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Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages and Linguistics


Samuel Buchoul

College: Hughes Hall


Supervisor: Prof. Ian James

Research Topic: ‘Techniques of writing, techniques of living: towards existential grammatology, with and after Derrida’


Samuel Buchoul has been invested in teaching and research for over a decade. He taught Philosophy, as a certifié instructor, in French secondary education, from 2018 to 2023. His pedagogy integrated principles and values borrowed from grammatology and existential philosophy, with a special focus on the performative self-assertion of each student through writing practices, for instance in response to an extended corpus of films. Prior to that, he founded several initiatives of open education in philosophy, literature and the social sciences, in India, in France and online - they include the Institute for the Study of Texts, and the Atelier des Pratiques Théoriques. Samuel spent eight years in India, completing two Masters of Arts (Buddhist Studies, Delhi University, 2012, and Philosophy, Manipal University, 2014), and he was a part of several cultural projects and institutions, as editor, columnist, photographer and web designer. His M.A. thesis in Philosophy attempted a creative reinterpretation of Derrida and Levinas to formulate a new metaphysics of foreignness. Alongside over a hundred other texts from that period, it is available on his publication website,


Samuel’s doctoral research explores two major traditions of 20th c. French thought: existential philosophy and grammatology. This double focus permits to reassess each one through the core principles and ultimate ambitions of the other. This approach goes against the grain of the still prevalent view that post-structuralist thought was based on a founding rejection of Sartre, and rests upon the alternative reading of the latter as a precursor of the ‘deconstruction of the subject’, as defended by critics such as Christina Howells, Bruce Baugh or Steve Martinot.

Beyond the comparative dimension, this research aims at anchoring their dialogue on one concept: writing, understood primarily in its practical dimension. In other words, Samuel tries to establish whether the practice of writing, as reconceptualised by Derrida, may play a special, or perhaps even an essential role, in our condition as existential beings - i.e., as beings who experience finite time, angst, the necessity to create meaning, the challenges of subjectivity, agency, freedom, engagement, authenticity, responsibility, etc. This grounding on a certain ‘phenomenology of writing’ allows to consider an even more organic integration of these traditions: Could writing as a practice constitute the practical entry, the unveiling performance of our condition as agential subjects? If such proves fruitful, this may open to the formulation of an ‘existential grammatology’, a manner of living one’s life enlightened by the lessons learnt through one cardinal practice, writing.

While apparently centred in a restricted milieu - whose specific cultural, historical and political context we shall interrogate - the attempt at this inter-textual dialogue soon becomes a prism to rethink some of the key problems at the heart of modern philosophy. The implications of Kant and especially Hegel’s metaphysics and epistemology (criticism, transcendental idealism, the dialectic) on their transformation of the philosophy of the subject (the ‘unhappy consciousness’, recognition and inter-subjectivity) are further highlighted through their encounter, already in their works, with the question of agency in a technological context (work, externalisation, poiesis). Our study further builds upon specific contributions from figures more classically associated with the philosophies of existence: Kierkegaard (the reprise), Nietzsche (perspectivism, the Eternal Return, Amor Fati), and finally through the early contestation of presence in Phenomenology - first within the process of consciousness itself (Husserl’s retention and protention), and then ‘outside’ it, within the lebenswelt (Heidegger’s Zeug or equipment).

Thus, while it hopes to provide some answers to the timeless demands of the philosophy of action and creativity (agency, empowerment), this existential study of writing is also a foray, as Derrida revealed, into a new understanding of the technological environment that makes us humans as a whole - and to do so beyond the language and methods of philosophy, too. Derrida’s own ‘materialistic’ lineage, spanning from Leroi-Gourhan and Simondon, to Ong, Goody and Stiegler, will lead us to further concluding hypotheses pertaining to the field of paleo-anthropology, as to the role early writing technologies may have played in the emergence of the existential condition in our species.



  • Pigott Studentship and Cambridge Trust Scholarship, University of Cambridge (2023-2026)
  • Odette de Mourgues fund, travel grant (2024)
  • Raymund Schwager, S.J., Memorial Award, graduate essay competition, COV&R Conference, Tokyo, Japan (2012)
  • Annual International Conference of the Colloquium on Violence and Religion (COV&R), travel grant, COV&R Conference, Tokyo, Japan (2012)
  • Summer School Mimetic Theory Scholarship, travel grant, Leusden, Holland (2012)
  • ICCR (Indian Council for Cultural Relations)Orientation Grant, independent research scholarship, Delhi, India (2012)



- Monograph -

  • La gêne d’être au monde. En découvrant l’existence avec La Grande Bellezza (forthcoming)


- Chapter in edited volumes -

  • ‘Homo Scribens : vers une bio-graphie qui ne recherche plus rien,’ in the proceedings of the ‘Plus d’une discipline : actualité de La vie la mort’ conference (Paris 8 Université, 2021), Éditions Hermann, forthcoming (2024).


