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Sylvère Lotringer Papers and Semiotext(e) Archive

Call Number



1960-2010, inclusive
; 1973-2000, bulk


Lotringer, Sylvère


106.5 Linear Feet
in 121 boxes

Language of Materials

Materials are in English.


The Sylvère Lotringer Papers and Semiotext(e) Archive includes correspondence, manuscripts, clippings, financial records, and audiovisual material associated with Lotringer's work as a literary critic and cultural theorist, and as the founder of the journal and independent press Semiotext(e).

Biographical Note

Sylvère Lotringer is a literary critic and cultural theorist. He is best known for founding the journal Semiotext(e), which is largely credited with introducing the work of French theorists like Jean Baudrillard, Gilles Deleuze,Paul Virilio, Felix Guattari, Michel Foucault and Jean-Francois Lyotard to an English-speaking audience.

Lotringer was born in Paris to Polish-Jewish immigrants. He spent the Nazi occupation of Paris as a "hidden child", later relocating with his family to Israel. He returned to Paris and studied at the Sorbonne, where he founded the literary magazine L'Etrave. In 1964, Lotringer entered the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes in Paris where he wrote his doctoral dissertation on Virginia Woolf's novels under the supervision of Roland Barthes and Lucien Goldmann. During this period he organized conferences at the Maison des Lettres of the Sorbonne where he forged connections with French literary critics, sociologists and writers as well as with the Bloomsbury Group in London (Leonard Woolf, T.S. Eliot, Vita Sackville-West, David Garnet, etc.) as a freelance writer for Louis Aragon's journal Les Lettres Francaises.

After teaching in Scotland, Turkey, Australia and the American Midwest, Lotringer joined the French and Comparative Literature Faculty at Columbia University in 1972, where he eventually became Professor Emeritus. In 1973, Lotringer founded the journal Semiotext(e) with a group of Columbia University graduate students. After three scholarly, bilingual issues on semiotics, Lotringer and his group organized the controversial "Schizo-Culture" conference in 1975 at Columbia University, which featured Felix Guattari, Michel Foucault, Gilles Deleuze, Jean-Francois Lyotard, Ronald D. Laing, Ti-Grace Atkinson, John Cage and William Burroughs, among others. In 1978, Lotringer staged "The Nova Convention", a large event that gathered in downtown New York most of the American counter-culture (from Patti Smith and Timothy Leary to Franz Zappa, Laurie Anderson and Allen Ginsberg) as an homage to William S. Burroughs.

Subsequent issues of Semiotext(e) moved away from the original scholarly format, enlisting a crew of artists and featuring experimental typographics, controversial topics and an ever-expanding cast of French theorists. In 1983, Lotringer founded Semiotext(e)'s Foreign Agents series to present their work in a portable book format stripped of the usual academic introductions and afterwords. In 1990, as "French Theory" became established in America, Chris Kraus added the Native Agents book series -- meant to present home-grown fiction writers as American counterparts to the French theorists -- to Semiotext(e)'s output. Later, Lotringer expanded Semiotext(e)'s roster to include an Active Agents series featuring, among others, the Black Panthers.

Scope and Contents

The Sylvère Lotringer Papers and Semiotext(e) Archive includes correspondence, manuscripts, clippings, financial records, and audiovisual material associated with Lotringer's work as a literary critic and cultural theorist, and as the founder of the journal and independent press Semiotext(e). The collection is arranged into 13 Series:

SERIES I: Correspondence contains both Sylvère Lotringer's personal correspondence and the correspondence of the Semiotext(e) group. It has been arranged into five subseries: Correspondence from Individuals; Organizations; Unknown Senders; Flyers; and Press Releases and Address Books. This series does not contain all the correspondence in the archive. Correspondence that was found foldered with a particular manuscript or project has been retained in its original position.

