History of Structuralism
2: The Sign Sets, 1967-Present
Francois Dosse

Part II
May I968 and Structuralism;
or, The Misunderstanding



Referring to the different forms of structuralism, some spoke of a 1968 mind-set. Was there a kinship between the prevailing thinking, structuralism, and the events of May 1968? It is certainly true that structuralism presented itself as critical thought, and we can imagine its harmony with the protests of May 1968, but can we be altogether certain? Indeed, there is a flagrant paradox, for what could link a form of thinking that gives priority to the reproduction of structures and to synchronic games of formal logic with an event that completely breaks with a consumer society in full flower?

Before trying to answer this question, we might usefully recall how structuralism was viewed on the eve of May 1968 in that sanctuary of university protest known as the University of Nanterre. The two personalities who dominated the ideology at Nanterre were both well known for their hostility to structuralism, although each for different reasons.

Touraine and Lefebvre, at the Antipodes of Structuralism The sociology department was a hotbed of protest. Daniel Cohn-Bendit, the historical leader of the movement, was a sociology student, like a good number of the radical militants mobilized against the American war in Vietnam. In addition to their increasingly determined protest against the bombings of the Vietnamese population, these students rejected their role as makers of tests used to recruit and


train business managers and workers. The sociology department was popular and a veritable stronghold of student malaise since many students were sure that they would have no professional future. And it was dominated by Alain Touraine. "Touraine was the professorial head of the movement, and he possessed an innate sense of the crowd and an undeniable oratorical talent."!

Touraine favored action, the possibility of change, and the role of individuals as social categories in these transformations. He drew a parallel between the role of student movements in the sixties and workers' movements in the nineteenth century. This allowed him to valorize the university as a place where real change occurred, contrary to Bourdieu's position. His sociology had nothing to do with structuralism; his criticism of French society in the name of the necessity of modernization echoed a good part of the student movement, which was a real social movement. In 1968, he wrote important work on it, The Movement of Mayor Utopian Communism.2 Sociology students were less attracted to Levi-Strauss's The Elementary Structures ofKin-ship than to works like the Situationist International's On Misery in the Student Milieu,3 which sold ten thousand copies and made a real impact, or Guy Debord's The Society of the Spectacle.' or Raoul Vaneighem's Treatise ofSauoir-uiore for the Young.5

The second important tutelary figure at Nanterre for the movement of 1968 was Henri Lefebvre, the philosopher. Equally reticent about structuralism, Lefebvre contrasted the dialectic and movement to this static thinking that, in its search for timeless invariables, he considered to be a negation of history. As we have already seen, Lefebvre even linked this mode of thinking to advancing technocracy, which would affirm the end of history as it rose to power. In his teaching, Henri Lefebvre focused on a multidimensional critique of society. His major contribution was to use a framework that moved beyond economism to include the various aspects of daily life: home, city planning, belief systems. "Everything came into the critical eye."6

Lefebvre criticized structuralists for their myopic emphasis on structure to the detriment of the other levels of analysis, and worked on notions of form, function, and structure without giving any order of priority. First a CNRS researcher, and then on the faculty at the University of Strasbourg from 1958 to 1963, where situationism and On Misery in the Student Milieu were launched, Henri Lefebvre was appointed to Nanterre in 1964, when it opened its doors. Daniel Cohn-Bendit was one of his students for two years.

He was slightly older than the others, and very smart. The important connoisseurs of a society are always external to that society. He had an extraordinary influence. I remember the first time he interrupted a meeting of all students interested in the social sciences, around November 10, 1967. There were quite a few of them. Alain Touraine was giving a speech explaining that he was goingto teach them some very important things. Cohn-Bendit got up and said, "Monsieur Touraine, not only do you want to produce the train cars, but you also want to get them rolling"; all twelve hundred students broke out laughing."

Unfamiliar with the thinking of the time based on linguistics, Henri Lefebvre did not embrace any of the PCF positions either-he had been excluded from the party in 1956. But as a critical Marxist, he defended dialectical thinking against the different forms of structuralism: Bourdieu, for him, was a "positivist sociologist,"8 Foucault had "eliminated critical aspects from thinking,"? Althusser "made Marxism rigid and eliminated all flexibility from the dialectic.... Althusser has the same relationship to Marxism as the Thomists do to Aristotelianism: a clarification, a systematization, but which no longer has anything to do with reality."!"

A Real Fascination

At Nanterre, Lefebvre's critical work was furthered by his two assistants, Jean Baudrillard and Rene Lourau. Lourau had been at Nan-terre since 1966 and recalled that structuralism was well spoken of only in order "to bury it gleefully."ll He found structuralism to be antimodern and cold, not only from a Marxist perspective-he was a Marxist at the time-but also with respect to the modernism of Crozier or Touraine, "which seemed more dynamic to us, even if we criticized them." 12

Rene Lourau discovered structuralism in 1964 while he was a high-school teacher. Georges Lapassade had brought him to the last big historical of the UNEF (National Union of Students of France) colloquium in Toulouse, where he read Althusser's article in La Nouvelle Critique on the problems of the university. "There was something which seemed completely nuts to us in this distinction between the technical and social divisions of labor. In fact, he was reestablishing traditional autocratic pedagogy, which we were beginning to fight."13 Two years later, at Henri Lefebvre's property in Navarrinx, there was a meeting of the group Utopia, which had founded its journal. During their two-week work session the group read and commented on Fou-cault's The Order ofThings, and was stupefied by the fact that he relegated Marx to the shadows of the nineteenth century. "His casual elimination of Marxism as a sort of old witchcraft made us furious."14 If those around Henry Lefebvre initially reacted by more or less rejecting structuralism, things got more complicated later. Every member of the group was in fact attracted by this or that aspect of structuralist work, even if there was a general critique of what was perceived as an ideology. Rene Lourau, for example, was impressed by jakobson's work in linguistics, seduced by Barthes, read Levi-Strauss with a great deal of interest, and went with a group of psychology students from the Sorbonne to Lacan's seminar every week. So it would be untrue to speak about a true confrontation between the Nanterre group and the structuralists ("It wasn't the battle of Fontenoy"),15 but rather of a syncretic reality composed of contradictory convictions, which were occasionally lived with a certain bad conscience: "I was a disciple of Lefebvre and had the vague impression of being unfaithful to him. It was a certain relationship to the father. "16

This syncretism also held for Jean Baudrillard, Henri Lefebvre's assistant and a Master's student of Pierre Bourdieu in 1966-67, whose critical work was quite close to that of Barthes. Along the lines of Barthes's unfinished work in Mythologies, Jean Baudrillard continued an abrasively critical sociosemiological approach to the ideology of the consumer society in his 1968 The System of Objects,'? In a 1969 article in Communications he criticized the usual notions of need and use value, which he replaced with their sign function.tf

There were also two adversaries of structuralism in the philosophy department at Nanterre: Paul Ricoeur and Emmanuel Levinas, both of whom were partisans of a phenomenological approach. And the psychology department was just as removed from the structuralist paradigm: two of the four professors who taught there, Didier Anzieu and Jean Maisonneuve, were clinical social psychologists and their assistants had some experience with group dynamics, based essentially on American theoreticians such as jacob Levy Moreno, Kurt Lewin, and Carl Rogers. At the time, Didier Anzieu was publishing under the pseudonym Epistemon, and saw the growing atmosphere of protest at

Nanterre as an extension of this group dynamic. "What social psychologists restrict to group dynamics suddenly becomes the general dynamics of the group."19

Although structuralism did not win the social sciences departments at Nanterre to its cause, it did nonetheless fascinate many and score more decisive points in literature thanks to Jean Dubois and Bernard Pottier, who created a kernel of structural linguistics around them. When the events of May 1968 unfolded, Jean Dubois had just published his transformational grammar of the French language at Larousse and had organized the first colloquium on generative grammar. However, this was not enough to assimilate the ambient ideology of the campus at Nanterre to structuralism. Slightly later, the walls would blossom with scrawled slogans like" Althusser is useless."20


Jean-Paul Sartre's Revenge

It is 5 a.m. Paris awakens to barricades, trees strewn in the streets. The protest is, according to General de Gaulle, difficult to grasp. Unforsee-able, it profoundly shakes the government. A radical protest is sweeping France and provoking the most important social movement the country has ever known: ten million strikers. A shock. France was less drowsy than had been believed. History was gleefully buried; some had been looking for its last traces in third-world countrysides soon to encircle the cities, but instead it struck at the very heart of Paris.

Sartre could savor this rush of existential fever among dissatisfied youth all the more so in that two years earlier Michel Foucault had disparagingly presented him as a good nineteenth-century philosopher. But Sartre was tougher than that. As Didier Anzieu, under his pseudonym of Epistemon, wrote, "The student revolt of May tried out its own version of Sartre's formula, 'The group is the beginning of humanity.'''l Sartre's analysis of the alienation of individuals caught up in the practico-inert, and his insistence on the capacity of individuals to impose freedom by the actions of committed groups fused into a dialectic that made it possible to escape isolation and atomization, shed more light on May I968 than did any structuralist position about structural chains, the subjected subject, or systems that reproduce or regulate themselves.

May I968 made no mistake. jean-Paul Sartre was the only major intellectual allowed to speak in the main lecture hall of the Sorbonne

II2 at the heart of the uprising. Reconciled with the younger generation, he explained over the radio that it had little option other than violence to express itself in a society that refused to dialogue with those who rejected its adult modeL On the eve of May 10, 1968, just before the famous night of the barricades, a text came out in Le Monde signed by jean-Paul Sartre, Maurice Blanchot, Andre Gorz, Pierre Klossowski, Jacques Lacan, Henri Lefebvre, and Maurice Nadeau clearly siding with the student movement:

The solidaritywe affirm here with the movement of students throughout the world-this movement that has abruptly, in the course of a few shattering hours, shaken up that society of well-being that is perfectly incarnated in the Frenchworld-is first of all an answer to the lies by which all the institutions and political parties (with very few exceptions), and all the newspapers and tools of communication (practically without exception), have been seeking for months to alter this movement and pervert its meaning and even attempt to portray it as laughable.?

The Divine Surprise

For everyone over whom the structuralist wave had washed, it was a divine surprise to be in sync with protesting youth who were making history with their actions and belying the paralysis in which they were ostensibly trapped. This was true for the old Arguments group. Jean Duvignaud, who was teaching at the time at the old Philosophy Institute in Tours, "came up" to Paris. To illustrate the festive aspect of the events, he, together with Georges Lapassade, put a piano in the Sor-bonne courtyard. He ran through the "liberated" Sorbonne with Jean Genet for two weeks, and announced "the end and the death of structuralism" in front of a fascinated audience in the big lecture hall.3 Jean Genet looked upon him skeptically. "He didn't give a damn, but he was fed up with listening!"? Then Jean Duvignaud and other writers joined in the "taking" of the Massa Hotel. "Nathalie Sarraute gripped my arm saying, 'Duvignaud, do you think that it was like this when they took the Smolny Institute?'''5 Then, at Censier with Michel Leiris, Jean Duvignaud shouted what became one of the most famous slogans of May 1968: "Let's be realistic: demand the impossible!"

Edgar Morin was as much in his element as jean Duvignaud during May 1968. With Claude Lefort and jean-Marie Coudray (Cornelius Castoriadis), he wrote May '68: The Breacbf an apology for this juvenile commune, this irruption of a youthful sociopolitical force, a veritable faceless revolution with a thousand faces transcending itself in a class struggle of a new type, mobilized against the entire machinery of integration and manipulation set in place by the rising technocracy.

For having been negated, history negated its own negation, and Epistemon announced that May 1968 "is not only a student strike in Paris, ... but the death warrant of structuralism as well."? In November, Mikel Dufrenne, the philosopher who had written For Man, 8 confirmed, "May was the violence of history in a period that wanted to avoid all histories."? The freeze that Edgar Morin had seen triumphing when he stopped putting out his own review Argonauts in 1960 gave way to spring. Imaginative, spontaneous graffiti was scrawled everywhere expressing every kind of desire. This breath of collective fresh air went well beyond attacking the trees in the Latin Quarter. Behind the overturned cars, it was codes that were targeted and crushed. It was the shrieking return of the repressed: the subject, lived experience. Spoken language, which epistemo-structuralism had eliminated, could then unfold, in an undefined flood.

Structuralists in Disarray

The new structuralist edifice was shaken by May 1968, and so were structuralism's founding fathers. At the College de France, at the heart of the Latin Quarter and of the strikes, Algirdas julien Greimas ran into Levi-Strauss, who made no secret of his regret. "It's over. All scientific projects will be set back twenty years."lO What's more, given this deleterious context, Levi-Strauss, in a very de Gaullian fashion, withdrew from the College de France and waited to be called back once business resumed. "When I heard the screeching, I withdrew to my home, making a number of excuses and leaving them to fight it out with each other. There were about eight days of internal agitation and then they came to get me."ll For the father of structuralism, May '68 was like a descent into hell, the expression of the decline of the university and of a degeneration reaching back to the beginning of time, and going from generation to generation. Levi-Strauss's pessimistic conception of history was confirmed; history was never more than the leading edge of a long decline toward the ultimate disappearance.

Algirdas julien Greimas, the grand master of the most scientific semiotics, prepared for a difficult period. He fully agreed with Levi-Strauss that scientific projects had been set back twenty years. "From 1968 to 1972, everything was called into question. 1 don't know how 1 was able to stand my own seminar since having a scientific project seemed ridiculous when you were teaching people who had exercised verbal terrorism to explain that everything was ideological."12 For three years, Greimas was reduced to silence in his own seminar on the sciences of language and went through a particularly bad time when the group that had been created around him between 1964 and 1968 was dispersed. May 1968 was a catastrophe for him.

Levi-Strauss saw May 1968 as a real turning point. At the profoundly solemn ceremony of the Erasmus Prize, which he was awarded in 1973 in Amsterdam, he declared that "structuralism, happily, has not been in style since 1968."13 He congratulated himself for having continued to see structuralism as a scientific method rather than a philosophy or speculative thinking, and it was doing better in the seventies than it had during the late sixties. Its wane had above all affected this second element of structuralism, for which he had never felt any real intellectual sympathy.

Levi-Strauss cast a disapproving eye on any evolution toward de-construction and the multiplication of codes, which was contemporary with 1968. He answered S/2 by a carefully argued letter to Barthes in which he proposed another reading of Balzac; incest was the key to this reading. Barthes took the demonstration quite seriously, and called it "stunningly convincing,"14 whereas, according to Levi-Strauss, the whole thing was a joke. "I hadn't liked S/2. Barthes's commentary resembled too closely that of Professor Libellule in Muller and Reboux's In a Racinian Style.t> So 1 sent him a few pages in which 1 exaggerated even more, a little ironically." 16

Structures Don't Take to the Streets

If there was a May '68 mind-set, it was not to be found among the tenants of structuralism, but rather among its adversaries, including Jean-Paul Sartre, Edgar Morin, Jean Duvignaud, Claude Lefort, Henri Lefebvre, and, of course, Cornelius Castoriadis. Castoriadis's Socialism or Barbarism group had always decried structuralism as a pseudo-scientific ideology that legitimated the system and had argued for the self-institutionalization and social autonomy that made it possible to change all of the inherited system, from capitalism to the bureaucratic society. "What May '68 and the other movements of the sixties showed was the persistence and power of the goal of autonomy." 17

The May '68 shake-up was such that Le Monde published a long section in November of the same year on the topic "Has Structuralism Been Killed by May '68?" with articles by Epistemon (Didier Anzieu), Mikel Dufrenne, and Jean Pouillon, who played the role of peacekeeper. In "Reconciling Sartre and Levi-Strauss," Pouillon accorded each a specific and clearly delineated terrain: an ethnological method for one, philosophy for the other. And since these were not on the same level, there could be neither confrontation nor opposition.t" For some, May '68 was the death if not of structuralism, at least of "triumphant structuralism."19 "All 1968 belied the structural world and structural man. "20

No one was spared, and not only was the root of structural theory affected but certain structuralists were considered mandarins, even if they had only had peripheral positions up until that point. "I remember the meetings of the Action Committee on the sciences of language at which the professors didn't have the right to speak. Greimas's and Barthes's seminars had been combined. They must have been there but weren't allowed to do more than answer questions."21 One day, Catherine Backes-Clement was returning from a philosophy general assembly and read a three-page motion ending with: "It is clear that structures don't take to the streets." This observation, like a bell tolling for structuralism, was written on the blackboard and amply and energetically commented on in front of Greimas. The next morning, Greimas, who had been there when the slogan was announced for the first time, found a large poster stuck to the door, announcing, "Barthes says: Structures don't take to the streets. We say: Barthes doesn't either. "22 By attacking Barthes and attributing remarks to him in his absence, the movement was attacking structuralism in general, viewed as a science of the new mandarins. This was in fact Greimas's analysis, and he thought "Barthes is only a metonymic actor here for an 'actant' we will call 'all structuralists.'"23 Barthes, however, seemed strongly affected by May '68 and even elected to exile himself for a time to get away from the theater of Parisian operations. When the Moroccan professor Zaghloul Morsy suggested that he come to Rabat, "he leaped at the opportunity. "24

We know how Althusser was used by the movement. May seemed to better illustrate the theses of the young Marx who denounced humanity's suffering because of its alienation. May '68 was a protest against the way structuralist thinking saw the world, and the priority it gave to all kinds of determinations helping to establish the stability of the system; the protesters believed that they could free themselves from the structures of alienation in order to take the great leap toward freedom. "A sweet illusion, of course, but a necessary one because these changes had to take place."25 Even if Roger-Pol Droit did not live May '68 as a protest against structuralist ideas-on the contrary-it seemed to him that in the aftermath May '68 "could have been read in the sense of a sort of protest, or compensation for the conceptual enclosure, of what I call the grid. "26 Of course those who had been there did not think along these lines, but what was going on mobilized a kind of affect that was altogether contrary to structuralism's theoretical disincarnation. The inexorable decline of the paradigm was, in this respect, the product of May 1968.