- Articles (Journals) -

  • ‘Around Our Corner: Terror Attacks and Hindu Cosmology,’ Cahiers de la Fondation: Indialogues (India-Europe Foundation for New Dialogues), vol. 8, no. 3, 2015, pp. 8-11.
  • ‘Inflecting the Foreigner’s Discourse (or: why we need unnecessary stories),’ Cahiers de la Fondation: Indialogues, vol. 5, no. 3, 2014, pp. 14-16.
  • ‘The Non-Self of Girard,’ Contagion: Journal of Violence, Mimesis, and Culture, vol. 20, no. 1, 2013, pp. 101-116.


- Online articles -

  • ‘De l’Infini: a Foreigner’s Metaphysics,’ Samvriti, 2014
  • ‘After Anatta: Towards a Girardian Ethics,’ Samvriti, 2013
  • ‘Phenomenologies of Time: Husserl, Heidegger and Levinas,’ Samvriti, 2013
  • ‘Behind the Glim: the ‘Enlightenment era’ as seen from India,’ Samvriti, 2013
  • ‘Levinas: For the Feminine Other,’ Samvriti, 2013
  • ‘Herodotus, First Orientalist?,’ Samvriti, 2013
  • ‘Two Frenchmen in the Orient: Flaubert and I,’ Samvriti, 2013
  • ‘An Ethics of Love: Levinas and the Experience of Romance,’ Samvriti, 2013
  • ‘The Language of Foreignness,’ Samvriti, 2013
  • ‘Reason and the Senses: A Dialogue Between Buddhism and Christianity,’ Samvriti, 2012


- Short texts -

  • ‘Of pebbles, springs and fates (Rilke, determinism and creativity),’ Readers’ Break, 2019
  • ‘Love Stories (Derrida’s letters)’, IST Blog, 2017
  • ‘Empty Echoes (Derrida, Artaud and the body)’, IST Blog, 2017
  • ‘Writer-in-Progress’ (series on creativity, time and agency), Samvriti, 2016


Conference papers and invited talks

  • ‘Sartre meets Derrida: agency and writing as reprise’, FGRS Seminar, University of Cambridge (Cambridge, UK), 8 February 2024.
  • Homo Scribens : vers une bio-graphie qui ne recherche plus rien,’ Colloque ‘Plus d’une discipline : actualité de La vie la mort,’ Paris 8 Université (Paris, France), 9 October 2021.
  • ‘Derrida and Law,’ invited talk at the Law Center, Jawaharlal Nehru University (Delhi, India), 13 January 2016.
  • ‘Negation and Action: Buddhism, Agency and Creativity,’ Transcultural Encounters Forum’ workshop, at FIND (Rome, Italy), 13 November 2015.
  • ‘Derrida and (Art) Appreciation and Derrida and Art (Appreciation),’ two invited talks at the Department of Art History and Appreciation, Jamia Milia Islamia University (Delhi, India), 19 & 26 March 2015.
  • ‘The Scandalous Anchor: A Girardian Reading of Pornography,’ Annual Conference of the Colloquium on Violence and Religion, Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingoldstadt (Munich, Germany), 23 July 2014.
  • ‘From Anatta to Interdependence: Buddhist Philosophy and Mimetic Theory,’ Annual Conference of the Colloquium on Violence and Religion, International Christian University (Tokyo, Japan), 5 July 2012.



Professeur de Philosophie (2018-2023) - full time Philosophy teacher in high school (year 13) in France, to around 1000 students over five years. Fully autonomous course design on around 20 philosophical notions, for a total of 120 hours per class yearly (18 hours of teaching weekly). Also a 60-hour version of that course. Grading of the national philosophy exam (baccalauréat). Also taught the ‘Humanities’ course (year 12) and the ‘Moral and civil education’ courses (years 11-13).

Course instructor:

  • ‘Différer et disséminer : vers une pédagogie de la trace. Savoirs, institutions et métaphysique derridienne’ (ATP, 2020-21)
  • ‘Writing a Spiritual Autobiography: Augustine’s Confessions’ (IST, 2017-2018)
  • ‘Romantic Boredom, Boring Romances: Madame Bovary (Flaubert)’ (IST, 2017)
  • ‘Derrida’s Of Grammatology: (Hi)stories of Writing’ (IST, 2017)
  • ‘The Early Derrida: Down the Play’ (IST, 2017)

Public outreach programmes convenor and leader:

  • Readers’ Break - 99 public discussions on works of philosophy, literature and the social sciences (Delhi and online, 2015-2019)
  • Writing Derrida - 15 public discussion on texts of Jacques Derrida (Delhi, 2014-2016).

Personal websites