In Subseries A: Individuals materials have been arranged alphabetically by name of sender--or recipient in the case of drafts of letters written by Sylvère Lotringer. Because this series contains both Sylvère's personal correspondence and that of Semiotext(e), it includes letters addressed to recipients other than Sylvère, such as Jim Fleming and Chris Kraus. These letters are nevertheless filed under the name of their sender. Where a sender has an important affiliation to a magazine or institution, this information has been noted in parentheses; such information is meant to be helpful but is not exhaustive. Correspondence with organizations and institutions that is business-oriented rather than personal can be found in Subseries B; however, such separations are not entirely firm. Files may include manuscripts, photographs and other material that was included with the letters. Materials in each folder are arranged chronologically, with undated materials at the end.

In Subseries B: Organizations materials have been arranged alphabetically by name of sender-organzation. Files may include manuscripts, photographs and other material that was included with the letters. Materials in each folder are arranged chronologically, with undated materials at the end.

The materials in Subseries C: Unknown Senders are arranged chronologically, with undated materials at the end.

Subseries D: Flyers, Press Releases and Mass-mailouts contains flyers, press-releases, posters, invitations and other non-unique correspondence materials. Materials are arranged alphabetically by the name of the sender organization or host venue.

Subseries E: Address Books contains address books as well as business cards and loose addresses and envelopes. Folders are arranged alphabetically by title. Business cards are arranged alphabetically, but all other material is in no particular order.

SERIES II: Semiotext(e) Projects contains correspondence, documents, manuscripts and publications, and promotional material for the projects of the Semiotext(e) group. Subseries A holds material on the issues of the Semiotext(e) periodical, as well as conferences and events put on by the group. This subseries also contains materials relating to the Semiotext(e) anthologies that reprint work from the earlier issues. Subseries B contains material relating to the Foreign, Native, and Active Agents book series, while Subseries C contains more general administrative files for the Semiotext(e) group.

The items in Subseries A: Issues and Conferences are arranged chronologically. The three large unfinished projects--the Panic, Japan, and Flesh-Eating Technologies Issues--have been listed by approximate date range and are grouped together. Often there is significant overlap between issues and conferences, with one growing out of the other. In such cases, materials have been placed with the best fit. Among the materials one can expect to find correspondence; notes, clippings and visual source material; manuscripts; layouts; flyers; and press clippings. Materials for each issue or conference is alphabetical by folder description. Material belonging to unidentified projects is found in the last folders in the series.

In Subseries B: Foreign, Native and Active Agents Books, the three book series are arranged chronologically by their founding date. Within each book series, materials are arranged chronologically by book title, with general and undated materials at the end. The date for unfinished projects is estimated.

Subseries C: Administrative Files contains administrative material like agreements, order forms, and stock counts arranged alphabetically by folder title. This subseries also contains the bulk of the information on Semiotext(e)'s relations with publishers Autonomedia and MIT Press.

SERIES III: Manuscripts from the Semiotext(e) Archive holds manuscripts found throughout the Semiotext(e) archive that could not be definitively linked to a specific issue of the Semiotext(e) periodical. It contains manuscripts for many of the Native Agents books as well as translations, interview transcripts and film scripts. It is divided into two subseries, for solicited and unsolicited manuscripts.

Subseries A: Manuscripts contains manuscripts found throughout the Semiotext(e) archive, as well as interviews conducted by Sylvère Lotringer, filed under the name of the interviewee. Materials are arranged alphabetically by author, and chronologically when the dates for several works by the same author are known. Translator's names appear in parentheses when known. If a work is untitled or if additional information about the work was given on the original folder, this information appears in parentheses.

Subseries B: Unsolicited Manuscripts contains unsolicited manuscripts sent to Semiotext(e). They have been identified as unsolicited by the use of a form letter and/or the inclusion of an SASE. Materials are arranged alphabetically by the name of the sender. Multiple submissions are arranged chronologically.

