Hear Roland Barthes Present His 40-Hour Course, La Préparation du roman, in French (1978–80)

A key fig­ure in such aca­d­e­m­ic areas as semi­ol­o­gy, struc­tural­ism, and post-struc­tural­ism, and author of such the­o­ret­i­cal clas­sics as Mytholo­gies, The Plea­sure of the Text, and S/Z, Roland Barthes is famil­iar to stu­dents across the human­i­ties. His pro­lif­ic out­put encom­passed books on lit­er­ary the­o­ry, phi­los­o­phy, lin­guis­tics, anthro­pol­o­gy, and the­o­ret­i­cal essays on pho­tog­ra­phy, music, fash­ion, sports, and love. In addi­tion to his wide-rang­ing writ­ings, Barthes lec­tured in the U.S., Switzer­land, and at the Col­lège de France, where he was elect­ed Chair of Semi­ol­o­gy in 1977.

Barthes’ 1978–1980 lec­ture course at the Col­lège de France—titled The Prepa­ra­tion of the Nov­el—has been pre­served in an Eng­lish trans­la­tion by Kate Brig­gs. Speak­ers of French, how­ev­er, can hear Barthes him­self deliv­er the lec­ture series in audio archived at Ubuweb. Lis­ten to the first ses­sion from Decem­ber, 1978 at the top of the post, and hear the fifth, with some musi­cal accom­pa­ni­ment, above.

Deliv­ered short­ly after pub­li­ca­tion of the sem­i­nal texts men­tioned above, these lec­tures, writes edi­tor Nathalie Léger in her intro­duc­tion, “form a diptych—the two parts can be accessed inde­pen­dent­ly of each oth­er, yet each one is indis­pens­able to the oth­er.” The last two lec­ture cours­es Barthes taught at the Col­lège de France, both, Léger writes, rep­re­sent not a sys­tem­at­ic the­o­ry, but “the pere­gri­na­tion of a quest,” explor­ing “one ques­tion and one ques­tion only: that of lit­er­ary utopia.” Such prob­ing inves­ti­ga­tions pro­pelled Barthes’ entire career, and opened up new crit­i­cal paths for a great many thinkers who dared to trace his wind­ing intel­lec­tu­al steps and often intense­ly per­son­al explo­rations.

La Pré­pa­ra­tion du roman will be added to our list of Free Online Lit­er­a­ture Cours­es, part of our larg­er col­lec­tion, 1,700 Free Online Cours­es from Top Uni­ver­si­ties.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Hear Michel Fou­cault Deliv­er His Lec­ture on “Truth and Sub­jec­tiv­i­ty” at UC Berke­ley, In Eng­lish (1980)

Susan Son­tag Lec­tures On Lit­er­ary Pornog­ra­phy (1964)

Wal­ter Kaufmann’s Clas­sic Lec­tures on Niet­zsche, Kierkegaard and Sartre (1960)

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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