The Event Erupts: A Lesson in Modesty May 1968 exhumed what structuralism had repressed. History once again became a subject for discussion, even among linguists. In 1972, issue 15 of the review Langue [rancaise, edited by jean-Claude Chevalier and Pierre Kuentz, was thus devoted to the topic "Linguistics and History."2? Certainly the desire to make structures more dynamic had been expressed by Julia Kristeva as early as 1966, and the tendency had been confirmed and accelerated. Similarly, the events of May '68 ensured the success, beginning in 1970, of the questioning of the subject, of a linguistics of enunciation, and therefore of Benveniste's theses. Even if the ego had somewhat changed since the psychoanalytic break, and was split to such a degree that the all-purpose sentence became the

famous "it hurts me___somewhere." This metamorphosed ego was

back with a vengance. In 1972, jane Fonda and YvesMontand finished Godard's Tout va bien with a dawn shot: the dawn of thinking oneself historically, a clear sign of the new tendencies of the time.

Studying language also began to mean studying its social dimension. Labov's ideas, the birth and spectacular development of "socio-linguistics," made it possible to reintroduce the referent. In sociology, an alternative sociology raised its head, based on group dynamics and expressing the events of May 1968 rather than a structural sociology. Georges Lapassade's research on institutional sociology was organized along these lines, implying a "method by means of which a group of analysts, at the request of a social organization, institutes in this organization a collective process of self-analysis. "28 A whole area of non-directive pedagogy developed along the lines of the antimandarin protest slogan, "The old teacher-student relationship is abolished. "29

The scientism claimed by the social sciences was hard put by the enigmatic events of May 1968. The fact that sociology ostensibly studied the way society functions and had missed the precursory signs of the tempest was a good lesson in modesty. Francine Le Bret, a sociology student at the Sorbonne, took part in a survey on student participation in political life. The results showed that, contrary to the Durkheimian hypothesis that students were committed fighters, they were in fact rather well satisfied. And this on the eve of May '68! "It was obvious that this survey was idiotic and that we had missed the mark."30

This somewhat disqualified the social sciences and their methods of classification, which were revealed as inadequate and incapable of predicting events. This was a rather contradictory effect of May '68, for although it affected the social sciences whose growth had made the growth of structuralism possible, structuralism had already long ago taken a critical position with respect to their methods. Whence the recuperation/criticism of the social sciences by structuralism, which attacked their empiricism and shifted the question toward understanding the conditions under which a scientific object could be constructed in the social sciences.


There was also a comical dimension to May '68. Structuralism was not spared when a philosopher by the name of Clement Rosset, using the pseudonym Roger Crernant, published the satirical Structuralist Mornings.31 The book caused quite a stir among university professors, casting the structuralist style or tone as an initially brilliant and later exhausted fireworks display. Different kinds of structuralism were typologized: the structuralist parvenu: Michel Foucault; precious structuralism: Roland Barthes and Jacques Lacan; rustic structuralism: Michel Serres;neopositivist structuralism: the ENS and Louis Althusser. Conceptual advances were reduced to a few truisms. Louis Althusser's great discovery was that "It would be untrue to crudely affirm that Beethoven's Seventh Symphony reproduces the economic structure of Germany at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Of course, it did reproduce it, but not completely."32 This neopositive variation of structuralism did little more than offer a series of banalities, but it nonetheless had the merit of not giving the reader a headache. Such was the case, according to the author, with Pierre Macherey's book, which took three hundred pages to explain that literature was a product, like carrots, but a slightly special product.

Derrida was not as easy to read, and his writing process was described as follows: "I write a first sentence, but in fact I should not have written it, excuse me, I will erase everything and I'll start over again; I write a second sentence, but, after thinking about it, I should not have written that one either. "33 The book continues with a scene worthy of Marivaux's Les Precieuses ridicules dramatizing a meeting of Les Cahiers pour l'analyse at the ENS, led by Louis Althusser, incarnated by Louise, the rehearsal mistress surrounded by her feverishly faithful and entirely interchangeable disciples with barely altered names, including Jacques-Alain Minet (Miller) and jean-Claude Miney (Milner) [the last names are homophonic and play on the popular term for "little darling"-Trans.]. One of the disciples, however, Michel Poutreux, dares to give a presentation that draws such remarks as "You are a liar and a plagiarist." But when Miney/Minet read their contribution, they are applauded. It turns out that Poutreux's text is exactly the same as Miney/Minet's. Louise reacts: "This may be simply fortuitous: the unexpected encounter of a signifying insignificance with an insignificant signified. I have already been told about such curious encounters."34 This small book recalling the caustic spirit of '68 humorously poked fun at codified language, stilted speech, and the clan mentality.


Taken by surprise by the unforeseen irruption of history during May '68, the structuralists were quick to regroup. Althusser in particular was a target for his emancipated disciples, the Maoists of the Proletarian Left. By year's end, there were many demonstrations of an irreversible break: "Althusser is useless!" "Althusser not the people!" 35 "Althusser has gone to sleep, but the popular movement is doing fine!" The Althusserians had a bad time of it and were just as much the objects of opprobrium, criticized for their love of theory and for having stayed in the PCF and lending their support to the revisionist enemy of the Maoist groups, who believed that they incarnated the people moving forward. May '68 was clearly perceived right away as a difficult moment for the authors of Reading Capital. "May '68 was the moment when texts against Althusser began to proliferate. I remember bookstore windows completely full of hostile books and journals. This was a very difficult time, exactly the reverse of the preceding period."36 Pierre Macherey had been appointed to the Sorbonne in I966 on the basis of the success of Althusser's work, and he continued to give courses, but under difficult conditions. Etienne Bal-ibar went to Vincennes (Paris VIII) in I969, but stayed only for a few months because he could not stand the repeated assaults of the Maoists, led by Andre Glucksmann, who kept sending bigger and bigger groups of commandos to classes, shouting, "Get out of here, Balibar!"37They got what they wanted.

For the Althusserians, the post-'68 period was personally very difficult, but they were also forced to reset their theoretical sights. "What '68 taught us was that there is something else to do besides philosophy, besides studying books. We tried to do things more concretely and less abstractly."38 May '68 splintered the ambivalent Althusserians into their two components: the theorists, who kept to the PCF line, and those who favored a break and more concern for events, influenced by Lacan. This group joined the movement, and the frenzied political activism that donned the garb of Maoism. jacques Ranciere was the only author of Reading Capital who adopted this activism without adopting Lacanian thinking: "There were, grossly put, those for whom it was the theory of knowledge and those for whom it was a theory of truth."39 The Althusserians had a few problems, therefore, with praxis and the subjects of the historical process.

Foucault beyond Torment

Michel Foucault was in Sidi-Bou-Said, Tunisia, writing his Archaeology ofHuman Knouiledge.t» when May '68 exploded. Out of touch with what was going on, he returned to Paris for only a few days at the end of May and confided to Jean Daniel, the editor of Le Nouvel Observateur, while they were watching a student march: "They are not making the revolution, they are the revolution."41

Some of Foucault's students in Tunis were arrested and tortured by the government during the spring of I968. Foucault intervened firmly to defend them, actively supported the mobilization to free the prisoners, and let activists use his garden to print their tracts. He was even hassled by the police in civilian dress, and slapped on the road leading to Sidi-Bou-Said. Foucault thus also experienced the student ferment and got completely involved in action against the repression. This was a decisive change for a philosopher who, since his break with the peF, had been more of a reformist. "In Tunisia I was led to concretely help students. In a certain way I was forced to enter the political arena. "42

Thus, a new Michel Foucault was born in spring 1968, who incarnated the hopes and battles of a student generation. These events led him to bring practice back into what until then had been a purely discursive perspective. And from then on, he was involved in every battle and resistance movement against all forms of punishment. On February 8, 1971, he organized the Information Group on Prisons, whose manifesto was cosigned by jean-Marie Domenach and Pierre Vidal-Naquet. He became totally involved in the battle against French prison conditions, to the point of transforming his apartment into the headquarters for the organization and inviting the families of prisoners to make public and visible this hidden side of the democratic system. Foucault held no position of power in France in May 1968 and could therefore escape the antimandarin protests. His was a felicitous osmosis with the movement as of fall 1968, when he returned to Paris, but he was an exception during a period that seemed to send clear signs of its rejection of all structuralists.


Lacan: Structures Have Taken to the Streets!

May 1968 was a whirlwind with contradictory aftereffects. Paradoxically, the national strikes and student protests ensured the success of structuralism: just as students protested against the Sorbonne as the stronghold of mandarins, academicism, and despised tradition, the structuralist critique also waged its battle against the classical humanities in the same venerable institution.

In the quarrel pitting the Ancients against the Modems, the protest movement quite naturally sided with the Modems, ensuring their victory. Those who aspired to power came out from the shadows to take their places in a splintered Sorbonne. The university modernized and structuralism triumphed thanks to May's quickening of history. Wasn't this the supreme paradox of an antihistorical paradigm? The contradiction led to polemical debates reminiscent of the surrealists, such as the one that took place on February 22, 1969. At a lecture by Michel Foucault to the French Philosophical Society, Lucien Gold-mann apostrophied jacques Lacan: "You saw your structures in '68.... Those were people who were in the streets!" And Lacan retorted, "If the events of May demonstrated anything at all, they showed that it was precisely that structures had taken to the streets!"! Rene Lourau was in the audience. "We were terrorized by Lacan's nerve. I brought Lucien Goldmann home by car. He was like a stunned boxer."2

If structures did not take to the streets, they did occupy massive

I22 numbers of new university chairs, which also meant more T.A. sections and fewer hours in lecture halls. The fact that May '68 and structuralism made a common protest against the position of the classical humanities and traditional disciplines like philosophy, history, literature, and psychology made the proclamations of the death of structuralism somewhat premature. "I was wrong to announce the death of structuralism. It was never stronger than after May '68."3

The protest against hierarchized disciplines, which corresponded to a revolt against authority, struck with full force against the discipline that considered itself the queen of the sciences. Philosophy was sent packing, an obsolete discipline forced to bow before the more serious work being done in anthropology, psychoanalysis, and linguistics. "I remember Tresmontant, a philosopher who worked on Teilhard de Chardin, as he was crossing the Luxembourg Garden after a meeting of philosophers at the Sorbonne in May. The agenda included asking whether or not it was permissible to ask oneself the question of knowing whether there were philosophical problems."4 The social sciences had not yet been fully emancipated because of the immobility of a Bonapartist, centralized state and a hermetic and traditional Sorbonne. "A verbose revolution attacked the talkativeness of philosophers and legitimated itself by donning the virtues of the concept."!

The lines of division, however, were muddier since the structuralist philosophers had prepared for this advent of the social sciences by familiarizing themselves with their conceptual contribution, not because they wanted to align themselves with their modes of classification, but because they wanted to renew and enrich philosophy. Thus, "we bet on epistemological reason, we valorized the weapons of rationality, and at the same time we undertook the modernization and dialectization of the rationality that expresses it."6 The philosopher's point of view was finally maintained in a contradictory tension based on which philosophical goals were beginning to be denied. New goals were described in terms of rigor, theory, and an epistemic base-so many conditions for including the philosophical effort in the New Deal redistributing knowledge instituted within the university. In the course of this reorganization, the philosopher was to devote himself to a specific and rigorously defined field of study, as did linguists and anthropologists. This intellectual division of labor made Sartre's image of the philosopher-man of letters definitively archaic; his apparent re-venge in 1968 did not fundamentally change the situation in philosophy, which had been favorable to structuralism since the sixties.

For the apprentice philosophers of the period, May '68 in no way meant the extinction of structural thinking. Quite to the contrary. Roger-Pol Droit, who was in khâgne in 1968-69 at Louis-le-Grand High School, "had learned to think-at least he thought so-with Marx via Althusser. He learned to spendlunthink with Freud via Lacan."? Beyond the Althussero-Lacanian Maoist, there was no hope for a hip philosopher in 1969. Structuralism reigned, and not to be a part of it was to stop being. High theory was combined with verbal terrorism of the French variety. "Conceptual grids held front stage. Structuralism climbed as if everything that had gone before were already rotting in the trash bins of history. Not to be an Althussero-Lacanian was to be an Untermensch, less than a man. Not to be a La-canian was to expose oneself to being little more than a little nothing."!

The Founders of Discursivity

Although May '68 did reintroduce the subject, it reconfirmed the death of the author-a battle the structuralists had been waging for a while-when it targeted the university mandarins and their psychological pathos, which, according to the protesters of May, belonged to the ideological realm, the worst of infamies. Here, there may have been a correspondence between structuralism and the mind-set of May, which Michel Foucault quite clearly understood. Foucault's oeuvre constantly referred to the effacement of the author's name. "What is an author?" he asked during the lecture given to the French Philosophical Society on February 22, 1969. He belonged to the strict structuralist orthodoxy in this, and was even self-critical on the use of authors' names in The Order of Things. "We must create a space where the writing subject does not stop disappearing."? Once again, the theme of an intertextuality that should not stop at the final signified of a proper name appeared. In an admirable rhetorical reversal, Foucault revisited the secular formula that saw writing as a means of gaining immortality and transformed it into a sacrificial act by its ability to kill its author. "The mark of the writer is no longer only the singularity of his absence; he must play the role of the dead man in the game of writing." 10

Michel Foucault relativized the Western fetish of the name of the literary author. Before the seventeenth century, literary discourse did not valorize this idea, whereas scientific discoveries bore the seal of their authors. Since then, "literary anonymity has become unbear-able."ll Foucault did, however, discern the existence not of authors, but of founders of discursivity: Marx and Freud "established an indefinite possibility of discourse." 12 These discursive foundations implied the legitimacy of a movement of return and opened the door to an approach to discursive formations that was more historical than ever, and that sought the very modalities of their existence. To a certain extent, Foucault announced the perception of a subject, not an originary subject, but the points of insertion and dependence as well as the conditions of its appearance. We can understand how Foucault echoed the famous "returns" of structuralism: the linguists' return to Saussure, Althusser's return to Marx, and Lacan's return to Freud. Lacan was in fact in the audience during this lecture and it had a real impact on him in developing his theory of four discourses. He joined the discussion and answered: "I have taken this return to Freud to be something of a flag, in a certain field, and here, I can only thank you for having completely met my expectations."13 This was the first time that Lacan had had any philosophical confirmation of his approach in his return to Freud. He used Foucault's position about how the idea of the author functioned and was functional, and took up the offensive again in his effort to redefine the division of knowledge with respect to philosophy.

Jean Allouch observed the chronology of Foucault's talk and Lacan's construction of the four discourses. In the seminar immediately following Foucault's remarks, Lacan repeated, and this time before his own public, that he had felt himself summoned by the importance granted this "return to."14 Another event also fed Lacan's interest in discursivity. On June 26, 1969, he publicized the letter he had received three months earlier from Tobert Flaceliere, the director of the ENS, terminating his use of Dussane Hall where his famous seminar where everyone who was anyone in Paris had congregated. Again Lacan was banished from an institution, the university this time, and from a special public of philosophers. His first reaction was caustic. During the final lecture of his seminar on June 26, 1969 ("From One Other to Another"), he tagged Flaceliere as Flatulenciere, Cordeliere, "don't pull too hard on the flaceliere." The seminar auditors decided to occupy the office of the director. Jean-Jacques Lebel, Antoinette Fouque, Laurence Bataille, Philippe Sollers, and Julia Kris-teva, among others, were thrown out by the police after a two-hour sit-in.t"

Lacan the pariah was finally able to take refuge in a lecture hall quite close by in the Law School. It was large but less prestigious than the hall at the ENS and Lacan's sense of isolation, aggravated by the impression that Derrida and Althusser did not really come to his defense to force Flaceliere to change his mind, comforted him in the idea of a new and necessary assault, theoretical once again, against university discourse and philosophical pretensions. In this, he was in tune with the children of May '68. At the first meeting of his seminar at the Law School on November 26, 1969, Lacan mentioned for the first time the "discourse" in the sense of what later became his doctrine of the four discourses. He defined the existence of a university discourse that was close to the "discourse of the master and the hysteric."16 Compared with these three discourses-academic, master, hysteric-the analytic discourse was the only one that was not neurotic and that could reach some truth, which legitimated its primacy. Lacan wanted to claim the superiority of psychoanalytic discourse, and his grandiose ambition clearly reflected the difficulties Lacanian psychoanalysis had in establishing and institutionalizing itself. His audience steadily grew as his power dwindled. This protest translated the state of mind of the students of 1968 quite well. "For me, it was a movement against the university. We hit on professors whom we found idiotic in the name of another knowledge. "17

The Althussero-Lacanian Vogue

Foucault also tried to link his positions to those of the fashionable Althussero-Lacanians during this period. He legitimated the "returns to," symptomatic of the structural approach, but gave the first fruit of the work he finished during the summer of 1968 to Les Cahiers pour l'analyse. His "Response to the Epistemological Circle" prefigured The Archaeology of Knowledge, which was about to come out. 18 Foucault took up the challenge of May '68 and shifted the problem of the principal anchors of epistemology toward the articulation of the discursive sphere with the practices that anchored it. He provided the Althusserians with a vast area in which to do their research in order to stop theorizing and move philosophical work toward politics and the study of how power is inscribed.

This theory/practice articulation sometimes produced surprising results. Alain Badiou, a former existentialist who, in 1967, rallied to Althusser's positions, felt in 1969 that the class struggle in theory included protesting the philosophy agrégation, and he tried to dissuade students who were studying for it not to take the exam. "He was a case, doubtless the most brilliant person I knew, extraordinarily talented, a real understanding of logic, math, and at the same time a perverted discourse that went off the tracks somewhere,"19 according to Jacques Bouveresse, who saw how certain of the ideas being promoted at the time more broadly expressed what Wittgenstein had analyzed in terms of pathology. It was only in the aftermath that a few people asked, "How could we have been crazy like that? Be a structuralist and be for the proletarian cultural revolution?"20 But these internal tensions did not feel like contradictions at the time; on the contrary, they made it possible for structural Althusserianism to take off after May'68.

Similarly, there was an enormous contradiction in attacking the idols and the notion of the author, which all structuralists from all disciplines rejected, while continuing to laud the theoreticians of this burial as heroes. Structuralists compensated for their institutional homelessness this way and gave more and more lectures to audiences who perceived them increasingly as master thinkers and models of existence, as gurus. They became veritable stars, authentic authors giving voice to the intellectual concerns of the period for which they could speak, whereas the established mandarins were hotly contested. From mandarins to samurai, the cult of personality and the magical aura surrounding them never really faded; they simply had a tragic dimension that the existentialist generation had not had.

