg, Renoir, Jean Vigo, Ingmar Bergman, and many more.

It was truly inspiring to watch all these films with my head full of Deleuze’s concepts and discussions, going back and forth between the cinema and Deleuze’s seminars. It seemed that I was physically tracing the same back and forth between concept and image that was characteristic not only of Deleuze’s discussion of cinema, but of his philosophical style in general.


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  1. dmf says:

    thanks for sharing these reflections, good to have this sort of context for the texts and their reception.


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