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Philippe Beck - Biography

Philippe Beck, Ph.D., born in Strasbourg, France, on April 21, 1963 is a contemporary French poet, writer, and philosopher. In 1994 Philippe Beck received his Doctor of Philosophy at l’Ecole des hautes études en sciences socials in Paris under the direction of Jacques Derrida. Philippe Beck has been a Professor at The European Graduate School, in Saas-Fee, Switzerland since 2009 and a Lecturer in Philosophy at the Centre Atlantique de Philosophie at the University of Nantes since 1995. Beck’s first book of poetry, Sleeve Guard Hypocrite, (Garde-manche hypocrite) appeared in 1996.

For Philippe Beck, thinking about aesthetics necessitates that we simultaneously rethink conceptions of politics and ‘the modern’. Beck’s poems are replete with literary, philosophical, and historical references. One of Beck’s more recent publications, Chants populaires (Folk Songs, 2007) is a reinterpretation of Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Following the philosophical undertaking of deconstruction as articulated by Jacques Derrida, Beck holds that how we conceive of the past will determine how we conceptualize present and future. Of the poet’s task, Beck says:

You mustn’t simply say what is but what can be: re-read the past, re-world it, if you like.

Though the majority of his works are poetic, it would be a grave mistake to define Philippe Beck as primarily a poet. Along with 14 published books of poetry, Beck has produced an intellectual biography titled Beck l’impersonnage (Beck the Impersonality, 2006) and a book of prose with the pithy title A Journal (Un Journal, 2008). He has collaborated with Gérard Pesson and Philippe Mion in the composition of several operatic and choral pieces. Beck has contributed a multitude of academic essays to various journals and has translated works by Walter Benjamin, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph von Schelling, and Karl Philipp Moritz.

As lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Nantes, Philippe Beck specializes in the following areas: Aesthetics (particularly relating to Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel’s aesthetics and art), Poetics, History of Philosophy (Plato, St. Augustine), Political Philosophy, and the interlacing of Philosophy and Literature.

In addition to his teaching duties, Philippe Beck regularly participates in literary events, academic conferences, and gives lectures at universities and cultural institutes around the world including: Cambridge Conference of Contemporary Poetry, Trinity College; the Alliance française de Valparaiso (Chile); the Singapore Literary Congress at the invitation of the French Consulate; Barnard University New-York; Buffalo University; University of Massachusetts; University of Colorado in Denver; University of Osnabrück; and the University of Québec at Montreal. He has read his poems and lectured at myriad poetry festivals in cities including Berlin, Amsterdam, Rome, Montreal, Shanghai, Peking, and Istanbul.

In 1990 Philippe Beck was a founding member of Alter, a journal of phenomenology and in 2000 he became founder and editor in chief of Quaderno, a journal of poetry. Beck is also on the editorial board for several important publications including: Cities (Cités ) and Law of Cities (Droit de cités) on the themes of philosophy and culture; Calendar of Contemporary Thought (Agenda de la pensée contemporaine), a journal of the Social Sciences; and Rockets (Fusées), a journal of art and literature.

In recent years, Philippe Beck has received recognition of his prodigious talent as a poet. Honours include the Bourse exceptionnelle de création for Poetry, granted by the Centre National du Livre in 2003; Writer in Residence at Château de Blandy-les-Tours, granted by the regional council of d’Île-de-France in 2008; and Mission Stendhal Laureate in China, granted by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2009.

To date only two of Philippe Beck’s books have been translated into English: Crude Marivaux: Critical Texts (Textes critiques, 1999) and Vault of the Dissolvable Novel (Chambre à roman fusible, 2002). Beck has however, received widespread recognition as a poet, philosopher, and writer in France and in literary communities throughout the world. Many of his poetic works have been translated into German, Chinese, Korean, Dutch, Flemish, and Galacian.

Matthes & Seitz Berlin will publish Populäre Gesänge. (Popular Songs. Chants Populaires) in January 2011 and Ein Tagebuch. (A Diary. Un Journal) in September 2011.

Philippe Beck is a professor of poetry at the European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland, where he teaches an Intensive Summer Workshop.