The tragedy stemmed from the exhaustion of the intellectual model born in the eighteenth century with Voltaire and revived by the Dreyfus Affair in the nineteenth century, a model that was based on the coincidence between the intellectual's involvement and historical necessity against the forces of irrationality, power, and money. For the structuralist generation, the experience of Stalinism put an end to this equation, and this shed some light on the radical pessimism underlying structuralist thinking, even at its most militant. The result was a strange mixture of hedonism, of a freeing of the forces of desire, which reconciled themselves with the most pessimistic current of European thinking in the early twentieth century. "It should have been like mixing water with fire. "21

This tension most often became apparent in an act of abjuration, which facilitated the rise of structuralism. Many placed their old faith in the Subject-Stalin, their illusions in the construction of the model of models, hoping to break with their own position as lesson-givers by immersing themselves in structures, and at the same time science offered an escape. "There was a whole masochistic side of self-punishment in this attitude: I got trapped; my intellectual responsibility was therefore to denounce the trap and myself. "22 Pierre Daix, for example, converted to structuralism after 1968 and published a book glorifying the birth of structural science in 1971. "For structural research, there was a movement of human societies, which surround us and go beyond us, and whose meaning is to be sought beyond our immediate representation and experience. "23

A Thirst for Science

One of the essential aspects of the continuity between May '68 and structuralism was the scientific exigency of the heirs of May. Some made it seem that this was a revolution of dunces, but the leaders of the movement were at the apex of culture, dissatisfied with the knowledge being transmitted, and aspiring to change radically not only what was taught, but how it was taught. The conversion to the structural paradigm and its scientism was total in this respect, even if some exaggerated things in the name of science in order to disrupt the classes of those structuralists whom they found to be still too ideological and limited to reproducing a magisterial relationship to knowledge. Alongside the movement's hedonism was thus the whole dimension of this desire for scientific rigor, which ensured a happy future for post-'68 structuralism.

In addition to the internal university conflicts, there were the reactions of ENS intellectuals and literature professors in the university to the technocratization that was tending to relegate them to a secondary role, after the engineers and ENA graduates. The literary thirst for sci-entificity thus had something of the energy of despair faced with this onslaught of the technocrats. "1 was struck by the wave of rationalism that drove masses of students into courses on logic in the aftermath of '68."24 Epistemology and the theory of science were the only subjects that attracted students, which was all the more surprising in that this was a particularly hermetic field. For its part, linguistics was massively recognized as a scientific discipline, so "the title of grammarian, which had little symbolic value, could be exchanged for the title of linguist,'^ thanks to the movement of May 1968 and to structuralism writ large.

Right after May '68, the scientistic flame reached its most paroxysmal heights and semiotics, the most formal branch of linguistics, became a fundamental vector. In 1969, the international journal Semiot-ica was created, published in Bloomington and edited by Thomas A. Sebeok. It had a Paris office headed by Josette Rey-Debove and Julia Kristeva. Linguistics continued its course, federating the human sciences like a pilot science dispensing models to other disciplines. This was enough to justify-although that was not its authors' intention-Seuil's 1972 publication of a Dictionary of the Sciences of Language by Oswald Ducrot and Tzvetan Todorov. A general need for rigor comforted the number and strength of the interdisciplinary connections and ensured the success of interdisciplinarity, organized around a specific model, which became more appealing as a result.

Thus, juan-David Nasio, an Argentine Kleinian psychoanalyst, converted to Lacanian thought in 1969, and worked on the Spanish translation of Lacan's Ecrits. He met Lacan often during this period and adopted his ideas, based on Althusserian positions. 'I was a Marxist-Leninist, a political militant. After reading Althusser, I wanted to criticize Melanie Klein. "26 Making the teaching of the social sciences more democratic and socially oriented, given their large presence and ideological bent, also ensured the success of the structuralist paradigm, which served to guarantee the scientificity requisite for becoming part of the university world and being able to impose successful changes in scholarly journals, the media, and the intellectual public, and become a well-anchored institutional presence.

The new architecture of knowledge thus presupposed this collective taste for science. The young generation graduating from high school and going to the preparatory classes and universities just after May '68 needed a certain dose of rigor in their training. Marc Abeles, who later became an anthropologist trained by Levi-Strauss, found that Maurice Godelier imposed a scientific approach that satisfied his need for rigor, which also had a necessary political aspect to it given his disappointment in the period's political figures and forces. "We said to ourselves: they are worthless, and perhaps what lay behind the rigor of these theoretical works was the need to react to political life-lessness by starting from a hard theoretical core."27

There were also those who felt the need to desert the well-trodden paths of traditional, albeit renewed, knowledge in order to embark on a scientific adventure in new fields. Marc Vernet, a modern literature student who joined the ENSET28 in 1968-69, was one example: "I loved the cinema and I began to read Christian Metz. I elected scientificity and said to myself that semiology was going to explain everything. I seized the opportunity. "29 Vernet never finished at the ENSET despite the excellent teachers-Pierre Kuentz, Antoine Culioli-who kept students up on the research in linguistics while preparing them for the competitive exams. "I said to myself: literature is completely out of date .... I had the impression of being on a wave that was going to engulf everything."30 Vernet switched to the EPHE to do a thesis with Christian Metz on the topic "Suspended Meaning in American Detective Films of the Forties," a thesis that led him to discover a whole field of structuralist research in a number of disciplines. When Vernet decided to work on cinematic semiology, he had not yet discovered Levi-Strauss. Daniel Percheron, a friend of his, suggested that he read Levi-Strauss, which he did with great interest, although it had no impact initially on his own work-until he asked himselfwhat a character was, which, from a structural point of view, was generally contrasted with the narrator. Vernet got hooked when he read Levi-Strauss's text "Structure and Form," in which Vladimir Propp was criticized for treating characters on the basis of their attributes rather than their functions. "What fascinated me was Levi-Strauss's capacity to reduce plural groups of texts to structures."31 This approach made it possible to scientifically understand his purely intuitive impression that all films made in the United States during the forties resembled each other. Of course Marc Vernet's theoretical perspective included the work of linguists. Beginning with his problematizing of the position of the character in cinematographic storytelling, he discovered the work Philippe Hamon had already begun on the character in literature." In the toolbox of cinematic semiology, Lacan was also to be reckoned with, all the more so in that during these years of the seventies, the work of the master, Christian Metz, had turned toward the relationship between cinema and psychoanalysis. So Vernet read everything Lacan had written, and found his article "On the Look as small object a"33 particularly interesting "because the issue was vision, fetishization, and voyeurism. "34 After May '68, many research projects were thus fueled by a concern for scientific rigor, and this ensured structuralism's success.

Bandaging the Wounds of Failure

Another dimension also made it possible to understand the excitement and taste for analytic discourse, the form of "psychoanalysm"-as Robert Caste! critically termed it-which was fashionable during the post-'68 period and which guaranteed Lacan a growing audience. It is true that Lacan was booed by the movement, particularly when he came to Vincennes campus, but the protest he provoked was something like what de Gaulle elicited. Lacan incarnated the father whose bour-geoisification was being decried, but he was also the alternative paternal figure. When things returned to their normal course, it was Lacan who could bind the wounds of failure and the lost illusions of a complete break with the previous world. If the world could not be changed, the self could be. There were many who, like Roland Castro, formerly of the March 22 Movement, took their place on Lacan's couch in order to understand the inherent difficulties of transgressing the Law and the illusions of the revolution (returning to the same point, etymologically speaking). "Those who began an analysis after '68 experienced it like a life preserver at a time when Maoism was declining; they included Roland Castro, Catherine Clement, jacques-Alain Miller ... "35

Structure triumphed over the events in the calm following the storm. The failure was perceived as the expression of the inexpunge-able force of structure; the structuralism option was thus doubly reinforced by the explosion of May and its "failure," at the very least as a general and radical break. Lacan embodied an alternative, gave a sign at the moment of the impossible revolution. And in May I970, he was able to resist the pressure of troops of the Proletarian Left when, in need of money for their treasury which was overseen by Roland Castro, they sent a delegation that spent four hours remonstrating in vain with Lacan in his office, only to hear Lacan retort, "Why should I give you my money? I am the revolution!"36

Ultrastructuralism Triumphs

May '68 had contradictory effects on structuralism. Old and new were mixed up, scientistic rationalism and antirationalism linked, even in the minds of the same authors. In any case, May had its theoretical effects; it triggered neither structuralism's triumph nor its extinction but shifted the boundaries and speeded up the changes that had been going on since I966-67.

Above all, ultrastructuralism was encouraged-essentially a structuralist orientation but turned toward multiplication, toward indeterminate, "nomadic" concepts, which became the dominant categories of thought during the following period. Everything that harassed structuralism from within before 1968 and that ensured that there be a beyond-generativism, theories of enunciation, intertextuality, the critique of logocentrism-triumphed thanks to May '68 and speeded the process that Manfred Frank called "neostructuralism."37

All of these totalizing categories were deconstructed and systematically pluralized. The idea of causality was called into question and replaced by the notion of periphery and relational patterns with multiple ramifications, without any organizing center. Structuralism of the first period had already attacked the notion of causality and privileged relational thinking. Ultrastructuralism emphasized this break, pursuing and inflecting it increasingly in the direction of desire rather than the norm, of the many rather than the One, of the signifier rather than the signified, of the Other rather than the Same, of difference rather than the Universal.

More than anything else, May '68 exploded the notion of a hermetic structure. The lock was picked and the point became a knot. "The structure of neostructuralism no longer knows assignable limits. It is open and can be infinitely transformed."38 This opening or multiplication was particularly palpable in its historicization, not a return to any particular meaning of history or a philosophy of history, but a historicization in the sense of a Nietszchean-Heideggerian deconstruction. Structuralism took its revenge on history by deconstructing it.

In the longer term, all the internal unrest of structuralism, which 1968 helped bring to the fore, represented so many destabilizing forces of the structural paradigm and inevitably condemned structuralism to a decline in the seventies. Generativism, enunciation theory, inter-textuality, and deconstruction at once ensured the necessary adaptation of structuralism and its dissolution, it own erasure.

Another-and more structural-element paradoxically worked in the same direction: the structuralists enjoyed an institutional triumph and, from 1968 on, were represented in force within the university.


Institutional Victory: The University Conquered

Until 1968, structuralists had been largely marginal. Student protests in May, a more modern university, and the Sorbonne's fragmentation, however, allowed them to break into the university world, and they entered in full force. The conquest of the capital and the numbers of chairs created for young professors as well as the creation of many departments devoted to structuralized knowledge confirmed this victory.

Theoretically, the consequences of '68 were ambiguous; institutionally, they were clear. Structuralism was the big beneficiary of the protest movement. For want of progressive reform, a "revolution" defeated the resistance at the Sorbonne. The most spectacular effect quite obviously was the creation of departments of general linguistics, for, until this point, linguists played only ancillary roles in language departments, where linguistics courses belonged to the curriculum of foreign languages and French grammar.

Just after May '68, the education ministry created a commission to define a new literature curriculum consisting of forty-eight class hours. Ten or so professors, including Jean Dubois, Andre Martinet, and Algirdas Julien Greimas, made up the commission. Andre Martinet wanted to offer general linguistics courses, although Jean Dubois was more partial to French linguistics courses: "I was seated next to the secretary who was writing the report, and things were rather confused. Proposals were written on the blackboard. . . . The secretary asked me what the issue was and 1 said, 'French linguistics.' That was

how it went off to the ministry and was accepted."1 At the Sorbonne, helped by May '68, Andre Martinet got more full-time staff and young assistants, who, like Louis-Jean Calvet, were appointed as of 1969.

Taking Power at Nanterre

Jean Dubois and Bernard Pottier were already at Nanterre when a department of linguistics was created, violently. "In '68 at Nanterre, together with my assistants, we split from the professors of literature, manu militari. We threw them out of the office, but they fought back. "2 Thanks to the events of May, young teachers could embark on careers and advance far more quickly than they might have otherwise. Recruitment needs produced a spectacular young corps of teachers and opened up real perspectives for modern work. The linguist Claudine Normand was a high-school teacher in 1968. After May, Louis Guilbert offered her a teaching job at the University of Rouen, and gave her twenty-four hours to consider his offer. "The following year, as of October 1969, I was at Nanterre."3 The linguistics department was receptive to all approaches to linguistics. Jean Dubois, who had never been sectarian, did not limit recruitment to PCF members, although they were well represented in the department. Above all, the department was enormous; in 1969, there were already twenty-two tenured professors (and later, twenty-seven).

The orientation was very sociolinguistic, with a particular partiality toward discourse analysis and lexicology. Jean Dubois, Jean-Baptiste Marcellesi, Denise Maldidier, and Francoise Gadet's work established the bases for interdisciplinary research and group research with some of the historians at Nanterre, including Regine Robin and Antoine Prost. Lexicology research was somewhat critical of the dominant ideology, but the goal was both theoretical and political. In line with structuralism, these linguists generally sought to link language and society, a link missing in Saussure's work, by establishing a double levelof causal relationships. Essentially influenced by Harris's distributional method, but also by the more French tradition of lexicology, they examined the ideology embodied in historical and political discourse. Jean-Baptiste Marcellesi's thesis, The Congress of Tours.' comparing the discourse of the majority favoring the twenty-one conditions of the Communist International with that of the minority, which, along with Leon Blum, wanted to maintain the old positions, became the model for a number of case studies. Marcellesi concluded that in 1920 no clear sociolinguistic distinction existed between the two camps beyond the content of their discourses.

In April 1968, a month before the strikes of May, a lexicology colloquium had been held at Saint-Cloud during which Annie Kriegel had analyzed the "unified" vocabulary of the Communists during the Popular Front. Denise Maldidier had carefully analyzed six daily newspapers and studied the political vocabulary used during the Algerian War. Antoine Prost compared the vocabulary of political families in France at the end of the nineteenth century, during the 1881 elections. This kind of lexicological work continued to develop at Nanterre after May '68, and in 1971, the February issue of Langue [rancaise came out, devoted to the theme "Linguistics and Society,"5 and in September, issue 23 of Langages was devoted to the topic "Political Discourse."6

The distinctions between content, message (énoncé), and utterance, or the elements belonging to the language code and on which meaning depends, could be examined. Jean Dubois and Uriel Wein-reich defined these, using four different concepts: the distance between the subject and the utterance; the modalization, or the way the speaker marks his or her message; the tension between speaker and listener; and the transparency or opacity of the discourse. Using these concepts, Lucile Courdesses compared the discourses of Leon Blum and Maurice Thorez in May 1936,7 and discerned a clearly opposed, distant, didactic discourse in which the utterance was barely inflected (Maurice Thorez speaking in the name of a homogeneous group of Communists without any individual moods) and Leon Blum's discourse, which referred to the actors and where the extreme tension had a specific political goal. The historian Regine Robin and the linguist Denis Slatka studied the 1789 cahiers de doleances in which "citizens" enumerated their plaints." On the other hand, social history-s-Regine Robin's thesis on the land-leasing system of Semur-en-Auxois-e-joined hands with linguistics, and, on the other hand, pragmatics entered into the work of linguistics since Denis Slatka worked on the illocu-tionary potential of the act of asking." Francoise Gadet examined the social variations of language!''

These discourse analyses were not only lexical studies on the numbers of times that different words were used, but also tried to establish a relationship between behavior and its verbal expression. Denise Maldidier looked at this dimension in her analysis of political

discourse during the Algerian War.11 Structuralism could, in this way, be adapted to a growing political consciousness during the seventies, and sometimes produced results. Antoine Prost analyzed the declarations of candidates to the elections in the 1880s and concluded that those on the left spoke like those on the right when addressing conservative areas, and even occasionally left-wing areas.P But the conclusions of lexicological studies were too often disappointing. Long qualitative and quantitative analyses often only confirmed the researcher's initial intuitions,

A Fragmented Sorbonne

Structural linguistics also made its way into the interdisciplinary and scientific University of Paris VII-Jussieu, created in 1970. Most of the literature professors battling with the Sorbonne mandarins who were not at Vincennes came to teach at Paris VII, replacing Lansonian criticism with a structuralist orientation. Thirty-year-old assistant professors, for the most part, but also some specialists like Antoine Culioli, chose this university to create a linguistics department.

Paris VII's interdisciplinarity was clear in the Department of History, Geography, and Social Sciences. "Was this because of structuralism? Yes, because what seduced so many people in structuralism and in Levi-Strauss's work was this fabulous possibility of going from the Bambara to Chomsky, to mathematics, and to ethnology."13 Some wanted to make disciplinary boundaries so porous that different specialists could teach a single course that would include, for example, sociologists like Pierre Ansart or Henri Moniot alongside historians like Michelle Perrot and Jean Chesneaux. Not that this team planned to adopt the structuralist theoretical orientations except insofar as they could get beyond traditional disciplinary divisions.

Moreover, and in a more purely Parisian fashion, May '68 helped psychoanalysis to establish itself in the university alongside other social sciences. Until this point, psychoanalysis had been taught in divisions of letters, under the cover of psychology, along the lines laid out by Daniel Lagache, whose chair in psychology had been created for him at the Sorbonne in 1955.14 Beyond the quarrels among different schools, this change came about thanks to the active participation of Lacanians in the structuralism of the sixties, alongside literature professors, anthropologists, and philosophers. Other mavericks such as Didier Anzieu at Nanterre and Juliette Favez-Boutonier at Censier, who had created a Clinical Psychology Laboratory there in 1966, did make some inroads, but psychoanalysis remained highly precarious since there was no autonomous curriculum. "Either the clinic is psychological and should disappear, or it is medical and should be attached to medicine."15 Favez-Boutonier did manage to create an enclave by attracting four assistants-Claude Prevost, jacques Gagey, Pierre Fedida, and Anne-Marie Rocheblave. She had begun to enroll students despite the lack of official recognition of this area of clinical psychology. Thanks to May '68, and to this initial kernel and one other group, a division of Clinical Social Sciences took shape at Cen-sier, Paris VII.

Other projects included an "experimental university" based on mathematics and social sciences proposed by linguist Antoine Culioli and psychoanalyst Jean Laplanche. "The idea was a return to basic

sciences.... Rather than try to find space in psychology, we were

looking for an experimental university."16 But this project never got off the ground and Jean Laplanche became a member of the Division of Clinical Social Sciences, which quickly attracted hundreds of students. In 1969-70, he created a Laboratory for Psychoanalysis and Psychopathology, exclusively oriented around Freud's work.

This breakthrough at a literary university-Censier-was only possible because Lacanian psychoanalysis had been demedicalized and had points in common with linguistics. May made this institutional shift possible: the department of psychoanalysis at Vincennes offered concrete and spectacular proof of this.

