School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies

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Samuel Matuszewski

PhD in French Studies, Faculty of Arts


Teaching Summary

I have led seminars for the twin, first-year undergraduate modules Contemporary France: Politics and Society and Contemporary France: Economy and Society (2011/2012, 2012/2013, 2013/2014) and their… read more

Research Summary

Current Status

PhD (full-time) - graduating in July

Research Topic

A Genealogy of the French Collège: The Emergence of an Institution of Deleuzean Control

Research Summary

At the end of the 1980s, Gilles Deleuze asserted that we are moving away from the disciplinary society described by Michel Foucault (1975) and towards what he called societies of control. The organised series of enclosed and distinct disciplinary institutions, upon which the disciplinary society is built, is in crisis according to Deleuze, and destined to decline in the face of the emerging modulation of quasi-continuous control. One such disciplinary institution, to which both Foucault and Deleuze refer, is the school.

My thesis examines Deleuze's claim of a shift from the foucauldian disciplinary society to a society of control in relation to education in France by focusing on the emergence of the collège, the middle school for ages 11-16, which was created in 1975 and constitutes the final stage of compulsory education for all French children. In this thesis, I provide a critical assessment and further development of the concept of control and the society of control alongside an evaluation of the development and contemporary position and function of the collège in relation to the social transformation asserted by Deleuze. This genealogy of the collège shows how the intensification of power, which Nealon (2008) identifies as the motor of historical change in Foucault's philosophy, produces, over the course of the long 19th century, a disciplinary education system composed of three separate institutional orders that each actualised distinct normative logics, oriented by the mots d'ordre of community, individual and economy respectively, and then traces how this same process of intensification, expressed in responses to the contingent limitations on the exercise of power in service of these logics that were identified over the course of the 20th century, eventually produces the collège at the confluence of these divergent disciplinary logics as an institution that marks the emergence of a dispositif of control within the French education system: a dividual institution that seeks to actualise multiple divergent logics within a single institutional space and which is increasingly locally modulated due to the development of decentralised governance practices.

Although the collège retains many features of a disciplinary institution, my thesis shows that these features are taken up, reoriented and repurposed by a more general shift towards a system of control. In Deleuzo-Guattarian terms: the relative deterritorialisations of the education system that produced the collège have resulted in an absolute deterritorialisation of this institution as part of the society of control. Furthermore, I argue that the French schools crisis, which has been debated since the 1980s, must be understood in the context of the more profound crisis of disciplinary enclosure posited by Deleuze.

Research Interests

Politics, history and philosophy of education (especially in France); contemporary subjectivities and subjectivation; the translation of thought/philosophy; contemporary French sociology and social theory; literary and cinematic representations of education and youth; concepts of political agency and of revolution/the revolutionary; secrecy; cryptography; the French reception of William Burroughs.

PhD Supervisors

Primary Funding Source

Arts and Humanities Research Council

Research Institutes, Centres or Research Clusters Memberships


Conference Papers & Presentations

  • '"L'École est l'esprit de la République": Making sense of French education policy since 2012', 20th/21st Century French and Francophone Studies International Colloquium - Le sens et les sens, Bloomington, IN, April 2017
  • 'École en crise, école en transition: The collège and the shift from discipline to control in French education', ASMCF annual conference - Transitions, Aston University, September 2016
  • 'The French collège, the crise scolaire, and the reconfiguration of school space', SFS annual conference, University of Glasgow, June 2016
  • 'The French school crisis, the collège​, and the passage from discipline to control', 20th/21st Century French and Francophone Studies International Colloquium - Passages, Seuils, Portes​, St. Louis, MO, March 2016
  • 'De-coding Chiffre​ in Gilles Deleuze's (1990) Post-scriptum sur les sociétés de contrôle​: Translation, Normativity and Digital Culture', SFS annual conference, Cardiff University, June/July 2015
  • 'The crisis of disciplinary enclosure in the French School and the emergence of the collège unique', SFHS annual conference - Learning and French History, Colorado College, Colorado Springs, CO, April 2015
  • 'The biopolitics of human capital theory in the French education system: The shift from a disciplinary society to a society of control', 20th/21st Century French and Francophone Studies International Colloquium - Money/L''argent, NYU/Graduate Center-CUNY/Columbia University, March 2014
  • 'From a disciplinary school to a school of control: Foucault and education after Deleuze', Foucault and Education: Retrospect and prospect, University of Sheffield, January 2014
  • 'Not a reform but a liquidation: The context of Deleuze's theory of the society of control and the emergence of a modulated school in 1980s France', Deleuze. Guattari. Schizoanalysis. Education., Murdoch University, Perth, Australia, December 2013
  • 'Forming citizens or human resources?: Capitalist investment in republican values and the public space of the French school', ASMCF annual conference - Renegotiating Social Divisions in France and Francophone World, University of Leicester, September 2013

Academic history

  • MA French Culture and Politics - University of Nottingham (Distinction)
  • BA (Hons) French and Politics - University of Nottingham (First)

Teaching experience

  • 'Myth and History: Introduction to Post-War French Thought' (Level 2) - Spring 2016
  • Seminar tutor for 'Contemporary France' (Level 1) - 2016, 2017
  • Seminar tutor for 'Contemporary France: Politics and Society' (Level 1) - 2011/12, 2012/13 and 2013/14
  • Seminar tutor for 'Contemporary France: Economy and Society' (Level 1) - 2011/12, 2012/13 and 2013/14
  • Workshop tutor for 'French Language 1' (Level 1) - 2013/14, Spring 2016, Spring 2017
  • Lecturer for 'French Language 1' (Level 1) - Spring 2016

Other activities

I have led seminars for the twin, first-year undergraduate modules Contemporary France: Politics and Society and Contemporary France: Economy and Society (2011/2012, 2012/2013, 2013/2014) and their revised successor module Contemporary France (2016, 2017). These modules gave an overview of the development of contemporary French society with a focus on the post-war period. Topics covered included: the constitution of the Fifth Republic, particularly the position of the President; political parties; immigration and immigration policy; decolonisation; the education system and questions of social inequality, social mobility and laïcité; economic history, with an emphasis on the rise and fall of the 'French model'; and women in work and society. As part of these modules, we also examined novels which relate to the issues covered: La Place by Annie Ernaux (1983) and Béni ou le Paradis Privé by Azouz Begag (1989).

I have also taught workshops (2013/2014, 2016, 2017) and contributed lectures (2016) for the core, first-year undergraduate module French Language 1, in which we covered all aspects of French grammar (grammatical terminology, voices, moods, tenses, clauses, articles, pronouns, interrogation, negation, agreement, etc.) in relation to a number of themes (Advertising, freedom of expression, Paris and la province, the media, laïcité, la francophonie, new technologies, and literature and society).

Additionally, in 2016, I convened and taught my own second-year undergraduate module Myth and History: An Introduction to Post-War French Thought. Focusing on the themes of myth and history as they are discussed in Claude Lévi-Strauss's (1952) Race et histoire and Roland Barthes's (1957) Mythologies, this module introduced key ideas and debates in France in the decade following the end of World War Two and related these ideas and debates to existentialism, Marxism, structuralism, humanism, feminism and psychoanalysis, as well as to the broader historical context of late 1940s and 1950s France.

Previously, I have worked as lecteur d'Anglais at the Centre International de Langues at the Université de Nantes. In this post I led oral classes in English for both undergraduate and postgraduate students and helped organise extra-curricular activities in English to engage students with the language beyond the classroom.

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