College of Sociology  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

The College of Sociology ("Collège de Sociologie" in French) was a loosely-knit group of French intellectuals, named after the informal discussion series that they organized. The College was founded in 1937 in Paris and continued operating until 1939, when it was disrupted by the war.

Founding members include some of France's most well-known intellectuals of the interwar period, including Georges Ambrosino, Georges Bataille, Roger Caillois, Pierre Klossowski, Pierre Libra, and Jules Monnerot. Participants also included Michel Leiris, Alexandre Kojève, Jean Paulhan, and Jean Wahl.

The members of the College were united in their dissatisfaction with surrealism. They believed that surrealism's focus on the unconscious privileged the individual over society, and obscured the social dimension of human experience.

In contrast to this, the members of the College focused on "Sacred Sociology, implying the study of all manifestations of social existence where the active presence of the sacred is clear." The group drew on work in anthropology which focused on the way that human communities engaged in collective rituals or acts of distribution such as potlatch. It was here, in moments of intense communal experience, rather than the individualistic dreams and reveries of surrealism, that the College of Sociology sought the essence of humanity.

The group met for two years and lectured on many topics, including the structure of the army, the Marquis de Sade, English monarchy, literature, sexuality, Hitler, and Hegel. This focus, and in particular their interest in indigenous cultures, was part of a wider trend towards primitivism of the time.

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