Conquering the College de France and America The other sign of structuralism's institutionalization was Michel Fou-cault's nomination to the College de France at the end of 1969, which was a victory over Paul Ricoeur. Foucault's candidacy dated back to The Order of Things and was energetically presented by Jean Hyppo-lite, who began to organize Foucault's supporters, including Georges Dumezil, Jean Vuillemin, and Fernand Braudel. But Hyppolite's death on October 27,1968 set the project back until it was taken up by Jean Vuillernin, since an empty chair in philosophy needed to be filled!? Three candidates were presented: Paul Ricoeur, Yvon Belaval, and Michel Foucault, who proposed to call his eventual slot the chair of the History of Systems of Thought, for which he presented a program of study. "Between the sciences that are already established (and whose

history has been written) and the phenomena of opinion (which historians know how to deal with), someone must undertake to write the history of systems of thought" in order to "raise the question of knowledge, its conditions, and the status of the knowing subject." is

In addition to this project, the professor at the College de France could choose a chair in the philosophy of action intended for Paul Ricoeur, or one in the history of rational thought, intended for Yvon Belaval. Of the 46 voting members, Foucault's project won the second round with 25 votes against 10 for Ricoeur and 9 for Belaval.!? On December 2, 1970, the heretical Foucault made his entry into this canonical institution with its intangible ritual, still smelling of the tear gas that had exploded on the Vincennes campus-an incongruous entry that can only be understood by situating Foucault's work within the structuralist movement; it allowed him to join ranks with Georges Durnezil and Claude Levi-Strauss as a legitimate and consecrated structuralist thinker.

A few years later, in fact, in 1975, the banquet of the four musketeers, minus Jacques Lacan, could be held at the College de France, when Roland Barthes joined Foucault, thanks to him, in the supreme consecration of his election to the venerable College. Foucault defended Barthes's candidacy, for his too-great worldliness gave some pause. "Don't you believe that those voices, those few voices whom we hear and listen to today just beyond the walls of the university, belong to our history and should be included here?"20 Michel Foucault carried the day and Roland Barthes joined him, Claude Levi-Strauss, Georges Dumézil, Emile Benveniste, and shortly thereafter, Pierre Bourdieu. The College de France consecrated structuralism at that point as an intense and productive moment in French thought.

Seen from the other side of the Atlantic, these successes of the late sixties were fascinating. Bertrand Augst, a very francophilic professor in the French department at the University of California at Berkeley, wanted Americans to be able to take advantage of this intellectual energy and created a student center in the heart of Paris, at the Odeon, for training American students interested in film theory, who would come to Paris for a year of study. At the beginning of the seventies, this center enrolled approximately thirty American students from the University of California system, and then from other American universities, in courses that introduced them to structural semiology. Initially specializing in cinema semiology, the Odeon center diversified its courses to include all the social sciences. Michel Marie, from the film department at Paris Ill, served as the Paris intermediary for these students, who later became the ambassadors to the United States for French structuralism.

In America, and particularly in California, Foucault's work was widely read. Derrida had already conquered the New World with his paper at the 1966 seminar at Johns Hopkins University, "Structure, Sign, and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences." His work was sufficiently well known to warrant an annual seminar at Yale University, from 1973 onward, which was extremely well attended.

The Perversity of Success

As structuralism made its way into institutions, its media conquest continued as well, particularly when Roger-Pol Droit became responsible for the social sciences column in the book review section of Le Monde in 1972. An Althussero-Lacanian, Droit was attracted to increasingly diversified structuralism. "I arrived at a moment when structuralism reigned in all its glory."21 Droit resigned in 1977, when the structuralist wave was on the wane, but returned to Le Monde at the end of the eighties. "That all ended around 1975 in the clericature and the caricature of a world that had waned. "22

According to Alain Touraine, one of the unpleasant consequences of structuralism's post-'68 institutional weight was to gut the protests of their social content and experience by emphasizing the break between the society and the university. "While the '68-discourse took hold in the university, its social reality was eliminated and took root elsewhere, among women, immigrant workers, and homosexuals. They changed society."23 Eliminating lived experience closely corresponded with structuralist principles, which invited an epistemological, theoretical, and scientific break with its object in order to theorize events, whence the serious hermeticism of the academic world after it failed to connect with the social world.

But structuralism did have some social victories to its credit, particularly psychoanalytic structuralism, as the Freudian psychoanalyst Gerard Mendel emphasized. "Lacan's success occurred at a time when a whole intellectual proletariat (social workers of different sorts) existed for whom the noble path of psychoanalysis had been closed."24 Lacan's orientation allowed analysts to work outside a medical world, and let new social classes leap into the breach thanks to more numerous medical-pedagogical institutions. So psychoanalysis became more broadly socialized thanks partly to 1968.

But as it became institutionalized in universities and other august sites of scholarly travail thanks to the protests of 1968, structuralism also became increasing banal, losing its hard critical edge. Behind the triumph, therefore, we can espy the signs of future disintegration when no common battle was waged against a specific and obvious adversary and each discipline adopted a new and specific logic. Institutional triumph closed the militant phase and opened the period of dissolution and disintegration. The flamboyant history of the University of Vincennes is the best witness to these changes.



The Structuralist University

In the Bois de Vincennes to the east of Paris, next to a military shooting range, the minister of defense leased an area to the city of Paris, for a limited time, to open an experimental university beginning in fall 1968. This new university, Paris VIII, was to be the anti-Sorbonne, a veritable essence of modernity destined to open up new and original directions for research. The University of Vincennes swore fealty to interdisciplinarity and initially rejected traditional curriculum for preparing students for the national competitive exams leading to teaching jobs in favor of permitting an expansion of research. With few exceptions, lecture courses were proscribed; the Word was to circulate among small groups working in small classrooms. Academicism and the Sorbonne tradition were left outside the gates of a university that aspired to be resolutely contemporary, modern, and open to the most sophisticated technologies and scientific methods in the social sciences in order to ensure the renewal of the traditional humanities. Since modernization was identified with structuralism, Vincennes was structuralist, completely. It even symbolized the institutional triumph of structuralism, which left behind its marginal status and here made its entrance with head high through the portals of a Parisian university.

Vincennes was a fabulous campus, a real jewel in the crown of a tired Gaullist regime indulging in a plaything that was also a showcase. Wall-to-wall carpeting, a centrally controlled television hookup in every classroom, designer furniture everywhere, and all of this set in a natural, verdant environment blissfully free from urban noise. Only the occasional sounds of distant shots from the army shooting range broke the otherwise natural silence.

This verdant, isolated campus became the refuge for the most pugnacious of the May activists. Many Maoists were there, who, missing the red guards, tended to view this microcosm as the center of the world, or limited their world to the university campus. The lively forces of protest of May '68 met here, trapped within this confined and padded universe where agitation could flourish freely at a healthy remove from society. Distances would mute the effects of student protest between the campus and the heart of Paris. Indeed, the government was all too happy to have circumscribed the sickness in a forest, which also served as a cordon sanitaire. An entire generation passed through these gates and sharpened its critical weapons.

Despite its initial plan to build a showcase university, the government let Vincennes suffocate. Inadequately funded, it limped along, nearly bankrupt. Insufficient operating funds, daily breakdowns, and overcrowding angered students, who bashed ceilings in search of planted police microphones.1 Vincennes quickly became a no-man's-land, although it was still shot through with a desire to pursue the experiment, with everyone jealously guarding the freedom, the quality of discussions and exchanges, and this liberated speech that remained a cherished and fundamental legacy of May. Behind the showcase window, the agitation of busy militants on the one hand, and the patent hedonism of the others, the research projects, and daily efforts to achieve a modernity and scientificity that outstripped that of all other humanities campuses in France, had international repercussions. If Paris is not France, Vincennes nevertheless could be the world. Ultimately, the danger of this brazier was resolved by its demolition and reconstruction to the north of Paris, on the Saint-Denis plain, well beyond the city limits.

Harvard on the Seine?

Three perfectly bald-headed men took a certain pleasure in strolling together around the central fountain as the amazed students stared: the philosopher Michel Foucault, the linguist Jean-Claude Chevalier, and the literature professor Pierre Kuentz. With others, they incarnated the triumph of structuralism, the end of a long battle that had fulfilled an impossible dream: a literary university reconciled with science where structural thinking played a major role.

The minister of education, Edgar Faure, had contacted Jean Dubois to ask him to be the dean of Vincennes. Dubois had developed Nanterre, and at Larousse had promoted a structuralist publishing program in linguistics. A PCF member known for his fair-mindedness, Dubois agreed to set up a department of linguistics, but he was not interested in any other administrative responsibilities. "I thought about it for a week. Mission impossible. Above all, I was a man of order. I visited the sites, which were splendid, but from the very first, the chairs had already been moved by the truckloads."2 Raymond Las Vergnas, an anglicist and dean of the Sorbonne, took charge of organizing the new university. In October 1968, he invited a a commission of twenty well-known figures, including Roland Barthes, Jacques Derrida, jean-Pierre Vernant, Georges Canguilhem, and Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie, to discuss the orientation of the programs at Vincennes. A dozen of those present were quickly appointed to a central committee responsible for naming the academic staff.

There was a certain logic to these nominations and structuralists were given priority. Two members of the central committee represented the two branches of sociological structuralism: Jean-Claude Passeron, a Bourdieusian, and Robert Castel, a Foucauldian. When the sociologist Georges Lapassade met Robert Castel at a general meeting at the Sorbonne in November 1968, he indicated that he would like to teach at Vincennes and was told that the sociologists needed to maintain their epistemological coherence. "Later, Jean-Marie Vincent and Serge Mallet, both sociologists, also ran up against this sort of 'veto' in the same department."3

Michel Foucault was in charge of hiring the teaching staff for philosophy; jean-Pierre Richard was responsible in French literature; Jean Dubois, Jean-Claude Chevalier and Maurice Gross decided on the teaching staff in linguistics. The university included a department of psychoanalysis, which was a real first, headed by Serge Leclaire, second in command in the Lacanian organization.

The grand project was to make Vincennes a small MIT, an American university, a model of modernity, an internationally known enclave with overtly interdisciplinary ambitions. Reality was a far cry from the model. Limited budgets, especially the French attitude toward investing university faculty positions, far different from the

American approach, hamstrung the plans. "In American universities, professors are always available, they are in constant touch with their students, they have joint research programs and well worked-out administrative frameworks."4 Nothing comparable existed at Vincennes, even if professors spent more time there than they did elsewhere since meetingitis was the university's infantile disease. But the most active professors were especially represented in the general meetings and action committees, and ultimately, despite some efforts, the contacts between disciplines and among specialists were relatively limited. As for contact with students, who were listened to in their sections, which was already unusual, the cafeteria was the best place for conversation. "In a word, what remained of the American model at Vincennes? The salon quality, the many auditors, and people hanging around in the sections, but very few ties. We did not really adopt the American model." 5

This dilettantism was measurable by the numbers of students who came because they were unhappy with their home universities and were eager to embrace a perfect universe where they could go from department to department without any administrative obstacles.

After '68, I enrolled at Vincennes. The advantage was that we could take whatever courses we wanted. I took Ruwet's course for three months and then I left and took Deleuze's course, and Todorov's.... I stayed in literature where there were excellent professors like Pierre Kuentz, influenced by structuralism. It was a breath of fresh air. Deleuze's course was paradise. I was also going to courses in the psychoanalysis department. The dawn was breakinglf

For working students and others who had not passed the baccalauréat exam, Vincennes offered the more prosaic possibility of taking night classes, scheduled until ten in the evening. These students were the pride and joy of this unusual university, like the deliveryman who took advantage of his stops there to enroll in the history department, where he took courses and later passed the agrégation exam."

Although Vincennes generally adopted the American university model, the most militant faculty looked east, to Peking and to the Red Guards of the "Cultural Revolution," for its model. Maoists dominated ideology at Vincennes to such a degree that the Trotskyist cell of the Communist League, which included some of the great national voices (such as Henri Weber and Michel Recanati), mockingly called itself the "MaoTse-tung cell."

Generativism at Vincennes

The Americanization of Vincennes was particularly palpable in the linguistics department, where a marriage was forged between French linguists like Jean-Claude Chevalier and Jean Dubois and the American influence, represented by Nicolas Ruwet, who had been to MIT and was a staunch partisan of Chomsky's generative grammar, and Maurice Gross, a polytechnician who had planned to be a weapons engineer but who finally opted for linguistics after his return from MIT and his discovery of the possibilities of informatics. Gross was more of a Zellig Harris student than a Chomskyan, but the Vincennes linguistics department had a clear generative bent. Thanks particularly to Nicolas Ruwet who was obviously selected to join the staff, Chomsky's model held sway. Ruwet was just returning from MIT when Vincennes was taking off, and in the fall of 1968 he was promoted to the FNRS (National Scientific Research Foundation) in Belgium and could stabilize a career that until then had been precarious. One spring morning, while preparing to leave Paris to go to Belgium, he went to see Todorov at home. Just back from Yale, Todorov was also unhappy with the way things were going, and was surviving, precariously, on scholarships. The telephone rang. Derrida was calling, in his capacity as a member of the central committee of Vincennes, to ask Todorov if he would teach in this new university. He painted a glowing picture of the situation. Todorov answered that he was interested, and Derrida invited him to contact other competent potential teachers and come that afternoon to Helene Cixous's place, near the Place de la Contrescarpe in the Latin Quarter. Todorov and Ruwet went, and met Maurice Gross, who was also in a difficult institutional situation. A lately converted polytechnician, he had not studied literature, and had only a one-year renewable contract as an assistant lecturer associated with the university of Aix-en-Provence. Besides, since he was in conflict with Andre Martinet, he could not hope for a career in linguistics in France and was preparing to pack his bags for Texas. Cerard Genette was also there, mainly for his wife's sake. Jacques Derrida was the master of ceremonies and Helene Cixous spent an hour describing the plans for Vincennes. "We said to each other: We are in a nuthouse! It was so strange given what we knew of the university in general. We asked if a department of linguistics was possible at Vincennes and were told that that was obvious because linguistics was the driving force behind everything!"8

Jean Dubois then took matters in hand to set up the linguistics department, and Nicolas Ruwet became associate professor. Linguistics was initially funded for eleven full-time positions at Vincennes, "which was almost sad because there were not eleven linguists in France among those whom we would have wanted to have."9 The following year, the department got another position and Nicolas Ruwet invited a twenty-four-year old researcher whom he had met at MIT to come. The staff was free to define its curriculum. "We did generative grammar above all, either the Gross version or the Chomsky version; and with Chevalier, there was also the history of grammar."lO

Linguistics was at its zenith. Given how difficult and technical the discipline was, student enrollments were surprisingly high. "At the beginning, I had about a hundred students in my class."!' Those who were hungry for modernity saw generative grammar as the ultimate step in scientific innovation. This scientificity swayed the new generation of '68. Bernard Laks was in hypokhâgne at Lamartine High School in 1968-69 and his philosophy professor, Jean-Toussaint Desanti, introduced him to epistemology quite early on, and to the mathematical sciences. In literature, Lucette Finas was giving courses that were totally out of sync with her institution; she was uninterested in the national competitive exams and their centralized programs, and instead taught Todorov, Barthes, Foucault, and Bataille. After the February 1969 vacation, Lucette Finas spoke to her khagne students: "The world has changed and I'm leaving, I'm going to the only place that is interesting today: Vincennes. Those who like what I do should follow me. Things are dead here and I am going to a place where minds are alive."12 Bernard Laks followed Lucette Finas and arrived at Vincennes in the middle of the school year and undertook a triple degree in literature, linguistics, and informatics. "At the end of the year, I concentrated primarily on linguistics because that was where science was." 13

Fascination with a scientific approach and axiomatics went hand in hand with a Marxist commitment, because Marxism was seen as the science of political action. Sociolinguistics, one of the branches of the linguistics department at Vincennes, was spectacularly popular, growing by leaps and bounds in the wake of May '68. Pierre Encreve, who had been recruited by Maurice Gross to teach phonology and sociolinguistics, was the expert in this field. An assistant to Martinet, Encreve confided to Gross that he had quarreled with Martinet, which was sufficient grounds for being hired. "Gross said to him, 'I don't need to know whether or not you are a good phonologist, I'm hiring you, ... because Vincennes was to be a war machine against the Sorbonne, Censier, and Martinet."14

Sociolinguistics also used an American model based on Labov's work. Pierre Encreve did not see it as a subbranch of linguistics that, like the study of dialects or social covariances, had a limited field of study, but as a complete and independent discipline taking language as its object and variationist generativism as its paradigm. It was thus a different approach than that of most of the Nanterre faculty and of Marcellesi's social linguistics, as well as many other branches of a discipline that was at its height. In 1968 alone, more sociolinguistic works were published than in the seven preceding years. Bernard Laks counted no fewer than fourteen different sociolinguistic research projects. is

The department of letters was in theory less "scientific," and therefore devalued in the eyes of the linguists. Nonetheless, it fully participated in structuralist modernity under the direction of partisans of the new criticism who considered that literature could be studied using the structural paradigm and techniques drawn from linguistics. Many professors had been active at Strasbourg and Besancon during the mid-sixties; interdisciplinarity and modernity were the two linchpins of this new department where Henri Mitterand, Jean-Pierre Richard, Claude Duchet, Jean Levaillant, Pierre Kuentz, Jean Bellernin-Noel, and Lucette Finas, among others, taught. Taking care not to define literature along traditional lines, professors at Vincennes were particularly receptive to an interdisciplinary approach. Psychoanalysis and history, using two models of Freudian and Marxist analysis revisited by structuralism, were generally embraced by the department. "These studies were not in principle limited to French literature, or even to the expression 'literary.'"16

Foucault Establishes the Lacanian-Althusserian Mechanism

The biggest news, however, was without a doubt Michel Foucault's nomination as head of the philosophy department. Because he was responsible for staff appointments, Foucault had solicited his friend Gilles Deleuze, who was quite ill at the time and could only come to

Vincennes two years later. Michel Serres immediately agreed to join Foucault at Vincennes. In the fall of 1968, with Les Cahiers pour l'analyse serving as intermediary, Foucault went to the ENS on the rue d'Ulm with one specific goal: to recruit some Althussero-Lacanians for Vincennes. He convinced judith Miller, Lacan's daughter, Alain Badiou, jacques Ranciere, Francois Regnault, and jean-Francois Lyo-tard, among others. The tone was structural-Maoist, even if some of the others were not Maoists: Henri Weber was a member of the Communist League, and Etienne Balibar was an Althusserian, but also a PCF member. To ensure that things worked smoothly, Foucault invited Francois Chatelet, a recent convert to the structuralist cause.

