“With few exceptions, my best company on earth is that of Nietzsche,” Georges Bataille would write in 1945. Bataille would add: “I am the only one who presents himself, not as a glossator of Nietzsche, but as being Nietzsche himself.” Indeed, very early on, Georges Bataille drew on Nietzsche’s thought, finding in it a source of inspiration for his social-anarchist, anti-fascist beliefs. He resisted a narrow or ideological reading of Nietzsche, instead proposing a more holistic interpretation that would be highly influential on contemporary critical thought. In 1937, along with Jean Wahl, Pierre Klossowski, and André Masson, Bataille would edit an important collection of essays on Nietzsche in their review, Acéphale: religion, sociologie, philosophie. This publication would revive interest in Nietzsche’s thought on the Left in Europe during the war and post-war period.
The Columbia Center for Contemporary Critical Thought and the Society of Fellows in the Humanities at Columbia University are pleased to announce another 13/13 seminar series for 2016-2017. A broad range of contemporary critical thinkers in the 20th century drew inspiration from Nietzsche’s writings. Together, they developed a strand of critical theory that has influenced disciplines as varied as history, law, politics, anthropology, philology, and the theory of science. These twentieth century thinkers effectively forged a unique Nietzschean strand of contemporary critical thought, very different from other critical strands represented by the Frankfurt School or Lacanian psychoanalytic theory. This seminar series will proceed through a close reading of 13 contemporary critical thinkers who drew on and engaged Nietzsche’s thought and writings. The seminar series has been organized and will be moderated by Bernard E. Harcourt, Daniele Lorenzini, and Jesús R. Velasco.
Each seminar will be lead by two invited scholars, one from outside and the other from within Columbia University, as well as a commentator. Each seminar will follow a similar format, beginning with a short introduction of the readings and guests, followed by two short guest presentations (15-20 minutes max each) and a commentary (10-15 minutes max), and then open discussion with the participants for over an hour. The sessions will begin promptly at 6:15pm and will end promptly at 8:45pm. The format, then, will be as follows:
6:25pm Presentation by outside guest
6:45pm Presentation by Columbia guest
7:00pm Commentary and questions
7:15pm Open discussion and comments
8:30pm Closing remarks of the guests
8:45pm End of the seminar