Paris 8 University Vincennes-Saint-Denis

Coordinates: 48°56′41″N 2°21′48″E / 48.94472°N 2.36333°E / 48.94472; 2.36333
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Paris 8 University Vincennes-Saint-Denis
Université Paris 8 Vincenne-Saint-Denis
MottoUniversité Monde
Motto in English
World University
Academic affiliations
Université Paris Lumières
Endowment€113 million (2013)[1]
ChancellorAnnick Allaigre

48°56′41″N 2°21′48″E / 48.94472°N 2.36333°E / 48.94472; 2.36333
Paris 8 University

Paris 8 University Vincennes-Saint-Denis (French: Université Paris 8 Vincennes-Saint-Denis) is a public university in Paris, France. Once part of the historic University of Paris, it is now an autonomous public institution.

It is one of the thirteen successors of the world's second oldest academic institution, the University of Paris, and was established shortly before the latter officially ceased to exist on 31 December 1970. It was founded as a direct response to events of May 1968. This response was twofold: it was sympathetic to students' demands for more freedom, but also represented the movement of students out of central Paris, especially the Latin Quarter, where the street fighting of 1968 had taken place.

Entrance of Paris 8 University


Founded in 1969, the new experimental institution was named Centre Universitaire Expérimental de Vincennes (CUEV) in Vincennes. In 1971, it gained full university status, thus allowing it to award its own degrees, and renamed "Université Paris VIII".[2] Since moving to Saint-Denis in 1980, the university has become a major teaching and research centre for humanities in the Île-de-France region.


On Monday 5th of August 1968, the Dean of the Sorbonne University, Raymond Las Vergnas, proposed the creation of a new university to Edgar Faure, the Minister of National Education. Las Vergnas was accompanied by professors Pierre Dommergues, Bernard Cassen and a young female lecturer in English, Hélène Cixous.[3] Two days later, Cixous sent a telegram to her friend Jacques Derrida, asking him to be his advisor.[4] Through Derrida, Cixous recruited Georges Canguilhem and Roland Barthes, who became official advisors.[4][5]

Tumultuous years[edit]

As soon as it opened, Vincennes became the venue for a continuation of 1968, being occupied almost immediately by student radicals, and being the scene of violent confrontations with the police. One incident, in early 1972, involved a janitors' (travailleurs du nettoyage) strike. The radicalized janitors invaded classrooms, accused the professors of being scabs, and demanded solidarity. Meanwhile, there was so much radical leafleting, some university hallways were clogged with ankle-deep crumpled leaflets.

It became particularly notorious for its radical philosophy department, assembled and then headed by Michel Foucault, who in this stage of his career was at his most militant, on one occasion participating in a student occupation and pelting the police outside the building with projectiles. The scandal of this department emerged not around this incident, however, but around one of the philosophy professors, Jacques Lacan's daughter Judith Miller, who was not only a committed communist, like most of the faculty, but indeed a Maoist as well. The department had its accreditation withdrawn after it was revealed that Miller had handed out course credit to strangers she met on a bus.[6] (Miller was subsequently fired by the French education ministry after saying in a radio interview that the university was a capitalist institution and that she was trying to make it function as badly as possible.[citation needed])

Recent reforms[edit]

Since the turmoil in the late 1960s, the university has endorsed a far more mainstream academic life and has brought in new departments, new professors, and national rules to effect this change. In 1980, the university was relocated to the suburb of Saint-Denis. The university's capacity of 24,000 students per year makes "Paris VIII" an important university with internationally recognized departments in Philosophy, Political Sciences, Cinema Arts, Communication Studies, and Feminist Studies.


The university offers over a hundred undergraduate, graduate and diploma courses.[7] It is particularly well known for its political science program as it is the only public university in France to offer this subject at undergraduate level.

The University of Paris VIII also offers some distance-learning opportunities for a select number of subjects such as Law and Psychology.


Paris-VIII is well-connected and has over 250 partnerships with universities around the world. They include the UC Berkeley, the Beijing Film Academy, Boston University, the Free University of Berlin, the Humboldt University of Berlin, the University of Vienna as well as since 2016 the University of Rojava.[8]

Students are encouraged to spend one or two semesters at a neighbouring institution in the US, Canada, Latin America, Asia or Europe in order to develop their language skills and cultural understanding. Alternatively, students also have the possibility to teach French in a high school abroad or to complete an internship.

Notable academics[edit]

Notable alumni[edit]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Info" (PDF). 2013.
  2. ^ "Paris VIII: History".
  3. ^ Boulard, Stéphanie; Gueorguieva, Elitza; Samoyault, Tiphaine; Ruffel, Lionel (2019-03-15). "L'Invention de Vincennes en trois épisodes". Contemporary French and Francophone Studies. 23 (2): 226. doi:10.1080/17409292.2019.1674489. ISSN 1740-9292.
  4. ^ a b Peeters, Benoît (2010). Derrida. Grandes biographies. Paris: Flammarion. p. 250. ISBN 978-2-08-121407-1.
  5. ^ Boulard, Stéphanie; Gueorguieva, Elitza; Samoyault, Tiphaine; Ruffel, Lionel (2019-03-15). "L'Invention de Vincennes en trois épisodes". Contemporary French and Francophone Studies. 23 (2): 228. doi:10.1080/17409292.2019.1674489. ISSN 1740-9292.
  6. ^ Miller, James (2000). The Passion of Michel Foucault. Harvard University Press. ISBN 9780674001572.
  7. ^ "Paris VIII: Educational Programs".
  8. ^ "Rojava university seeks to eliminate constraints on education in Syria's Kurdish region". ARA News. 2016-08-15. Archived from the original on August 18, 2016. Retrieved 2016-08-15.
  9. ^ (in French) Info archive on (DOC file)

External links[edit]