SERIES IV: Subject Files brings together the subject files kept by Lotringer on various topics, artists, theorists and regions. The subject files contain various documents types, sometimes containing notes, photocopies, clippings, correspondence, manuscripts and/or photographs. They are arranged alphabetically by folder title.

SERIES V: Sylvère Lotringer Projects assembles the body of Lotringer's work that is not directly related to the Semiotext(e) group. It contains subseries for his writing (including his book on sex offenders, Overexposed); his film projects, often in collaboration with his then-wife Chris Kraus; conferences, events and tours that he organized or participated in as an individual; academic papers, personal papers, and a subseries of notes and fragments.

Subseries A: Writing contains drafts, proofs and notes pertaining to writing projects that Lotringer worked on which do not appear under the Semiotext(e) name. Materials are arranged alphabetically by project title; where alternate titles are known they are indicated in parentheses. Within a project, materials are arranged alphabetically.

In Subseries B: Film materials are arranged alphabetically by film title and include scripts, notes, shooting schedules, promotional materials, etc.

Subseries C: Conference, Events and Tours contains materials pertaining to conferences and events that Lotringer participated in or organized outside the activities of the Semiotext(e) group. The series also includes materials pertaining to lecture tours and research trips. Materials are arranged alphabetically by conference, event or tour name.

Subseries D: Academic Work contains course materials, student bibliographies, and information on Sylvere's career at specific academic institutions. Materials are arranged alphabetically by folder name.

Subseries E: Journals, Datebooks, and Biographical Papers consists of Lotringer's journals, datebooks, and copies of his curriculum vitae. Materials are arranged alphabetically by folder title.

Subseries F: Notes and Fragments assembles handwritten notes, lists, and fragments of text that could not be linked to a larger project. The series begins with two sets of fiches that were filed in wooden boxes. These materials date from early in Lotringer's career and they have been retained in their original order. Subsequent materials are arranged alphabetically by topic or title when available. Unidentified materials can be found at the end.

SERIES VI: Photographic Materials contains only photographic material that could not be linked to a larger project, or was not contained with manuscripts, subject files, or correspondence elsewhere in the archive. The series is comprised mostly of prints, but also slides, contact sheets and negatives.

In Subseries A: Professional all photographic materials are arranged alphabetically by the photographer's name. When available, the subject's name appears in parentheses. Photos taken by unknown photographers can be found at the end of the series.

In Subseries B: Personal photographic prints are arranged alphabetically by the subject's name, with unknown subjects appearing at the end. Negatives are arranged chronologically at the end of the series.

SERIES VII: Financial Papers includes files of order forms, tax returns, invoices and receipts. Material is described at the box level.

SERIES VIII: Clippings and Photocopies contains folders of photocopies and clippings that were not labelled and could not be linked to a project elsewhere in the archive. Materials are arranged alphabetically by author's name. All miscellaneous folders are arranged chronologically at the end of the series.

SERIES IX: Editions of Publications contains copies of Semiotext(e) Issues (Subseries A), Foreign and Native Agents series books (Subseries B), Sylvère Lotringer's publications (Subseries C), and foreign translations of Semiotext(e) and Lotringer's books (Subseries D). The books are arranged chronologically. In the case of the Semiotext(e) books in the first two subseries, preference has been given to including those books in the Downtown Collection if Fales did not already have a copy on the shelf. For issues of Semiotext(e) not found in this series, please check the Fales holdings in the Downtown collection: P99.S38. Books from the Foreign and Native Agents series can be found by searching by author or title in Bobcat.

For SERIES X: Video, SERIES XI: Audio, SERIES XII: Film and SERIES XIII: Computer Disks, only those items listed in subseries A: Access Copies are available for research use.

OVERSIZE materials are found at the end of the finding aid, arranged by the series they were originally found in.