In addition to his responsibilities in the philosophy department, Foucault got involved in creating the Experimental Center at Vincennes. Above all, he wanted to eliminate psychologists and recruit psychoanalysts who could create their own department and use the entire budget and fill all the slots. "He could not avoid having the PCF impose a psychology department, so that when the jobs were limited, they were shared in a philosophy/psychoanalysis department." 17 Although Foucault created the department, the idea had come from jacques Derrida. Serge Leclaire became the head, with Lacan's approval, but the fight had already broken out between Derrida and Lacan, preventing Lacan, the other structuralist superstar, from finally having a solid institutional footing by joining the faculty. "Since Foucault was heading up the philosophy department, it was normal that Lacan be head of the department of psychoanalysis, which Derrida opposed." 18

Lacan was not at Vincennes, but Lacanian thinking was. With it, psychoanalysis officially integrated the university of letters. All of the faculty were members of the École Freudienne de Paris (EFP), and there were no fewer than sixteen seminars on psychoanalysis given by Serge Leclaire, Michele Montrelay, Francois Baudry, Rene Tostain, jacques Nassif, jean Clavreul, Claude Rabant, Luce Irigaray, Claude Dumezil, Michel de Certeau, and jacques-Alain Miller, the husband of Lacan's daughter. The brains of Vincennes were there, and not only because this department was the most striking innovation of the period. The Proletarian Left reigned over the campus, and the Miller family held the reins in its hands: jacques-Alain Miller, his wife judith, who taught in philosophy, and his brother Gerard, who oversaw the political organization. Gerard Miller faced off against the vigorous competition of another Maoist movement, which the Communist League called Mao-spontex: the Committee for the Abolition of Salaried Work and the Dismissal of the University, led by Jean-Marc Salmon, an extremely talented orator who could filibuster for hours on end by enrapturing an entire lecture hall, and by Andre Glucks-mann, whose tactics for ridding the university of revisionists and as-similationists became increasingly terroristic.

This department of psychoanalysis wielded tremendous influence and became a permanent forum. Whether they were students or not, many came to visit for the pleasure of the show because every day brought something new. "There were memorable sessions. I remember a course-should I even call it a course?-that was rather pleasantly violent in a lecture hall in front of at least eight hundred people. Screams came from the four corners of the hall; I remember especially some particularly virulent remarks by Badiou."19 "We had seminars that horrified Jacques-Alain Miller and Gerard Miller, who came and found that things were not serious enough. We indulged in incoherent discussions before a very interesting nonanalyst audience, but which was very politicized and which had come to have it out with analysts. It amused and stimulated us."20

The high point came when Lacan, at the invitation of the philosophy department, held a meeting of his seminar in Lecture Hall 1 on December 3, 1969. Even the most refractory people on campus hurried to see him, delighted to have the chance to make fun of "the" Lacan. The confrontation was worthy of DaH:

]. Lacan (a dog walks on the stage): I will speak about my Egeria, who is of this sort. She is the only person I know who knows what she is speaking-I don't say what she is saying-not because she doesn't say anything, but she does not say it with words. She says something when she is anxious-which happens-she puts her head on my knees. She knows that I am going to die, which some other people also know. Her name is ]ustine ... Question: Hey, this is crazy. He's talking to us about his dog! J. Lacan: It's my dog, and she is beautiful and you would have heard her speak.... The only thing she's missing compared to the person who is walking is that she did not go to the universiry.s!

In fact, the master was no longer alone on the stage. A protester stood up and began to undress. Lacan encouraged him to go all the way. "Listen, man, I already saw that last night, I was at the Open Theater and there was a guy doing that, but he had more nerve than you, he was completely naked. Go on, go on already, keep going, shit."22

The audience demanded that the master give a Maoist critique of psychoanalysis, of university discourse, and of himself. But Lacan answered that revolutionary struggle could only lead to the discourse of the master: "What you aspire to, as revolutionaries, is a Master. You will have him.... You are playing the role of the zealots of this regime. You no longer know what that means? The regime will show you. It says: 'Look at them get off.' OK. There it is. Good-bye for today. Bye. It's over."23

The curtain would soon be drawn on the master because he became less and less able to tolerate Serge Leclaire's power and autonomy at Vincennes. LecIaire wanted an independent department of psychoanalysis, freed from the oversight of the philosophers, and which could give credits; he was then attacked from all quarters. Alain Badiou questioned him, and accused him of being an agent of the counterrevolution; the EFP disavowed him and its members came to campus to denounce the heresy. Lacan fed the fire, and urged that Leclaire be abandoned. "Were we manipulated by Lacan without knowing it? It's possible. In any case, we had rejected Leclaire, and for three years we operated without a director."24 Jean Clavreul succeeded Leclaire as the head of the department, but he stuck to daily business and gave all the department members a free hand.

Just a few short years later, in 1974, a second act took place. The department went into receivership under the leadership of the administration of the EFP, and therefore of Lacan, with his son-in-law Jacques-Alain Miller serving as intermediary. "Miller's arrival at the head of the department was getting us back in line. Lacan suggested that we comply with his wishes and we withdrew in good order. "25

Roger-Pol Droit leaked the story of this coup in Le Monde. "I played a small role there when I wrote an articIe letting people know that a putsch was being prepared. But they needed to be sure that no one knew too much about it, as is the case for any putsch. A week later, this article forced a general assembly and the writing of leaflets."26 Roger-Pol Droit called the operation a purification and denounced the Vichyist undertaking.F The putsch made a few waves and the leaflet signed by Gilles Deleuze and jean-Francois Lyotard denouncing a "Stalinist operation" was a veritable first in university affairs, since tradition usually prevented private individuals from directly intervening to fire or hire anyone. "Every kind of terrorism involves cleaning house: washing the unconscious seems no less terrible or authoritarian than brainwashing."28 Henceforth normalized by its local Husak.s? jacques-Alain Miller, the department of psychoanalysis of Vincennes operated in a strict Lacanian orthodoxy. In 1969, Lacan had warned: "You will find your master" and the students naively believed that he was thinking of Pompidou. He was in fact talking about himself. Psychoanalysis at Vincennes once again became an orderly structure, which triumphed over the agitation to restore the hierarchy.

In terdisciplinarity

Power struggles were less pointed in the other departments at Vin-cennes, but they did not preclude interdisciplinary exchanges. The history department made no secret of its objective of destroying the illusions of a historical science and raised questions about its very object of study, notably by comparing its methods with those of the other social sciences.

Such interdisciplinarity was also at the heart of the department of political economy, which was something new for a literary university. The outlines had been prepared by Andre Nicolai, although he did not teach at Vincennes, since the department only gave two years of courses and students could not get their third-year degree, the Licence. "It was the hard-core literary types who dominated and they wanted an alibi of scientificity by being sure that economics was taught."3o At a time when econometrics and the mathernatization of economic language were triumphing, the department of political economy was an exception. Generally open to historical, sociological, philosophical, and anthropological thinking, it argued that there was no pure economy. Michel Beaud, who later became the head of the department, considered that he was renewing the eighteenth-century tradition of political economy. "I think that we are right and that we are ahead of the others. "31 He remembered this period of richly diverse thinking thanks to undergraduates in other departments who had come to pick up some basics of economics. "They came up with objections using Deleuze, Foucault, Poulantzas, or others, and forced us to read and to think."32

The other important innovation that worked at Vincennes was a film department, which was spectacularly popular: twelve hundred students took courses and there were more than five hundred majors.

There were some technical courses like those at the National Cinema School (IDHEC), but the department was essentially theoretical and broadened the audience of the new cinema semiology. Christian Metz's work became a fundamental source of inspiration for the theoretical work at Paris VIII. Michel Marie used Metz's work for his analysis of Alain Resnais's film Muriel, breaking the film into the smallest discrete units possible, using textual analysis to discern the pertinent, minimal units of cinematographic language. Marc Vernet considered this fantasy of complete mastery over a film on the basis of its division and numbering into phases/sequences was "a historically legitimate idea at the time since we didn't have any films, so we had to photograph as many things as possible and have an exact decoupage. At the time, we had neither copies nor videocassettes."33

Madness at Vincennes

Heads you had scientific discourse, tails you had raving. Occasionally, the same people were on both sides of the coin. This was the reality of Vincennes. And in the seventies, the group Foudre, sponsored by Alain Badiou and led by Bernard Sichere, became emblematic of this double reality. This Maoist group wanted to be a kernel of cultural criticism and did not hesitate to employ terrorist tactics. Among its credits was blocking the projection of Liliana Cavani's film Night Porter on the campus. But its favored target was Maria-Antonietta Macciocchi, a teacher who was, curiously enough, a great admirer of China.

Macciocchi was working in a collective on fascism at the time. She was accused of being a fascist for having wanted to transform her teaching group into a propaganda office, and for having shown the film The Jew Suss. The madness reached its apex in March 1976 when the group Foudre distributed a leaflet titled "Rolling Balls Gather No Masses":

Alas. We will never again see the illustrious Pythonisse of the Western World who made us laugh so hard! ... One day, she thought she had found the solution-why look to reality when you have a crystal ball! An excellent palmist, depending on whether she tilted her ball toward the East or toward the West, she saw a mustache appear, without quite knowing if it was Stalin's or Hitler's, but all mustaches were pointed and ended up like these fish tails, she said, that intersect in the Gulag archipelago. One day, believing she was dreaming,

she saw a Ghost Ship and felt the stripes of Commander Sollers growing on her own head, and she looked at herself in the mirror for a long time and found herself quite beautiful. That was the end; she began to stutter and mixed everything up-Marxism and psychoanalysis, students and murderers, paranoia and paranoia, pens and felt tips, barricades and Mr. Dadoun's couch, the Marquis de Sade and concentration camps, fascism and Marxist-Leninisrs.>

Mad Vincennes? Beyond the folklore and the mad acting out of an impotent desire to incarnate absent populations, the campus was, above all, Structuralist Vincennes.


Journals: Still Going Strong

May '68 also led to the creation of international collectives reorganized into new journals and reinvigorating those that already existed. We have already seen how much energy went into creating new theoretical journals during the early years of structuralism's rise. This energy continued through the early seventies.

Literary and Linguistic Avant-Gardes

The great semiological adventure continued, with its characteristically intense linguistic and literary critical activity. When Semiotica was founded in 1969, with editor in chief Thomas A. Sebeok, it had two assistant editors in Paris, Josette Rey-Debove and ]ulia Kristeva. The editorial board was composed of well-known figures from seven different countries: Roland Barthes (France), Umberto Eco (Italy), Juri M. Lotrnan (USSR),jan Pelc (Poland), Nicolas Ruwet (Belgium), Meyer Schapiro (United States), and Heinz Sailu (West Germany). Semiotica became the official journal for the International Semiotics Organization, headed by Emile Benveniste and run by Julia Kristeva. The review would publish semiotic research in all disciplines where the notion of the sign was recognized and discussed. As a result, articles were far-ranging.

In the same line as Langages and also published by Larousse, a new review, Langue française, was launched by French linguists, under the direction of jean-Claude Chevalier, as a joint undertaking of the Society for the Study of the French Language (SELF) and the department of general linguistics at Vincennes. The inaugural issue came out in February 1969 with a print run of five thousand copies.' "According to the jargon of the period, we wanted to join theory with

practice____The first four issues (on syntax, lexicon, semantics, and

stylistics) indicated our pedagogical intentions.'?

In his 1968 article in the collective work What Is Structuralismi-Tzvetan Todorov had defined poetics as one of the elements of structuralism. Poetique focused on literary theory and analysis and systematically explored this path from its creation in 1970 at Seuil by Gerard Genette, Tzvetan Todorov, and Helene Cixous. Its theoretical givens were the structuralist and formalist orthodoxy. Poetique was to be a warhorse against psychologizing theory. Contributors were experienced literary types, familiar with linguistics and close to Barthes. However, in the early seventies, they were separated from him because of his rapprochement with the Tel Quel group and his partisanship with its textual ideology. "Barthes participated in this idea of a Text with a capital T, which implied something of a metaphysics of the Text, whereas Genette and I were much more empirically minded."4 Poetique was strictly literary, and there was no question of subjecting thinking about literature to any derivative Marxist or Freudian model. The formalist slant implied that literary language would be studied independently from the referent, be it social or subjective, and in this it was faithful to the Russian formalists of the beginning of the century.

There were scientific aspirations. Philippe Hamon considered a literary character to be a group of signs on a page. "In that respect, we went too far. That was one of my most terrorist pieces."5 At the same time, Seuil launched a collection entitled "Poetique" directed by Gerard Genette and Tzvetan Todorov, which published major works.s The relationship between linguistics and literature was therefore central to many debates and studies."

As far as Vincennes was concerned, the department of letters created a review in 1971, shortly after Poetique, that was published by Larousse. Litterature tried to explore something other than the formalism championed by Poetique.' The team of French professors was not particularly homogeneous and they decided to juxtapose different viewpoints in order to enrich literary analysis. "We had a common core that was vaguely Marxist and sociological, and some were rhetoricians impassioned by the study of forms and ideology. Our two masters were Benveniste and Althusser."9 The journal proposed a new slant in the structural paradigm and the attempt to connect it to the Subject and to history. A special issue came out on the beginnings of this reconciliation.!'' Reflecting the militant interdisciplinarity of the department of letters at Vincennes was the rule, not so much through real, joint research programs as through the variety of interests of each of the participants in the review. Some, like Henri Mitterand and Pierre Kuentz, were interested in structural linguistics, whereas others, like Claude Duchet, were more interested in sociocriticism. Jean Bellemin-Noel opened up critical work to an analytic approach that was not so much working on the author's unconscious as mirroring the fantasies provoked by reading the text. He called this impact on the reader's unconscious the textual unconscious. Bellernin-Noel characterized the interplay of production/reception as textual analysis and this led literary studies onto Freudian grounds, one of the major focuses of Litterature, together with a Marxist-Althusserian perspective.

Writing and Revolution

The changes going on in structuralism as of 1967, which were accentuated and comforted by the struggles of 1968, found a special platform for expression in the avant-garde review Tel Quel. Derrida's deconstruction received its widest readership thanks to Tel Quel. Philippe Sollers, a friend of Derrida, addressed structuralism's different faces in order to sketch out what he called a "program" during the fall of 1967, and which Elisabeth Roudinesco later characterized as a "flamboyant manifesto of intellectual terrorism."!' This program defined a revolutionary path and considered that in order for the revolution to happen, writing had to be shaken up. Tel Quel presented itself as the avant-garde of the proletarian revolution to come and, in a Leninist fashion, was to have a "scientific" program, of course. Seeking to move the masses, this volatile, literary Molotov cocktail was a scholarly potion mixing Derrida, Foucault, Lacan, and Althusser.

Tel Quel thought of itself as bearing all modernist advances in the human sciences renewed by the structuralist paradigm. And it was powerful enough to come out with its 1968 collection at Seuil of a Tel Quel: Theorie d'ensemble, which adopted a scientific perspective. "We think that what has been called 'literature' belongs to a period that is now over, having given way to a nascent science of writing."l2

To historical materialism, Philippe Sollers added semantic materialism, which adopted Jacques Derrida's architraces, Michel Foucault's epistemic breaks, and Louis Althusser's epistemological breaks, as well as Lacan's split subject.

Symbolically, Tel Quel managed to confederate the different elements of the current modernization in the social sciences, inasmuch as it had been the privileged partner of the PCF intellectuals at La Nouvelle Critique. According to its authors, the set theory would unite all of French society. The Tel Quel perspective nevertheless was above all literary. In 1968, the year Philippe Sollers's Logiques came out,13 the focus was on marginal texts which subverted historical linearity and the very notion of truth, of the subject. This was the spirit in which Sollerstook on the works of Sade, Mallarme, and Bataille, as so many revolutionary textual breaks turned, not really toward a dialectical Aufhebung, but toward their own erasure through a process of consumption already at work in his Numbers and Drama. The text "burns at all levels, it appears only to efface itself," 14 according to the oxymoron, a rhetorical figure of suspended meaning and history.

Tel Quel wanted to be the bearer of a "Red Front in Art," for which literature and revolution "make common cause. "15 This Front, which proudly waved the banner of the signifier finally freed from the signified, found concrete, structural support in its relationship with the PCP. Theoretically, Tel Quel was the organ of Derridean de-construction. In reaction to Bernard Pingaud's criticisms, Philippe Sollers recalled that Derrida's Of Grammatology clarified and radically modified the thinking of the last years. "No thinking can henceforth avoid situating itself with respect to this event."16

Pingaud asked "Whither Tel Quel?"1? giving Sollers the opportunity to clarify a certain number of turns in the sinuous path of the journal's history. In 1968, Sollers defined the foundations of 1960 as basically aesthetically ambiguous but correct insofar as they gave priority to an immanent practice of the text. This position, however, remained too mired in metaphysics, which saw the text as an expression, and tended to take the new novel's positivism-from 1960 to 1962, the form of writing championed by Tel Quel-too seriously. In 1962, thanks to linguistics, a new period began during which the status of writing came under examination. "At that point, indeed, linguistics was, for us, a powerful aid."18

In 1964, Tel Quel defined itself as a journal of the avant-garde, of

Bataille, Artaud, and Sade, writers who tested limits and whose non-metaphorical writing broke with tradition. Categories defining works and authors were called into question and the issue became more and more one of writing, based on the work of Derrida and Althusser: the notion of the sign was questioned, and literature was considered to be production.

While Sollers was in the process of clarifying the journal's orientation, it was on the verge of a radical swing from a Russian to a Chinese version of Marxism. Part of the fallout of May '68 and the success of the Proletarian Left, the shift was made in record time. In September 1968, Tel Quel was still publishing articles on contemporary semiology in the USSR (issue 35), introduced by Julia Kristeva, but by the beginning of 1969, it turned to the Red East to the "Great Helmsman," to a Stalinist Marxism-Leninism purified by President Mao, even if, after serious disputes, the journal decided to maintain its participation in a colloquium in 1970 at Cluny on the topic "Literature and Ideology." When the "Movement of june '71" was created at Tel Quel, no compromise was possible. Bridges had been definitively burned with "revisionists" and "new czars."

