Lucy McCormick

Research title

'Buddhism in the early work of Georges Bataille'

Research summary

My current project examines the previously-unexplored influence of Buddhist thought and practice in the early life and work of Georges Bataille. Known for his silence on some of his most important influencers (notably his father and his lover Colette Peignot), I argue that the influence of Buddhism constitutes another of these silences: transmitted notably through Friedrich Nietzsche as well as key contemporary relationships, it is woven into the fabric of Bataille's interwar output. 

More broadly, I examine the influence of Buddhist thought and practice on the thinkers, writers and ethnographers of the French interwar avant-garde, with a particular focus on how this affected European, colonial conceptions of self and identity. As part of this, I explore the European use of Buddhism as an Other through which to understand the self, from the missionaries of the Middle Ages to the rationalists of the Enlightenment; from 19th Century nihilistic philosophy to problematic Western practices of yoga and meditation in the present day.




Peter Davies Scholarship in French Studies, University of Glasgow (2018 - 2019).

Allan Inglis Travel Scholarship, University of Glasgow (2018).

French Studies Departmental Bursary (Fees), University of Warwick (2009 - 2010).


Institut français d’Ecosse: Edinburgh Interdisciplinary Seminar, 30th November 2018. Refuge in Exile: Explorations of the Self in French Interwar Travel Writing.