In this article the author explores how the problem of the seminar enters into the work of Jacques Derrida. He shows how it emerges not only within the context of the teaching institution but also as a conceptual thematic with a history far in excess of the educational institutions of France. As early as 1968 and as late as 2003, the word, concept, figure, and institution of “the seminar” was one that Derrida worked to define and problematize. The author thus asks how Derrida’s autobiographical relationship with the institution of the seminar both influenced and was influenced by what one might call the philosophical problem of the seminar. As Derrida points out on a number of occasions, the seminar is not a neutral space. Indeed, it is a particularly ambivalent one, as early discussions of it in “Plato’s Pharmacy” and Clang show. In appropriating the form, not only for his teaching but also as a problematic of the seminars that he gave, the author argues that Derrida precisely embraced the ambivalence of a space at once caught up in the politics of reproduction, hegemony, and tradition and, to that very extent, the site of a potential “event.”

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