Tel Quel became the expression of intellectuals' fascination with China and their interest was reciprocated when a team from the editorial board including Marcelin Pleynet, Philippe Sollers, julia Kristeva, and Roland Barthes was invited to China.

We are the first writers to go to China, with a journal that prints five thousand copies (the issue on China went to twenty-five thousand copies). We are invited by a population of almost one billion individuals, thanks to this little journal. We come back, and all the newspapers are filled with our positions. In a word, it was quite effective.19

The 1974 trip to China was based on the idea of a possible leap forward thanks to the "Cultural Revolution," even though the Cultural Revolution had been over since 1969 and the Chinese Communist Party again had an iron grip on the Chinese population. So there was a big gap between the travelers' imaginary China and its Stalinist reality. Julia Kristeva admitted, in fact-but only in 1988: "Contemporary China disappointed me. We did not see the liberation we had hoped for, but rather much constraint, including torture and the murder of more or less free-minded individuals. "20

Tel Quel was locked in a hollow Chinese discourse. It exerted its intellectual terrorism on a broad scale because it claimed to represent this little-known Oriental viewpoint, which represented a relatively large slice of humanity. It wanted to incarnate the overthrow not only of French society, but of all of humanity, from the countryside to the cities. A new generation of Maoists joined the editorial board. In 1971, Bernard Sichere became a Maoist and joined Tel Quel after a considerable and significant disagreement with the high school where he was teaching. "I came to the journal because of a disagreement with certain of the students' parents at the high school where I was teaching. I had used texts by Sade in my classes; our disagreement was political and literary."21 The meeting took place with Tel Quel, which saw itself as expressing the most radical protest of politics, theory, and literature. "At the time, practice won out over theory, which revealed an excessive subjectivity over the will to theorize; all this gave rise to intellectual terrorism among psychoanalysts at Tel Quel, and in political groups. "22

We can see this excess in the Tel Quel microcosm as something like a literature that did not manage to find itself, and therefore took indirect paths to valorize an aesthetic that could not admit what it was, during a period when the novel was in crisis and ideological criticism was tremendously active. Dissension and rupture resulted, and were all the more violent for being impassioned, for indeed, tremendous affectivity underlay the theoretical discourse. Every change for the journal resulted in staff changes around the original editorial group, and increased the numbers of pariahs.

In 1967, the fratricidal battle between Tel Quel and Jean-Pierre Faye had already begun. "On a day when I was feeling trustful, I mentioned two or three things about the very right-wing position of Tel Que! during the Algerian War. There were a lot of repercussions and a real explosion of anger."23 The Maoist moment only further poisoned a virulent polemic between the two sides, so much so that Jean-Pierre Faye resigned from Tel Quel to create Change, which was also at Seuil. The editorial core was formed in the fall of 1967 and the first issue came out in 1968.24 The title itself evoked the vacillation and hesitation between science and literature, between formal theory and ideological criticism. The editorial board planned to work on the construction of the recit in order to better understand the effects of the interplay of forms. "It was in this interval between construction and dismantling that criticism shifted. "25 Writing was its focus, and Change directly rivaled Tel Quel right from the start.

jean-Pierre Faye adopted the Prague Circle legacy, to which his journal devoted an entire issue. He wanted to restore historicity and dynamics in the structural model by using Chomsky's generative grammar, even if his approach was not completely consonant with Chomsky's own project. But this was how Faye understood and used it, pushing the notion of syntactic transformation to the forefront and making it possible to go from deep to surface structures (the models of competence and performance). Change also evoked the idea of mobile structures, and was inspired by a poem by Faye, "written in the Azores, in an archipelago in the middle of the Atlantic, halfway between Lisbon and Brazil. ... This sort of hub of the archipelago was, for me, the sign of the change of forms."26 Faye also found this idea of a "change of forms" in Marx, in a censured text clarifying the presentation he made to French readers, but in which the issue was the question of the market object that becomes part of the exchange process and changes form by changing hands-it becomes value. "It is this change of form that conditions and mediates the change of value, an extraordinary formula that completely reverses the vulgate and its ironclad infrastructures."27

Mitsou Ronat joined the editorial group. Her work on rule changing in poetic language was consonant with their orientation. Working on Mallarrne's prose, she carefully pointed out syntactic rules as rules of deviation and dissidence with respect to French transformational grammar, even though they had their own rigor. "It was a need to change language."28 A third period in the history of Change came when it focused on the relationship with the story recounted, the act of relating a message, enabling the journal to look at history and utterances, the subject of Jean-Pierre Faye's thesis, published in 1972:29 "What seemed to me to be the critical moment in the analysis of language, a common concern of philosophy and history, was the way in which language returns to its reality by changing it. "30

Ethereal Realms of Confrontation

These journals attracted research projects, generated consensus, and elicited powerful dissent. Reviews during this period were the best way to get theoretical debates going. In 1963, Esprit had already interviewed Levi-Strauss, and in 1968 it interviewed Michel Foucault, who was asked the following question: "Doesn't the kind of thinking that introduces the constraints of the system and discontinuity into the history of thought undermine the foundations of any progressive political intervention?"31 It was May 1968, so Foucault's answer went rather unnoticed at the time, but it was in fact absolutely relevant. He returned to his notion of episteme, which clearly posed a problem, and redefined the grand underlying theory that had seemed well established in The Order of Things. In its place, he proposed the notion of a dispersive space that made possible many analyses, always differentiated. Clearly, Derrida's notion of différance had influenced Foucault, for whom "the episteme is not a general stage of reason but a complex relationship of successive shifts."32 Thus Foucault responded to the accusation that his philosophical system privileged constraints. Above all, he tried to replace causal relations that aligned all phenomena with reference to a single cause with a "polymorphous bundle of correlations. "33

The archival work that he defined was a prelude to The Archaeology of Knowledge on which he was working. His was not a proposal to collect texts but to determine how they came to be, what the conditions of their legibility and transformations were. In contrast to structural linguistics, Foucault was not interested in rules of internal construction, but rather in the condition of the existence of what was said. This was the issue that led him to reject any structuralist label: "Is it necessary to reiterate that I am not what is called a 'structural-ist'?"34 As for the relationship between his thinking and political practice, in other words the question of progressivism, Foucault responded regarding the critical character of his work: "Progressive politics is a politics that recognizes the historical conditions and the specific rules of practice." 35

After 1968 and until 1970, La Nouvelle Critique pursued its policy of openness, of promulgating structuralist ideas, and its special relationship with the Tel Quel team. In April 1970, a jointly organized colloquium was held at Cluny on the relationship between literature and ideology, and the papers were published in La Nouvelle Critique. But things unfolded in an atmosphere of crisis because the East was increasingly Red and, seen from Peking, the PCF looked like a pale shade of pink to the Tel Quel team.

In October 1970, Catherine Backes-Clement published a special report in La Nouvelle Critique on "Marxism and Psychoanalysis,"36 with contributions by Antoine Casanova, Andre Green, Serge Leclaire, Bernard Miildworf, and Lucien Sève.36 The goal was to find a way to articulate the two "sciences." Julia Kristeva, who had stunned the intellectuals of the PCF at the first joint colloquium organized with La Nouvelle Critique, was given carte blanche. All the important columns of the journal were placed at her disposal, and in 1970 she was interviewed by Christine Buci-Glucksmann and Jean Peytard on the ideas in her Research for a SemanalysisY

La Nouvelle Critique also publicized and analyzed Levi-Strauss's work. Having already written about Mythologiques in 1969, Backes-Clement interviewed Levi-Strauss in 1973. His remarks reassured Marxists: "I am deeply convinced that the infrastructure determines the superstructures. "38 In addition, he announced an impending and essentially ecological battle, which meant that he thought it was time to reconsider the notion of industrial progress. He considered that the environment needed to be preserved and that industrial pollution was an increasingly pressing problem, becoming even more important than the problem of relations among human beings themselves.

Scilicet, created in the fall of 1968, was Lacan's psychoanalytic and dogmatic answer to L'lnconsdent, a review that had been founded by Piera Aulagnier, Conrad Stein, and Jean Clavreul, and that put out eight issues. "Lacan criticized us considerably for having brought Stein on board while he was sending his daughter to him for analysis. So we created this journal and Lacan was furious; he was beside himself."39 Jean Clavreul had to return to Lacan and, in 1973, Rene Major reacted to the compartmentalization of the schools by first launching a seminar, which quickly became a journal with the significant name Confrontation. At issue was the theoretical dialogue between the four groups. "I attempted to have them communicate by trying to compare the theories. "40 Serge Leclaire, in the name of the Lacanians, approved this initiative by a member of the Institute. "The crowd quickly gathered, things exploded, all the different orthodoxies were called into question."41 The public included writers and philosophers; a friendship soon developed between Rene Major and jacques Derrida, who approved the effects of Confrontation on the decon-struction of the Lacanian school and the erosion of Lacan's absolute power within it. Lacan reacted quickly. The school's director, Denis Vasse, was forced to resign for having gone to a meeting of the Confrontation seminar. This was just a measure to maintain order. Lacan telephoned Rene Major, saying, "Major, don't worry, it's only a matter of internal politics. "42

The journals welcomed these disciplinary confrontations among specialists, which allowed for some common reflection on writing. Having focused on the notion of structure prior to 1967, they became more interested in the pluralization and dynamization of structure in the second phase of structuralism.


The Althusserian Grid: A Must

May '68 had shaken Althusserian ideas. After the general strikes, the Althusserians fell silent. And yet, the protests of 1968 were inflected with a Marxist discourse and Althusser had provided the means of reconciling loyalty to Marxism with the desire for structural rigor. All of the '68 generation used Althusser's categories in every reach of knowledge, often without having read For Marx or Reading Capital. In 1968, Reading Capital came out at Maspero in paperback and it sold a phenomenal seventy-eight thousand copies (in the Maspero Paperback Collection [PCM]J in two years. Althusserian thinking was part of the times; many were Althusserians without even knowing it. Paradoxically, the political practice of an entire generation discovered Marx revisited by Althusser, who had based his famous epistemologi-cal break on purely theoretical grounds, as far as possible from action and praxis.

Althusser Is Back

Because of May 1968, the apprentice philosopher Andre Comte-Sponville, an eighteen-year-old high-school student at the time, lost faith and quit the Young Communist Students and joined the "party of the working class." During the vacation prior to his khâgne, he read Althusser. The effects were shattering and it changed "my relationship to philosophy for a long time": "These two books [ForMarx and Reading Capital] resembled blinding revelations opening up something like a new world."! Like many of his generation, Comte-Sponville became a Marxist of Althusserian persuasion. Althusser's rigor, with its tragic and almost Jansenist dimension, was appealing. "He was my master and he remained so."2

While students were absorbing Althusser's ideas, Althusser himself and those around him were keeping a rather low profile. It was not until 1972-73 that Althusser once again returned to the center stage of the publishing scene, while the traditional left was regrouping around the Common Platform and political leftism was becoming marginal. Three publications came out in quick succession: Answer to John Lewis (Maspero, 1972), Philosophy and the Spontaneous Philosophy of Scholars (Maspero, 1973), and Elements of a Self-Criticism (Hachette, 1973) and made such an impact that the iconoclastic philosophy inside the PCF itself was finally officially recognized in 1976 when Positions, a collection of many articles published between 1964 and 1975, was published at Editions Sociales. This PCF consecration followed academic recognition: Althusser had been named professor after defending his doctoral thesis- in Amiens. The thesis represented his published work because his initial project, presented in 1949-50 to jankelevitch and Hyppolite, for a thesis on the topic "Politics and Philosophy in the Eighteenth Century" had been rejected. Despite this rather tardy university consecration, Althusser continued on as the caiman at the École Normale Supérieure on the rue d'Ulm in Paris.

Marxism's second wind among intellectuals after 1968 meant that Althusser's ideas had once again become interesting. He headed Maspero's "Theory" collection, and in 1973 Hachette started a new collection, called "Analysis," that he also directed. once Marx had been read and reread using Althusserian categories, Althusser himself became the topic with Saul Karsz's 1974 Theory and Politics: Louis Althusser.' which also served as an introduction to the master's work, and gave a defense and illustration of his ideas. Karsz demonstrated the internal coherence of Althusser's theory, and also exonerated him in advance from the criticisms that were already being levied. In 1976, the review Dialectiques devoted an issue to Althusser in which Regine Robin and Jacques Guilhaumou expressed their emotional and intellectual debts. "It was a moment when I began to breathe For both of us, it was quite simply the possibility of doing history Althusser forced us to reread texts."5 He represented a radical change for historians that allowed them to destroy the Stalinist setting, overthrow the taboos of the mechanistic Marxist vulgate, and free discursivity.

Althusser's ideas reached well beyond France. Latin America was particularly receptive and protests against Communist Party officials tied to Moscow were more often than not made in his name, particularly in Argentina. The Answer to John Lewis was a fictional polemic with the English Marxist philosopher John Lewis, and the positions he espoused in the spring of 1972 in the British Communist Party journal Marxism Today. The book provoked such interest among English Marxists that a group of philosophers from the British Communist Party decided to organize a two-day conference on Althusser's texts. In 1971, a new philosophy journal, Theoretical Practice, clearly oriented around Althusser's positions, was published outside official party circles.

The SIAs

The Althusserian triumph of the seventies differed from the one that greeted his work in the mid-sixties. It echoed May '68 and its challenge to Althusser by shifting theory toward analysis, as the name of Hachette's new collection suggested. By this shift, Althusser implied moving from a purely theoretical and speculative point of view to one that made "a concrete analysis of a concrete situation," by beginning with conceptual categories, but at the same time avoiding empiricism. Economic conditions were henceforth to be studied based on Marxist theory, and the Althusserians left their ivory towers, where they had limited themselves to simple exegeses of Marx's ideas, in order to meet the real world.

It was from this perspective in 1970 that Althusser defined a vast research program with his famous article on the SIAs: State Ideology and Ideological Apparatuses.f He distinguished between repressive state structures, which imposed themselves violently, and ideological state apparatuses, which functioned by ideology. The latter, which included the family, political parties, labor unions, the media, culture, schools, and churches, served to forge loyalty to the dominant ideology and submission to the established order. Althusser agreed that educational institutions played a central role in establishing the hegemony of modern capitalist society,as Gramsci had already suggested: "It is the school apparatus that, through its functions, in fact replaces the old, dominant state ideological apparatus, or, in other words, the church."?

Althusser invited people to study the school system. This meant shifting the study from ideology as a simple discourse and to ideology as practice. In this, his positions were closer to those of Michel Foucault in 1969, when he argued that the discursive order needed to be complemented by the study of nondiscursive practices and their reciprocal articulation. For both Althusser and Foucault, ideology had a material existence incarnated by institutional practices. Althusser even based his approach on an ontologized ideology, which he considered to be an ahistorical category: "Ideology has no history,"! He reversed the positions of the vulgate, which claimed that ideology was a simple deformed outgrowth of reality, and argued that it was an essential structure, a veritable essence expressing the relationship of human beings to their world. "I will use Freud's expression verbatim and write: ideology is eternal, like the unconscious."?

Althusser opened up a vast area of study. In 1971, Christian Baude-lot and Roger Establet, in The Capitalist School in Prance.t" analyzed schoolbook selection. Roger Establet, one of the authors of Reading Capital, quickly turned toward sociology and used statistics professionally, unlike the philosophers at VIm. The double impact of both Althusser and Bourdieu's The Inheritors led Establet and Baudelot to test the hypothesis of the state's ideological tools by measuring their statistical validity in schools. They quite clearly differentiated between two periods of study, one short and one long, which made it possible to reproduce social divisions of labor within a capitalist mode of production. "We applied this model of the SIAs to statistical reality to try and see what was true and verifiable in this model in the school system." 11

A project of even wider scope that included this study aimed to restore a history of pedagogical ideas. This was the framework in which Etienne Balibar's mother, Renee Balibar, and Dominique Laporte brought out National French,12 and Renee Balibar alone brought out The Fictive Prenchl> Both books argued that bourgeois schooling perfected a very specific system of language with a specific history from the time of the French Revolution. Althusser's definition of state ideological structures multiplied possible specific research areas that could more broadly elucidate social reality. Certainly, many mechanical applications abounded, but for Althusser, SIAs, despite the term "apparatuses," in no way expressed a site or an instrument. "Althusser tried to refer to a certain number of processes that interacted with one another."14 So this work was quite clearly moving toward institutional practices and reflected his concern of going from theoretical to practical work.

Structural-Althusserian Anthropology

Above all else, the Althusserian grid led to trying to reconcile Marxism and structuralism in anthropology. Even before May '68, there was an active current of Marxist anthropologists, which included Claude Meillassoux, Maurice Godelier, Emmanuel Terray, and Pierre-Philippe Rey, among others. For most of them, Althusser offered a theoretical framework for fieldwork. Before I968, there had been discussions, debates, and colloquiums, but it quickly became necessary to give them some reality by doing fieldwork. "Then came this feeling that if we continued to discuss things on such narrow bases, we would not go forward and, in a certain way, we all decided to undertake fieldwork and widen our experience." 15

As we have already mentioned, Emmanuel Terray had discovered Levi-Strauss's The Elementary Structures of Kinship in I957, to his great delight. He wanted to incorporate Levi-Strauss's scientific rigor into his own Marxist political commitment, beyond the pale of the official vulgate of the sixties. Terray saw three limits to structuralist thinking that Marxism could overcome.ts First, structuralism could not eliminate philosophy, and the philosophy underlying Levi-Strauss's work, a Kantianism without any transcendental subject, considered that binary oppositions were part of the structures of the human brain. This Kantianism, Terray said, "hardly beckoned me. "17 Second, the phonological model worked for Levi-Strauss because, according to Terray, he equated society and that which had to do with representation and language. But Terray took issue with this as well. "I was thus able to write that in I949 he should have called his book The Elementary Structures ofDiscourse on Kinship. "18 Levi-Straussian structuralism therefore did not take the option of looking at action and praxis. Third, by defining society as an exchange of words, goods, and women, Levi-Strauss had eliminated two realms that remained the blind spots of the structural approach: production (reduced to a study of exchange) and all phenomena pertaining to power. "And yet, these are two points on the basis of which, according to Marx, change occurs, which therefore leads me to Marxism. Whence the idea of organizing a peaceful coexistence, a cooperative collaboration."19

Terray wanted to reconcile Marxism and contemporary rationality with the structural method, and, conversely, "to dynamize rather than dynamite the structural apparatus with Marxism. "20 In order to do so, he used Claude Meillassoux's fieldwork published in Economic Anthropology of the Guro of the Ivory Coast.21 which he deemed "a turning point in the history of anthropology. "22 He revisited the work using Althusserian categories, particularly the fundamental concepts of historical materials as Balibar had defined them in Reading Capital. Meillassoux's project had been to describe the self-sufficient mode of production of the linear and segmentary societies of the Guro, and to study their transition to commercial agriculture. By analyzing work instruments, production techniques, and labor force used, Meillassoux reconstituted the work process and the relations of production in which the work took place. Terray argued that this allowed him to define two forms of cooperation. One resulted from hunting with nets and determined a complex form of cooperation, while the second, simpler form of cooperation was based on agriculture. The first corresponded to the tribal-village system, and the second to the linear system.

