Derrida’s Of Grammatology : (Hi)stories of Writing



Derrida’s Of Grammatology : (Hi)stories of Writing

Let us track and trap Derrida right before he went down the rabbit hole. The Algerian-born French Philosopher Jacques Derrida (1930-2004), leader of the era of Post-Structuralism and father of the concept-method of deconstruction, marked the history of books with a big bang : 1967. Within one year, he would place himself on the map of philosophy, literary criticism and related fields through three remarked publications. Writing and Difference compiles essays and papers developed and presented from 1962 onwards, where Derrida demonstrates the scope of his models and inspirations across traditions, his mastery and creative re-interpretation of their thoughts, and he suggests subtly the grand lines that will constitute the difference and novelty of his thought. In the short Speech and Phenomena, Derrida looks more closely at Husserl, still one of his closest influences, and further elaborates a central critique that will lead to his formulation of the terms of deconstruction and différance.

But the 1967 of Derrida is perhaps best remembered for the classic Of Grammatology, his first grand treatise. The text elaborates a critical reading of de Saussure, Levi-Strauss and Rousseau to formulate what will be no less than a little revolution in the way western culture has considered the written vis-a-vis the spoken, and the underlying metaphysical assumptions behind this relation. The book also compiles with a remarkable density a critical review of centuries of theoretical speculations on writing, its origin and its function, from the fields of linguistics, history and anthropology. The prose of this treatise is still generally theoretical and broadly accessible, before Derrida would decide to do his big dive, trusting his literary style to go down the free play. This course offers to undertake a close reading of Of Grammatology in order to build strong foundations for anyone tempted to explore Derrida further.

Biographical elements from Derrida : A Biography by Benoit Peeters will be discussed alongside the direct study of Derrida’s texts. Mentions of Writing and Difference, with recommended reading portions, will also be provided.

How this course works

The participants and the instructor meet on the decided weekly timing via a group Skype, for a session of textual analysis of a few selected passages from the chapters covered that week. Through this method, the guide offers at once the keys to participants to enter and further explore the texts on their own, and a personal reading rich with originality and creative potential. As Samuel is a French native, the excerpts analysed will also be read in the French original, with considerations on language particularities and translation. Participative responses are encouraged across the session, during the exercise of textual analysis by the instructor and through the open discussion.

In the course of the second month of this course, the study of Of Grammatology is complemented with CineWords, our participative exchanges of movie interpretation, based on Arrival (D. Villeneuve, 2016) (more details here), selected by the guide in relation to the course. This participative session takes place through a group Skype.

Finally, also during the second month of this course, the group connects for a live Questions & Answers session with the instructor. The session is optional, and based on the questions of the participants.

Term Course

Duration : 8 weekly sessions of 90 minutes each
Dates and Times : decided with the participants
Modality : Skype Videoconference
Open to : All · No pre-requisites

At IST, a new edition of each course is organised upon 3 confirmed participants


Of Grammatology

1967 (French Edition)
1974 (English Translation)


Derrida : A Biography

By Benoit Peeters
2010 (French Edition)
2013 (English Translation)

Writing and Difference

1967 (French Edition)
1978 (English Translation)


The session dates for the next edition of this course will be set
based on the common availability of the registrants.

Session 1

Introduction to the course, to Of Grammatology and to Derrida’s work and thought.

Textual Analyses and Discussions of excerpts from :

Gayatri Spivak’s Translator’s Preface (79)

Session 2

Textual Analyses and Discussions of excerpts from :


Preface (1)

Part I : Writing Before the Letter
Ch. 1 : The End of the Book and the Beginning of Writing (26)


Session 3

Textual Analyses and Discussions of excerpts from :

Part I : Writing Before the Letter
Ch. 2 : Linguistics and Grammatology (48)

Session 4

Textual Analyses and Discussions of excerpts from :

Part I : Writing Before the Letter
Ch. 3 : Of Grammatology as a Positive Science (20)

Session 5

Textual Analyses and Discussions of excerpts from :

Part II : Nature, Culture, Writing
Introduction to the “Age of Rousseau” (3)
Ch. 1 : The Violence of the Letter : From Lévi-Strauss to Rousseau (39)

Session 6

Textual Analyses and Discussions of excerpts from :

Part II : Nature, Culture, Writing
Ch. 2 : “… That Dangerous Supplement…” (23)

Session 7

Textual Analyses and Discussions of excerpts from :

Part II : Nature, Culture, Writing
Ch. 3 : Genesis and Structure of the Essay on the Origin of Languages (103)

Session 8

Textual Analyses and Discussions of excerpts from :

Part II : Nature, Culture, WritingCh. 4 : From/Of the Supplement to the Source : The Theory of Writing (47)


Participative discussion on the following film, with open interpretations and cross-analyses with the text of the course.

Arrival (D. Villeneuve, 2016) (details)

The participants will be shared the link to watch the movie online. They are expected to join the discussion after having watched the movie on their own.

Questions & Answers

Questions & Answers session.

Open discussions based on the remaining questions of the participants.


Samuel Buchoul

Samuel Buchoul

Instructor & Coordinator

Experience with the Texts of this Course : 4 years +

Stumble on a pebble. An uninvited intruder crosses one’s life path. My intellectual quest had been long, before I found my almost-contemporary. Derrida had found the words for my intimate intuition, the permanent gut feeling ; Derrida had nailed it for me : the thinker’s comfort zone. Philosophers and their language, the obsession of Derrida, that special voice of the written which thinkers always claimed only to be a channel for their ethereal ideas. Derrida’s theory would thus become a method to always keep a check on all thinkers, their loud promises and their actual performances on the ground. But Derrida is also an artist of words, a creator of ideas and languages. And the good poet can only challenge his creativity to the best when he internalises the restrictions of the verse. So Derrida, through his many commentaries, would also offer me a new standard for creative writing, where his life-long meditation on the written dimension of philosophy gave rise to an empowered style, the realisation that playing with thoughts is playing with words, languages and their constraints, new enlarged playground for the many duties of philosophy. A wink at 1967 and his early deconstructions of fundamental binaries, Derrida will have finally made his point by setting the example, his oeuvre : philosophy celebrated through its word, thought and formulation pushed towards one another, becoming mutual ideals : the dream of the asymptote, word and idea, finally undistinguishable. 

Samuel Buchoul is the founder and coordinator of IST.
Discover his courses and blogs here.



The financial contribution is open
beyond a minimum amount of

59.00 $

or the equivalent in your local currency
Check the conversion rates here

8 Sessions of Textual Analysis
1 CineWords Discussion
1 Questions and Answers session
Reading Material in soft copy
Instructor’s Notes for each session
HD Audio Recordings of the sessions


A new edition of this course will be organised
upon 3 confirmed registrations