Holt, Nancy; Intra, Giovanni, 1968-2002; Hochroth, Lysa; Hollier, Denis; Jeudy, Henri Pierre, 1945-; Fleming, , Jim; Irigaray, Luce; Jaussely, Jean-Jacques; Goldmann, Lucien; Golub, Leon, 1922-2004; Giorno, John; Godine, David R.; Guyotat, Pierre, 1940-; Gysin, Brion; Green, Denise; Guattari, Félix, 1930-1992; Lyotard, Jean-François, 1924-1998; Lotringer, Mia; Lotringer, Sylvère; Girard, Rene; Marazzi, Christian; Malanga, Gerard; McKeon, Roger; Lebel, Jean Jacques; Lazarin, Michael; Laing, R. D. (Ronald David), 1927-1989; Laederach, Jürg, 1945-; Lorho, Robert, 1935-; Lord, Alan; Lischka, Gerhard Johann; Lévi-Strauss, Claude; Robbe-Grillet, Catherine, 1932-; Pichler, Cathrin; Kinser, Sam; Kelsey, John; Kamper, Dietmar, 1936-2001; Kolber, Jane; Kraus, Chris, 1963-; Kristeva, Julia, 1941-; Perret, Delphine; Pierssens, Michel; Polizzotti, Mark; Preston, John; Rabi; Raggenbass, Rolando, 1950-; Ricardou, Jean; Riffaterre, Michael; Mitchell, Eric; Milstayn, Yvonne; Nancy, Jean-Luc; Morton, John; Negri, Antonio, 1933-; Nechvatal, Joseph; Peraldi, François, 1938-1993; Paris, Jean; Wulf, Christoph, 1944-; Woolf, Leonard, 1880-1969; Martel, Richard, 1950-; Živančević, Nina, 1957-; Massumi, Brian; Masson-Sékiné, Nourit; Menon, Becca; Mauron, Charles; Wolfson, Louis, 1931-; Wongpanlert, Thanya; Weiss, Alan S.; Whitefeather, Selena; Vollman, William T.; Waliszek, Astrid; Tweedie, Merylyn; Virilio, Paul; Todorov, Tzvetan, 1939-2017; Joxe, Alain; Stern, Dagmar C.; Thorstad, David; Starobinski, Jean; Steir, Pat, 1940-; Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty; Smith, Duncan; Sivadon, Danielle, 1937-; Simon, Claude; Silverberg, Ira; Sidelsky, Monique; Séglard, Dominique; Schoener, Allon; Scemama, Marion; Sarraute, Nathalie; Sanders, Ed; Sackville-West, V (Victoria), 1892-1962; Rutherford-Dyer, Robert; Russell, Bertrand, 1872-1970; Torreauta, Maurizio; Stadler, Matthew; Poe, Amos; Fletcher, Jim; Lacan, Jacques, 1901-1981; Ludd, Deran; Müller, Heiner, 1929-1995; Barg, Barbara; Cixous, Hélène, 1937-; Diaz, George L.; Flanagan, Bob; Freud, Sigmund, 1856-1939; Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm, 1844-1900; Bin Wahad, Dhoruba; Artaud, Antonin, 1896-1948; Saussure, Ferdinand de, 1857-1913; Bataille, Georges, 1897-1962; Dunn, Douglas, 1942-; Foreman, Richard; Cortez, Diego; De Sana, Jimmy; Cage, John; Cooper, Dennis, 1953-; Brown, Trisha, 1936-2017; Burroughs, William S., 1914-1997; Tillman, Lynne; Wojnarowicz, David; Sherman, Stuart, 1945-2001; Spero, Nancy, 1926-2009; Rower, Ann, 1938-; Sellers, Terence; Ginsberg, Allen, 1926-1997; Woolf, Virginia, 1882-1941; Fuchs, Elinor; Ganahl, Rainer; Foreman, Laura; Foss, Paul; Paris, Heidi; Ferdière, Gaston, 1907-; Garnet, Eldon; Gente, Peter; Berardi, Franco; Berglund, Gregory; Acker, Kathy, 1948-1997; Flato, Susie; Blanchot, Maurice; Barthes, Roland; Ballard, J. G., 1930-2009; Beitchman, Philip, 1939-; Baudrillard, Jean, 1929-2007; Ventura, Susana; Asada, Akira, 1957-; Auster, Paul, 1947-; Balestrini, Nanni; Asaoka, Kayko; Cantrell, Emily; Callard, Andrea; Camus, Albert, 1913-1960; Daitch, Susan; Cohen, Sande; Christo, 1935-; Cherry, Regina; Derrida, Jacques; Deleuze, Gilles, 1925-1995; Certeau, Michel de; Davis, Lydia, 1947-; Dos Santos, Judite; Santos, Laymert Garcia dos; Doubrovsky, Serge; Edelstein, Leonard; Eliot, T. S. (Thomas Stearns), 1888-1965; Emerling, Susan; Falkner, Gerhard; Foucault, Michel, 1926-1984; Dickson, Jane; Alden, Todd; Anderson, Fortner; Aragon, 1897-1982; Rattray, David; Pell, Derek; Pélieu, Claude; Myles, Eileen; Overlie, Mary; Mailer, Norman; Mueller, Cookie; King, Kenneth, 1948-; Lindsay, Arto; Hell, Richard; Indiana, Gary; Abish, Walter; Glass, Philip; Breuer, Lee; Acconci, Vito, 1940-