In Althusserian terms, Terray distinguished two modes of closely associated production in the socioeconomic formation studied by Meillassoux: on the one hand, complex cooperation in a tribal-village system based on collectively owned means of production and egalitarian distribution, and a weak, alternating, and occasional legal-political power; on the other hand, simple cooperation in the linear system, where ownership was collective, where an individual could represent the group, where the division of production was based on its redistribution, and where power was more solidly constructed and enduring, and held by the elders. Arguing that kinship relationships did not determine all social organization in primitive societies, Terray claimed that their eventual dominance depended on their role as relations of production. "We notice simply that the supremacy of kinship relationships in all social organization in no way characterizes all primitive socioeconomic formations: it is linked to the presence of a limited number of certain modes of production."23

Terray felt that Meillassoux had illustrated Althusser's thesis of the autonomy of different organizing structures, and the possible shift between dominance of one particular structure and, ultimately, economic determination. This approach also let him take on structuralism's two blind spots of politics and production.

However, Claude Meillassoux had not done his fieldwork using Althusserian categories. His first theoretical article on interpreting economic phenomena in traditional societies was published in 1969, well before Althusser's work was published. Terray's interpretation was gratifying, but he had some reservations. "Of course I was happy that Terray had given so much importance to my work, but he gave it an Althusserian reading that, to a certain degree, obliterated a part of what I had tried to show, in particular the historical and dialectical parts. "24 He did nonetheless acknowledge that Terray had seen clearly that his approach focused on the dissociation of social organization, kinship, and consanguinity, as well as the reorganization of kinship in terms of the necessities of organizing work and production.

In 1965, Marc Auge had also left to do fieldwork under African skies, on the Alladian of the Ivory Coast. Auge was influenced by Althusser and compared his analytic grid with what he found in the field, hoping to find a way to reconcile Levi-Straussian structuralism, his training as an Africanist with Georges Balandier, and his Althus-serian Marxism. He also wanted to make structure more dynamic by warning against obliterating the historical dimension of the analyses. Reacting against the vogue for the exotic represented at the time in the image of the Other as the bearer of lost illusions, Auge recalled that "anthropological discourse is all the more guilty for being part of history, the history of others, of course. "25 Auge's Althusserianism was significantly tempered by his literary background, and the encounter between conceptual categories and the reality of the field was consigned to footnotes. The anthropology he defended reconciled notions that until then had opposed meaning and function, and symbol and history. "Anthropological revision can only take place, to my mind, by starting with the two strong points of the most recent work in French anthropology, structuralism and Marxism. "26

Maurice Godelier's work was theoretically proximate to that of Althusserian anthropologists, even if he did not belong to Althusser's group. Like Claude Meillassoux, he had undertaken a Marxist reading of economic rationalism before having read Reading Capital. Godelier, more than other Marxist anthropologists, wanted to achieve a symbiosis between Marxism and structuralism. "We will adopt the structural method when we must advance in the areas Levi-Strauss has not addressed. "27 For Althusserians, rereading Marx was the basis of Godelier's work, except that he reread Marx through Levi-Strauss, He demonstrated the same anti-Hegelianism as Althusser, made the same references to the notion of break borrowed from Bachelard, which was necessary for moving beyond empiricism to unlock the logic of the social realm. This break was also quite clear in Marx. "Economic science radically separates itself from all ideology, and Marx no longer has anything to do with the young Marx. "28 Maspero's publication of a hefty collection of Godelier's articles since 1966, entitled Horizon: Marxist Pathways in Anthropology, bore witness to the vitality of this Marxist current in anthropology: 4,95° copies were sold before the paperback version came out in the peM collection in 1977 with a print run of ten thousand. Godelier became the director of the "Anthropology Library" collection published by Maspero alongside Louis Althusser's "Theory" collection.

Godelier was forced to cross swords with official PCF positions, particularly with Lucien Sève, who in 1967 opposed both the structural method and dialectical thinking. In 1970, Godelier responded to these criticisms in the same review, La Pensee. But he took a conciliatory approach, and tried to bring structuralism together with a dialectical approach, although this in no way prevented him from criticizing structuralist theses when he had to: "Structural analysis-even though it does not negate history-eannot link arms with it because, from the outset, it has separated the analysis of the form of kinship relationships from that of their functions. "29

The big question raised by Godelier's theoretical work, and which reiterated that of the Althusserians, was the basis of structural causality: how is it that kinship plays a dominant role in traditional societies, combined with the final determination of the economic factor? In this respect, Godelier shifted the usual vision, which put infra- into superstructures, arguing that primitive societies did not separate economic relationships from kinship relationships. Their particularity was that "kinship relationships functioned like relations of production, which is a political relationship, and an ideological arrangement. Here, kinship is both infrastructure and superstructure."30 To support his argument, Godelier took an example from the M'Buti pygmies, a hunting society in the Congolese forest. These hunter-gatherers lived with certain internal constraints on their mode of production: the dispersion of groups, the necessity of individual cooperation, and a certain fluidity between bands ensured that men and resources were harmoniously distributed. The production mode of the M'Buti thus determined a whole system of constraints whose articulations formed "the general structure of the society." 31

Godelier's positions closely resembled Althusser's, despite certain differences. "Many of Althusser's disciples interpret his hierarchical theory of institutions [and not of functions] and fall into the same pos-itivist error they claim to have gotten beyond once and for all theoretically.'^ Having managed to combine Marxism and structuralism led Godelier to distinguish, in Marx, the use of two different forms of contradiction. One, internal to the very structure of the relation of production, was conceived as an original contradiction; the other opposed two types of structures: relations of production and productive forces. This distinction allowed him to adjust the Marxist approach to traditional societies and to clarify their internal transition. "Analyzing the nature of contradictions, the result of the analysis of structural causality should lead to a true theory about where the contradictions are shifted when a mode of production has been transformed." 33 Here Godelier differed from Levi-Strauss, who reduced historicity to a simple contingency. During a debate with Levi-Strauss and Marc Auge organized by the review L'Homme in 1975, Godelier remarked: "Infact, I criticize the tribute you paid history in From Honey to Ashes as an irreducible contingency; I think that ultimately it was a definitely negative homage, an homage that worked against history,">'

Althusserian Sociology

Althusser's ideas were spectacularly attractive to many sociologists after May 1968. Thinking about politics and representation in the political arena was changing, nourished by the notion of state ideological institutions. "This article was my Bible for a long time," recalls Pierre Ansart. "The famous SIAs were everywhere. I could never understand how those ideas could be so powerfully seductive. "35

At the time, Ansart was submerged. He was vainly trying to resist the fashion by systematically criticizing Althusser's article at Paris VII, but students protested and suspected him of deviating from Marxism. Ansart protested against the reproductive schemes that emanated functionally from the state to even the most limited units, such as the family. He argued for notions of contradiction and opposition in the phenomenon of ideological reception and its diversity. "Althusser's way of describing the process destroyed what I wanted to do. So I had every reason to attack him, but I was preaching to an empty ha11."36

Althusser owed his influence in political sociology primarily to Nicos Poulantzas and his 1968 Political Power and Social Classes?7 A sociology professor at Paris VII (Vincennes) after May 1968, Poulantzas proposed a very conceptual approach to sociology to separate it from its empiricism and to make it a scientific theory. "The mode of production constitutes a formal-abstract object that does not exist, in the strong sense, in reality."38 Loyal to a strict Althusserian orthodoxy somewhat influenced by Gramsci's definition of the state as the bearer of a universal function, Poulantzas considered that there were two misreadings of Marx; the one historical, and the other economist.

Historicism was expressed in two ways. The Hegelian current, represented by Georg Lukacs, Lucien Goldmann, and Herbert Mar-cuse, viewed the social class as the subject of history. The second current used Marx's functionalist interpretation-represented in France by Pierre Bourdieu-and had the perverse effect of theoretically dissociating the notion of the class-in-itself, defined by its place in the mode of production, and the class-for-itself, aware of its specific interests. By contrast, Poulantzas raised the same argument that Althusser had made against humanism, arguing that the agents of production were simple "bearers of a set of structures. "39

The other misreading of Marx, as Poulantzas saw it, was an economism reducing social classes to their reality within the relations of production. He was targeting the official vulgate here, and its theory of reflection: "Political or ideological powers are not the simple expression of economic power. "40 Poulantzas proposed a concept of hegemony borrowed from Gramsci, to restore the complexity of the legal-political state institutions. Ideology played a major role for him and was not reduced to masking economic domination but to constructing a positive, coherent discourse with respect to human experience and to occulting not only the economy, but above all the dominant institution.

Poulantzas had the merit of proposing a new way of thinking about power conceived of as a vast and encompassing strategic realm, a far more complex approach than the usual references to a state-class instrument. His approach closely resembled that of Michel Foucault, although he did not question the notion of the center in the operations of power. Poulantzas's work had a tremendous impact at the beginning of the seventies in the highly respected field of political sociology, so much so that the 1971 edition of Keys to Sociology" made reference to him more than to any other sociologist. "We were criticized on the four corners of the earth for having given Poulantzas's work so much attention in this book, but at the time it seemed normal. "42 The print runs of the book confirm Rene Lourau's evaluation; 8,200 copies were initially printed and the final print run went to forty thousand, including the paperbacks in the peM edition.

Althusserian Epistemology

Historical materialism, in its Althusserian version, was not limited to the social sciences. Because of its ambition to reconcile itself with contemporary rationality, the social sciences reviewed the hard sciences once again, essentially at the ENS on the rue d'Ulm in a "philosophy course for scientists." The 1967-68 courses eventually led to a publication that became the breviary of Althusserians involved in scientific research: On the History ofScience.v Michel Pecheux, whom we have already seen define discourse analysis using Althusserian concepts, raised the question of the famous notion of rupture. Using Althusser's breakdown of Marx's work into a before and after the famous episte-mological break, Pecheux studied the effects of the Galilean revolution in physics and biology. He wanted to clarify ideology and science in order to show that the conceptions of the world (ideology) were simply ignored "by each branch of physics at the specific level of the break. "44 Michel Fichant problematized the very notion of a history of science: "The history of science should not be taken for granted. "45 He addressed a very Foucauldian question of establishing the site of the theoretical discourse, the public to which it was addressed, and the place it was given. Fichant devoted a good part of the work to criticizing the fundamentally ideological obstacles thwarting the construction of a history of science: the fact that science is considered as a single entity developing in a continuous teleology, and the empiricism to which these notions led. Fichant preferred an "epistemology of recurrence. "46 This notion of recurrence was to constitute the major break with the traditional relationship between the scholar and scientific practice. But, according to Althusserian presuppositions, this recurrence was not a simple regressive, theological analysis assuming a historical continuum, but was supposed to distinguish the properties of reality from those of knowledge.

In this perspective opened up by such French epistemologists as Cavailles, Bachelard, and Canguilhem, the Althusserians defined the field of epistemological thinking. This was the context in which Dominique Lecourt published his For a Critique of Epistemologyf? a work clearly marked by post-May '68 that, while defining the contribution of Foucault's work, reintroduced the primacy of the notion of practice. Of course, Foucault mentioned the pertinence of discursive practices in his Archaeology of Knowledge, but, according to Lecourt, he did not go far enough. Scientific experimental practices could not be reduced to the study of discursive practices. Furthermore, studying the conditions of the possibility of a discourse did not eliminate the need for a systematic study of the conditions of its production. This occasional conflictual proximity and dialogue between Foucault's and Althusser's work were as we shall see, fundamental in each of their epistemological inflections.

Pierre Raymond, an Althusserian and a mathematician, published a series of works in the mid-seventies examining what made a history of science possible.v He looked at the relationship between philosophy and scientific production, which he located at the level of its operational form, to be distinguished from and connected with "the social distribution of scientific forces. "49 Pierre Raymond also tried to do what Michel Fichant had tried to do in 1969: construct a history of science that asked the initial question of scientific production: "This is exactly what a history of science should do: understand the social distribution of productive scientificforces and the (philosophical) relations of production." 50 In Althusserian fashion, Pierre Raymond divided his mathematical object in half for purely functional reasons. He distinguished one level that played a theoretical role-mathematics-and one that represented reality-the mathematized-whose boundaries are constantly shifting. This split was to make it possible to renew the historical approach to mathematized objects and open mathematiza-tion to history. A whole perspective based on the efficacy of the break thus generated fruitful epistemological work thanks to Althusserian thinking.

A Desire for Totalization

In the early seventies, all the social sciences seemed to be adopting AI-thusserian discourse, which seemed to finally make it possible to consolidate all disciplines and all related fields of knowledge around a single theoretical will leading to a possible conceptual totalization. This analytical grid could address the diversity of reality rather than its usual compartmentalized pieces.

Tel Quel gave clear signs that it was adopting the Althusserian grid. At the end of 1968, the review had proposed, as we have already seen, to construct a "set theory." Rather than arbitrarily separating two genres-the novel and poetry-Marcelin Pleynet had suggested a new approach that drew its inspiration largely from the three "generalities" laid out by Althusser: "Generality I (abstract) language; Generality 11 (theory) archiwriting; Generality III (product of work), the text."51 The Tel Que! dialectizing of theory and practice did not mean reducing one term to another, but defining theory, which Althusser defined as a specific form of practice, an approach making it possible to augur a new science of writing. "The text is both a process of transformation overdetermined by scriptural economy and, according to Althusser's formula, a 'structure of multiple and unequal contradictions."'52

The review Litterature was also profoundly influenced by Althus-serian positions. When it came time to consider the two blind spots of structuralism in a 1974 issue devoted to the topic "History/Subject," Daniele Sallenave defined the rules for comments, which fundamentally followed Lacanian and Althusserian lines. In examining the way the conceptual triad of formalism, Marxism, and psychoanalysis worked in literary analysis, she considered literature to be an ideological object. As a result, all three approaches were necessary in order to confer a status of scientificity on it. "When historical materialism (HM) and the analysis of formations of the unconscious (AFU) became part of the theory of literary forms, we could theoretically consider the question of reality and of the subject."53 Dialectical and historical materialism were the very foundation of a general theory as a theory of the production of the symbolic, the condition for including artistic practices within "the symbolizing mode."54 Using Althusser's terms, Sallenave adapted his notion of Marxist ideas of a historical time preceding the subject, a subjectless process necessary for a materialist orientation.

This concern for totalization also won over a certain number-although fewer-of historians. Regine Robin, a historian who was open to interdisciplinary dialogues with linguistics, recalls her enthusiasm of the mid-sixties when, as a young teacher in a Dijon high school, she read Althusser's articles. "I had the feeling that something new was happening and that we could not only take Marxism seriously, but we could also imagine its conceptualization."55 Rare were the historians willing to engage in this perilous adventure; their training made them uncomfortable with the theory and high degree of abstraction used by the Althusserians. This was by definition a complex and hybrid field and Althusser's conceptual grid required sacrificing whole areas of reality to theoretical validity. "We historians were viewed as bad subjects because we always criticized the incompleteness of the concepts." 56 It was, of course, true that Pierre Vilar, professor at the ENS at Ulm, was professionally and personally close to Althusser and shared his belief in a rigorous Marxism. In fact, as a historian,Vilar was invited to speak in Althusser's seminar. But these relationships did not go much further than a critical dialogue with certain of Althusser's ideas that Pierre Vilar engaged in in the paper he wrote for Pierre Nora's Doing HistoryP Above all, there were two incommensurable points of view-that of the historian and that of the philosopher.

The desire to totalize was also palpable in the group that in 1973 created the review DialectiquesP The project was born immediately after May '68 at Saint-Cloud, where a small group of ENS students met, among them Pierre jacob, David Kaisergruber, and Marc Abeles, all of whom belonged to all the PCF at the time. The party leadership opposed the journal and summoned them to a meeting with the Political Bureau to explain their position in it. "Just because we had published an article by Desanti on mathematics in Hegel. It had nothing whatsoever to do with politics, but since Desanti had been a party ideologue, they were worried."59 The founding group was influenced both by Jean-Toussaint Desanti and his desire to concretely explore the different areas of science, and by Althusser and his determination to totalize and articulate different levels of knowledge. The journal's originality lay in its high degree of conceptualization, its militant independence, and its refusal to ally itself with any other views. Immediately successful and, without any editorial funding, it created an efficient distribution network that sold more than ten thousand copies. Claudine Normand, the linguist, was one of the occasional contributors. She had discovered Althusser in the 1960s: all of her work on the Saussurean break sought to verify Althusser's hypothesis of a rupture applied to linguistics. Regine Robin also contributed regularly as a historian/linguist, often from an Althusserian perspective.

Thanks to this theoretical energy, Althusser seemed to be in a position to confederate the social sciences-the hard core of scientificity by virtue of his capacity to link structuralism and Marxism. But this triumphant period would be as ephemeral as it was exciting, for the multiplication of contradictions, the substitution of a complex combination of institutions for the binary game of the dialectic quickly limited the explanatory powers of the Marxist framework, however enriched by Althusser.


The Althusserian Grid: A Bust

One of the contradictory effects of May '68 was that Althusser's ideas were doing well while the Althusserians were not. They were, in fact, quite aware that events came up against their explanatory framework and that they had to reorient their research toward praxis and concrete reality in order to test its potential. So Althusser undertook a long process of rectification, a self-criticism.


