Library of Living Philosophers Book Series earns grant

By Emily Cooper, Staff Reporter

Celebrating a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Sara Beardsworth, Associate Professor in the department of philosophy at the university and series editor, is creating the 36th volume of the Library of Living Philosophers.  

Founded in 1938, by Paul Schilpp, the unique book series called the LLP was brought to SIU in the mid-1960s. Its historical mission is the collective understanding of traditions, societies and cultures around the world.

Earlier this year the LLP was awarded by the NEH for a grant worth $39,300 for its collaborative research.


The project is ongoing and the projected publication is in 2021, Beardsworth said. The volumes are very big in size. So, the extent of the collaboration, along with scheduling, cause for a long schedule to produce a volume.

When released, the volume will have physical and online versions, Beardsworth said.

The volumes

The series began with a volume on John Dewey, an American philosopher whose archive is at SIU. The series includes volumes from Albert Einstein, Jean-Paul Sartre and Marjorie Grene.

“The principle figures may be chosen not for just their kind of world-class quality of their ideas in the academic arena but also for their wider intellectual cultural significance,” Beardsworth said.

The 36th volume will follow the living life of Julia Kristeva. She is a philosopher, a novelist, a psychoanalyst, and a multi-disciplinary writer in the humanities.

Beardsworth said this series is an international collaboration with more than 10 different countries including the U.S., France, Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Cyprus, Israel, Italy, Norway, Sweden and the UK.


Beardsworth said Kristeva was born in Bulgaria, where she grew up under the communist regime. She moved to France as a young woman scholar.

“She’s acclaimed for being one of the leading thinkers of her generation who’s genuinely able to be a public intellectual,” Beardsworth said. “She analyzes our times. […] She has a focus on healing with a special concern for the human interactions in treatment and writes on disability as well.”

The main part of the book is stages of dialogue with other authors, who are her scholars and critics, they write essays on a time-period of her life or a theme of her life’s work, Beardsworth said. From there she writes her replies to each essay.  

The book will include her intellectual autobiography which relates the theory to life, Beardsworth said. This series has a broad reach by progressing past gender boundaries.

“This forthcoming volume […] brings the first woman thinker with a broad impact in the series,” Beardsworth said. “Actually, she’s the only second woman thinker in the series. So, this is the first volume on a woman thinker and also edited by a woman.”

Beardsworth said she enjoys collaborating with a multitude of people on such an influential individual.

“It’s interesting work and significant work for a university like ours that wants to maintain a reputation for research and for giving students important educational work opportunities,” Beardsworth said.


Beardsworth said the grant is being used to meet certain costs in collaborating and editing processes, translating different countries’ work, compiling the materials, preparing for the materials, and the work needed to engage other people for the preparation of the materials.

The LLP used to have an editor 40 hours a week, but Beardsworth said she’s now doing that work as well because of a much smaller budget.

“We keep the budget as low as we can for the preparation of the volume and the budget from the university used to be enough,” Beardsworth said. “So, this $39,300 for direct costs from the NEH is very important for being able to bring this volume out.”

According to Beardsworth, the LLP has never been self-supported financially. When it came to be housed at SIU the university became it’s major supporter financially. The university continues to supply students with assistantships but discontinued the budget.

Gratitude for the grant

Beardsworth said the grant shows the Department of Philosophy and SIU that they’re being recognized with this internationally recognized award. The awards are very competitive, only seven national awards have been granted in the collaborative research category.

“It acknowledges work like that of this figure, Julia Kristeva, whose work shows the public meaning of the humanities and who demonstrates models for relating the humanities to contemporary concerns,” Beardsworth said.

Beardsworth said the award is important because it recognizes the LLP as significant today.

Staff reporter Emily Cooper can be reached at [email protected]

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