Conditions Governing Access

Materials are open to researchers without restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright (or related rights to publicity and privacy) for materials in this collection was not transferred to New York University. Permission to use materials must be secured from the copyright holder. Please contact the Fales Library and Special Collections,, 212-998-2596.

Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form: Identification of item, date (if known); Sylvere Lotringer Papers and Semiotext(e) Archive; MSS 221; box number; folder number; Fales Library and Special Collections, New York University Libraries.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collection was purchased by NYU Libraries from Sylvère Lotringer in 2008. An accretion of 4 boxes was added in October 2015. In April 2018 Lotringer donated an additional nine audiocassettes of Kathy Acker interviews; the accession number associated with this gift is 2018.059. Lotringer donated an additional box of correspondence and ephemera in July 2018; the accession number with this gift is 2018.117.

Audiovisual Access Policies and Procedures

Access to some audiovisual materials in this collection is available through digitized access copies. Researchers may view an item's original container, but the media themselves are not available for playback because of preservation concerns. Materials that have already been digitized are noted in the collection's finding aid and can be requested in our reading room. To request an access copy, or if you are unsure if an item has been digitized, please contact with the collection name, collection number, and a description of the item(s) requested. A staff member will respond to you with further information.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

Advance notice is required for the use of computer records. Original physical digital media is restricted. Born-digital materials have not been transferred and may not be available to researchers. Researchers may request access copies. To request that material be transferred, or if you are unsure if material has been transferred, please contact with the collection name, collection number, and a description of the item(s) requested. A staff member will respond to you with further information.

Separated Materials

Three linear feet of material created by Chris Kraus was returned to Kraus in March 2012 at the donor's request, as per the original acquisition agreement. These deaccessioned materials are indicated in the finding aid.

Collection processed by

Christine M. Woody; data entry completed by Laura Newsome and Liza Harrell-Edge, 2011.

About this Guide

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on 2024-02-06 14:18:09 -0500.
Language: Finding aid written in English

Revisions to this Guide

March 2017: Updated by Jacqueline Rider to reflect incorporation of video preservation master and sub-master files.
April 2018: Updated by Rachel Searcy to reflect April 2018 accretion
November 2018: Updated by Rachel Searcy to reflect July 2018 accretion
June 2021: Updated by Anna Björnsson McCormick to correctly identify Josephine Guatarri
March 2022: Updated by Rachel Mahre to state that video materials have been digitized and are accessible to patrons
May 2023: Updated by Rachel Mahre to state that video materials have been digitized and are accessible to patrons


Fales Library and Special Collections
Fales Library and Special Collections
Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
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New York, NY 10012