In I968, on the occasion of a new edition of Reading Capital in the Maspero Paperback Collection (PCM), Althusser took his critical distance from what he called his "clear theorist tendency" in his relationship to philosophy.' He saw this theoreticism in the exaggerated rapprochement between Marxism, revisited around the notion of break, and structuralism, to be a source of confusion. "The terminology we used was too close, in a number of ways, to 'structuralist' terminology and thus has created misunderstanding."2

What was for the moment still a discreet gesture of taking his distance from a recently celebrated structuralism quickly became the major aspect of an authorized self-criticism, as the title of Althusser's I974 book, Elements of a Self-Criticism,3 showed. It was a question of a true deviation, then, and not just a simple isolated error. We know that for Marxists, the term "deviation" connoted an unpardonable sin requiring self-flagellation. The theoricist deviation had the effect of presenting the famous break in terms of an opposition "between Science and Ideology,"! a scenario that placed the issues on strictly rational grounds, opposing ideology in the role of error, and Marxist science in the role of truth. This position implied conceiving of philosophical and political problematization in the same way as the history of science did, and what it borrowed from Bachelard was no longer solely metaphorical, but heuristic. This error in perspective was ostensibly incarnated in three figures: a theory of the difference between science and ideology, as general terms, the concept of theoretical practice, and finally, the notion that the theory of theoretical practice occurred in philosophy. Althusser returned to his reading of Capital and declared: "Our 'flirtation' with structuralist terminology certainly went beyond acceptable limits."!

When Althusser simply incriminated the language used in the mid-sixties, he was clearly underemphasizing what was in fact part of an entirely conscious strategy of consolidating different fields of knowledge around a common institutional and theoretical objective. In 1974, he saw structuralism as a particularly French philosophy and philosophical ideology of scholars: the general tendency of structuralism defined this current of thinking as "rational, mechanical, but above all formal."6 And he saw no relation between the elimination of concrete realities that the structuralist idea/ideal of producing reality from a combination of any given elements assumed, and Marxism, where concepts were defined as abstractions but still sought to elucidate social reality in its most concrete manifestations. Marx "is not a structuralist because he is not a formalist."?

But we know that such an appreciation was ill-founded. Structuralism, at least in its Levi-Straussian incarnation, was never a formalism. Levi-Strauss's criticism of Vladimir Propp in fact confirmed the necessary distinction between these two currents, which Althusser deliberately confused. He simplified structuralism, and missed its point. Above all, he wanted to devalue a paradigm that could no longer unify the social sciences, and pardon himself for ever having been a structuralist: "Although we have not been structuralists, ... we have been guilty of an equally strong and compromising passion: we have been Spinzoists."8

A year before this self-criticism, in 1973, on the occasion of his polemic with the English Marxist John Lewis, Althusser had already recognized his theoretical deviation, but he had nonetheless staunchly maintained his hostility to what was known as bourgeois humanism. In its place, he proposed the theoretical antihumanism of the mature Marx. "History is a process, a subjectless process,"? an idea he had already announced in 1968.10 But Althusser nevertheless recognized that he had to make his self-criticism on one essential point, namely, the epistemological break in Marx's work, according to which Hegel's philosophical categories of alienation, and of the negation of the negation, were to have completely disappeared following the break, in favor of specifically scientific categories. J. Lewis answered that this was false. And he was right."l1 His blindness could be explained by his avowedly mistaken theoricist deviation wherein he had assimilated Marx's philosophical revolution to the type of revolution occurring in science, which meant a real epistemological break. "I therefore conceived philosophy on the model of 'Science."'12

Beyond this self-critical aspect, the Answer to John Lewis was a major political event. Emmanuel Terray celebrated it as such for he considered that it put into practice the idea of the great philosophers that philosophy was a matter of theoretically doing politics. The book quite clearly met a real expectation. It sold twenty-five thousand copies, an altogether exceptional sales figure for a book of this type. So philosophy was essentially political, and fundamentally based on furthering political work by other means. Althusser "spoke" openly of politics. His remarks bore on a problem whose solution was in many ways decisive for the future of the French and international workers' movement: how to go forward with a Marxist analysis of the Stalinist period?13 He attacked the partial, official explanation of the errors of Stalinism that Khrushchev gave at the tribunal of the Twentieth Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Errors had been made out to be simply the result of the cult of personality, a purely legal and humanist explanation running in tandem with the economism being applied in the USSRduring and after Stalin.

Althusser saw in both Stalinism and the deviation that it represented "something like a form of the posthumous revenge of the Second International, a resurgence of its principal tendency,">' incarnated in the double and complementary figures of humanism and economism. He contrasted the category of "a subjectless trial without End," which could also take the form of a "trial with neither Subject nor Object,"15 and considered that the category of subject simply belonged to bourgeois philosophy and was invented quite specifically for ideological domination. This position of negating the subject has more than one terminological affinity with structuralism, in addition to the not inconsiderable paradigmatic resemblances.

The process of self-criticism had only just begun. In 1976, Etienne Balibar learned of an unpublished text that Althusser gave him. At this point, he realized that Althusser was moved by an unspeakable force pushing him to undo and destroy everything he had built up to that point, and to go so far as to remain immured in silence. Althusser confided to Balibar in August 1980: "I will not kill myself, I will do worse. I will destroy what I have done, what I am for others and for myself."16 Balibar tried to explain this increasingly profound destructive mechanism in several ways. There were reasons of a psychological nature: it was known that Althusser's health was psychologically fragile. Indeed, he had never spent a single academic year teaching at VIm without a long stay in a psychiatric hospital. There were also political reasons having to do with the combined crisis of Marxism, the PCF, and the Communist world in general, which Althusser had vainly tried to resolve. Balibar proposed another quite interesting explanation involving deconstruction, showing how Althusser deconstructed his own philosophical system by the nature of the ideas he put forward. "What Althusser had to say could only be expressed in terms of a denial, a discourse coupled after the fact with its own annulment. In a word, he needed to put into practice what Heidegger and Derrida described in theory: the contradictory unity, in time, of words and their erasure."1? Balibar emphasized how much Althusser's ideas were already self-critical because they contained their proper negation, which was the case, for example, of the notion of theoretical antihumanism. Althusser's basic project was to construct a science that avoided ideology and implied the ever possible return of repressed ideology in the very realm of science. So there was no possible respite to this internal conflict of a science that had to be promoted, but that also contained within it, nonscience, its own disappearing, its own erasure.

Althusser's Lesson

Athusser's self-criticism left one of the authors of Reading Capital unsatisfied. In 1974, jacques Ranciere published Althusser's Lessonn in which he radically repudiated the teaching of the master. Ranciere's contribution in 1965 to Reading Capital, along with those of Roger Establet and Pierre Macherey, had been eliminated from the 1968

reprint in PCM. Given the book's success, Maspero decided to reprint the complete collection of papers in 1973. Ranciere learned of the project and was invited to rework his text, "The Concept of Critique and the Critique of Political Economy: From the 1844 Manuscripts to Capital." But he neither could nor wanted to simply make small changes because 1968 had in fact made him quite critical of AI-thusser's positions. The break was consummated in 1968-69 when Vincennes was created, where Ranciere taught in the philosophy department. At that point, he unleashed a bitter criticism of his past compromises in the name of Maoist fidelity, and compared the dynamics of the "Cultural Revolution" to the restoration of an episte-mological academicism, even ifit was Althusserian.

Having felt that his paper had been solicited in 1973 merely to give the impression that the positions of the 1965 group had remained intact, Ranciere offered to preface his piece with a long explanation, both recontextualizing his 1965 positions and describing his critical distance in 1973. "I had the impression that something was starting up again as ifnothing had happened and that I had to make it clear that I had some reservations with respect to this return to the Al-thusserian discourse. But my text was censored."19 The editor finally decided in 1975 to reprint Reading Capital without making any changes, abiding by the contractual terms of 1965.20

Ranciere reacted in two ways. In 1973, in Les Temps modernes, he published the preface that Maspero had refused to print." In 1974, he published Althusser's Lesson. His balance sheet of Althusser's work as very negative, and its originality, lay in the fact that he was one of the earliest and most intimate of the initial Althusserians.

As an instrument for interpreting societies and historical movements, Althusserianism has produced nothing of interest. ... It has been more a facade for the poverty of the ideas than an enrichment and has truly stifled what has existed since the beginning of the century in Marxist thinking in Germany, Italy, England, and the United States. All of that vanished, leaving only the great authors, the peF, and us, in other words, a drastically provincial notion.v

When Ranciere wrote his book, Althusser's self-criticism had not yet been published, but when it did come out, it did not satisfy Ranciere, who thought that it was all show, designed to respond to the increasingly numerous criticisms in order to allow virtually unmodified neo-Althusserian work to continue.

Ranciere's criticism was radical, going from rupture to rejection. "Althusserianism died on the barricades of May '68 along with a good number of other ideas from the past. "23 Of course, he acknowledged that Althusserianism had had a subjectively positive effect on an entire generation by getting certain disciplines going and into communication with one another. It was, after all, around Althusser that the attempt at synthesizing a critique of canonical disciplines and a new relationship to politics had taken shape. But Ranciere remained quite critical of negating all thinking about the subject, which the Althusserians portrayed as a scarecrow. "We have been hearing about the subject's descent to hell for quite some time now. "24 He recalled that in 1973, the entire university had loudly called for the subject's eradication. "As for man, there is not a hypokhagne student today who would not blush for referring to him in his papers. "25 The other angle, buoyed up by the Maoist positions of the moment, amounted to recalling the basis of the dialectic: the One divides into Two. And Althusser was criticized for having embraced/betrayed Durkheimian sociology when he presented ideology as a phenomenon in itself, an immutable and ahistorical given, invariable, whereas Ranciere considered that any ideology is caught up in class issues and can only be perceived as class ideology.

Their differences had to do with Althusser's theory of ideology more than with accusations of co-optation or antileft offensives to defend the PCF apparatus and academic wisdom. "Ideology, for Althusser, could well have the status that the state is accorded in classical metaphysical thinking. . . . As a result, ideology will not be posited as the site of division but as a unified whole with respect to its referent (all of social reality.)"26 Althusser brought the two together, and with a certain sleight of hand, made the concept of contradiction disappear. Ranciere saw this at the time as nothing other than classical revisionism. Similarly, the fundamental notion of relations of production was ontologized and "appeared to be withdrawn in a beyond of structure. "27

The break between Ranciere and Althusser was radical. And when Terray, in Le Monde, lauded the merits of Answer to John Lewis, considered to be a veritable political bombshell, Ranciere responded, also in Le Monde, that Althusser set forth the limits of the new orthodoxy, reconcilable with the PCF apparatus.s" He rejected what he considered to be "an attempt to plaster over and assimilate what has happened in the meantime, half-confessions that allowed people to continue to believe that we are saying the same things."29 This break provoked an explosion of media shock waves because it was clearly a symptom of the crises which, since 1968, had been affecting Althus-serianism, despite the enthusiasm it had engendered in other areas. Obviously, Althusser perceived and lived the whole experience quite badly, as did those close to him, while nonetheless considering that Ranciere's book was "brilliant."30

Today, Etienne Balibar sees this book as expressing a context, that of the Maoists who explained in their newspaper, La Cause du peuple, that the bourgeoisie was on the verge of collapse, that power was up for grabs, and that the PCF was the only bulwark keeping the bourgeoisie in power. Since, according to those who called themselves Marxist-Leninists, the workers could not help but love Mao, there had to be someone within the PCF who was a Maoist and who had deceived the working class. That person could only be Althusser, presented as the writer and the great manipulator. "Yet Ranciere was completely lucid about interpreting Althusser's formulas backwards including, for example, that of 'theoretical practice,' which is a way of explaining that theory is itself practice, without having to grant theory absolute privilege, contrary to what he had said."31 Pierre Macherey was even more emotionally affected by what he thought was a "renunciation in the sense of the Evangelists, a religious act asking to be forgiven for one's errors.... It was the principle of the thing that deeply revolted me."32

Sharpshooters Take Aim at Althusser

The mid-seventies reacted to a return in force of the Althusserians with a veritable group attack. Criticism came from every political and theoretical direction. Pierre Fougeyrollas, a Marxist sociologist and former contributor to Arguments, published a highly polemical work, Against Leui-Strauss, Lacan, and Althusser.33 After having spent ten years from 1961 to 1971 outside of France, at the University of Dakar, he found that he was rather removed from the reigning excitement in Paris when he returned, even if he had kept up with what was being published. Louis-Vincent Thomas asked him to be on a thesis committee at Paris V. "Althusserianism was the first shock. All the candidates were talking about the three institutions and about symptomatic reading.... There was an enormous gap between what they were saying and what I thought about Marxism! So I had an initial reaction against Althusserianism. "34 For Fougeyrollas, Althusserianism was a direct result of the Twentieth Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, within the strictly established and narrow limits of a critique of dogmatism that made no waves in the party apparatus, an approach that led to a return to the sources and to the founding fathers, Lenin and Marx. Given the context, Althusserian-ism played the role of an ideological euphoria or of a "speculative soothing."35 Fougeyrollas attacked Althusserian idealism for shifting Marxism from praxis to theory, and in so doing, changing the Marxist perspective of changing the world into changing philosophy. Moreover, he pointed out the borrowed ideas from the various human sciences and, more particularly, from psychoanalysis, which meant that Marxism had become a variant of structuralism, by substituting "a kind of structural topos"36 for dialectics. Institutional interplay had replaced the historical dialectic, making it necessary to borrow the notion of overdetermination from psychoanalysis. Looking at practice as theoretical practice led to being enclosed within the discursive realm and to reading it symptomatically.

When the Answer to John Lewis came out, Daniel Bensaid, a leader of the Communist League, which had just been dissolved by the government in 1973, made a vitriolic attack against Althusser. Ben-said was particularly critical of the notion of Stalinist "deviation," which Althusser defined in a far too timid manner. "In fact, Althusser has all the tricks of a charlatan, the magical abracadabra of a sham scholar. He pretends to flyover history, whereas he is pitifully clinging to its tail." 37 Bensaid concluded that arguing that the basis of the Stalinist "deviation" was purely theoretical, meaning that it began with the influence of economism at the Second International, made it possible to easily eliminate forty years of history of the workers' movement. Since the enemy was no more than a paper tiger or a simple rhetorical figure (the economism-humanism duo), simply correcting the Stalinist "deviation" was enough to get things back on track.

Criticism ran high among Marxist and Trotskyist revolutionaries, even as, in 1976, the PCF seemed to crown Althusser by publishing him in its Editions Sociales. Already in 1970, after the 1969 publication of book I of Capital by Gamier-Flammarion, with a Foreword by Althusser, Ernest Mandel, a Marxist economist and member of the Belgian section of the Fourth International, had published a long study on the way in which "Althusser corrects Marx."38 Beyond some pedagogical advice that Mandel thought useful, the rest had to do with what he perceived to be an erroneous analysis of Marx's intentions and concepts.

Michael Lowy answered Althusser on philosophical grounds, by defending Marx's humanism. "That humanism before Marx was abstract, bourgeois, and so on, in no way means that we should renounce all humanism."39 If Lowy already considered that the anti-humanist argument in the reading of the mature Marx of The German Ideology or of The Eighteenth Brumaire was baseless, the same was true for the Marx of Capital, which Althusser had, however, elevated to the status of a scientific paradise. Lowy saw the three moments of Marxist humanism unfolding in Capital, like an unveiling of the relationship among men behind the reified categories of a capitalist economy, in the criticism of the inhumanity of capitalism, and finally, in the vision of a socialist society wherein humankind could rationally dominate the forces of production. In his definition of the two major concepts-the productive forces and the relation of production-Marx still used the notion of humanity. Relations of production were analyzed as "social relationships determined among men, but that took on the phantasmagoric form of a relationship among things. "40 In the second place, Lowy refused to separate Marx from ethical considerations and from a moral ambition in his criticism of capitalism. So there were two risks, so far as he could see: seeing Capital as nothing more than an "ethical outcry against capitalism (a tendency represented by M. Rubel),"41 and the denial of any moral dimension in order to see Capital as a strictly scientific work. "The question raised is the following: in the name of which moral values did Marx criticize capitalism?"42 With respect to the socialist future, the issue was not to perpetuate the idea of an eternal man or a transhistorical essence, but rather to establish a new man. In this respect, Marxism truly belonged to the humanist family, even if it was not a classical humanism.

Reflecting another school of thought, that of the review Esprit, which was constantly engaged in a debate with structuralist thinking, and always in articles that reflected sophisticated theoretical arguments, Jean-Marie Domenach responded to Althusser's Answer to John Lewis in 1974 in an article evocatively titled "Marxism in a Void. "43 He saw Althusser as defending a scholasticism that, because it did not correspond to reality, found an escape in abstract theory, the notion of break, and the absence of a subject, in order to avoid possible contradictions that simple observations of empirical reality might raise.

Domenach saw in Althusser's reading of Marx a structuralist re-interpretation of Marx, and not a simple borrowing of vocabulary. "In fact, what counted here was no longer Marx but Althusser's idea of Marx through a certain structuralism. "44 Domenach challenged the view of Marx's theoretical antihumanism: "Marx took man as his starting point was moving toward an idea of man. To be sure, it was not a question of an abstract essence of humanity such as certain liberal thinkers had distilled, but rather of a 'generic' man understood in the conditions of his existence. "45 In such a hermetic determinist approach, Domenach wondered what became of the masses, caught in the gears of the inexorable wheels of the enormous structural machine, with a role apparently limited to a cameo appearance. His criticism of Althusser coincided with Levi-Strauss's more general criticism in 1963, and later, in 1968, that of Foucault, by invoking the place and status of liberty in the limited realm of necessity. Of course, AI-thusser had managed to preserve his doctrine for a time insofar as it "could be preserved in a vacuum, but what happens to praxis?"46

By complexifying Marx's work, paying the price of a system of rigorous, synthetic thinking that wanted to totalize, Althusser managed to stave off Marxism's decline-a random spark at the turn of a century in which Marxism was to lose itself in its fatal destiny, in the tragedy of totalitarianism. In this context, Althusser's effort was fated to be carried off by the undercurrent of the waning of Marxism, which was to return and strike theory in a kind of boomerang effect even before having spent itself in eliminating a particular future for those societies that proclaimed its principles.

Althusser's undertaking was the most ambitious and totalizing in the gamut of speculative structuralism. Its implosion did not yet affect structuralist research in other more specific areas, particularly in the textual sciences. Moreover, philosophically, this implosion prepared the way for a historicized structuralism, incarnated by Michel Foucault, among others.