Judith Balso

Professor of Poetry at The European Graduate School / EGS.

Judith Balso

Biography

Judith Balso is a French writer, philosopher, and professor of poetry at The European Graduate School / EGS. Each year she invites a renowned poet—such as Philippe Beck, Michel Deguy, Alessandro De Francesco, or Jacques Roubaud, to name but a few— to discuss their work in her seminar. In addition to teaching at The EGS, Balso has also taught at the Collège international de philosophie in Paris.

Balso, whose research and writing revolves around the intersection of—and relationship between—poetry, philosophy, and politics, has focused extensively on the writings of Fernando Pessoa. The author of Pessoa (Le Perroquet, 1991), she received her PhD from Marc Bloch University (Strasbourg, France) in 1997 with a dissertation entitled “Pessoa: le passeur métaphysique, ou la poésie comme pensée de la poésie comme pensée.”

In 2006, Balso published Pessoa, le passeur métaphysique (Seuil), translated as Pessoa, The Metaphysical Courier by Drew Burk (Atropos Press, 2011). According to Michael Colson, it “is the most informative full-length study on the Portuguese poet’s philosophical interests that’s available in English” and “a significant contribution to scholarship in Modernism, because it introduces Pessoa’s unique poetic philosophy, which is deeply paradoxical and unorthodox, to an English-speaking audience that may not be familiar with his metaphysical concerns.” [1] In a similar vein, Alain Badiou affirms: “I can see only Judith Balso engaged in an evaluation of the whole of Pessoa’s poetry in terms of the question of metaphysics.” [2]

A political activist since the 1970s, Balso (alongside Alain Badiou, Michael Hardt, Jean-Luc Nancy, Antonio Negri, and Jacques Rancière, among others) participated in The Idea of Communism, a conference organized by the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities in March 2009 in London. In her essay “To Present Oneself to the Present. The Communist Hypothesis: a Possible Hypothesis for Philosophy, an Impossible Name for Politics?”, published in the same-named and subsequent book, she writes:

“…since the 1970s I have been uninterruptedly involved in researching an altogether new thought and practice of a politics worthy of being called a ‘politics of emancipation’, a name I use provisionally here, and only because I have no better one. It is from this singular place that I accepted the invitation to consider a question which (I insist) is asked only by philosophers, and only in the field of philosophy: whether the communist hypothesis remains valid or not.” [3]

In her most recent book, Affirmation de la poésie (Nous, 2011), translated as Affirmation of Poetry by Drew Burk (Univocal Publishing, 2014), “Judith Balso defends the significance of poetry as a necessary practice for thinking. For Balso, if reading poetry properly has become an obscure task, poetry itself still carries with it a power of thinking: the efforts of the poets must continue. In analyzing the affirmation of thought found within the work of such poets as Osip Mandelstam, Wallace Stevens, Alberto Caeiro, and Giacomo Leopardi, Balso reestablishes poetry’s place as a site of thought.” [4]

[1] Portuguese-American Journal, available at http://portuguese-american-journal.com/book-pessoa… (posted on 12 June 2013, last accessed September 21, 2015)

[2] Handbook of Inaesthetics, trans. Alberto Toscano, Stanford University Press, 2005, 36.

[3] Edited by Costas Douzinas and Slavoj Žižek, Verso, 2010, 15 (article co-translated with Andrew Gibson)

[4] https://www.univocalpublishing.com/judith-balso/affirmation-of-poetry, last accessed September 21, 2015

Works

Books

Affirmation de la poésie, Balso, Judith. Affirmation de la poésie. Nous, 2011. ISBN: 2913549551

Affirmation of Poetry, Balso, Judith. Affirmation of Poetry. Translated by Drew S. Burk. Univocal, 2014. ISBN: 1937561178

Pessoa: Le Passeur Métaphysique, Balso, Judith. Pessoa. Le Passeur Métaphysique. Seuil, 2006. ISBN: 2020658305

Pessoa, the Metaphysical Courier, Balso, Judith. Pessoa, the Metaphysical Courier. Translated by Drew Burk. Atropos, 2011. ISBN: 0983173478

Pessoa, Balso, Judith. Pessoa. Les conférences du Perroquet, 1991.

M.R.P.P.: Le Portugal de Près – Textes et Documents, Balso, Judith. M.R.P.P.: Le Portugal de Près – Textes et Documents. F. Maspero, 1976. ISBN: 2707108243

Chapters

Afterword to Les rapports

Balso, Judith. Afterword to Les rapports, by Antonio Porta. Nous, 2015. ISBN: 2370840188

Foreward to Poetry Vocare

Balso, Judith. Foreward to Poetry Vocare, by Adam Staley Groves. Uitgeverij, 2011. ISBN: 9081709119

To Present Oneself to the Present. The Communist Hypothesis: a Possible Hypothesis for Philsophy, an Impossible Name for Politics

Balso, Judith. “To Present Oneself to the Present. The Communist Hypothesis: a Possible Hypothesis for Philsophy, an Impossible Name for Politics.” In The Idea of Communism, edited by Slavoj Zizek and Costas Douzinas, 15. Verso, 2010. ISBN: 184467455X

Pessoa, le sujet inachevé

Balso, Judith. “Pessoa, le sujet inachevé.” In Revue Silène. Centre de recherches en littérature et poétique comparées de Paris Ouest-Nanterre-La Défense. 2008.

Les ‘pessoas-livros’ de Fernando Pessoa, ou, Le concept de l’hétéronymie

Balso, Judith. “Les ‘pessoas-livros’ de Fernando Pessoa, ou, Le concept de l’hétéronymie.” In La politique des poetes: Pourquoi des poetes en temps de detresse? A. Michel, 1992. ISBN: 2226057498

Articles

Leger, allant de l’avant, choisissant toujours la vie, la jeunesse

Balso, Judith. “Leger, allant de l’avant, choisissant toujours la vie, la jeunesse.” Europe: revue littéraire mensuelle Vol. 86, No. 947 (2008).

Lectures

Alain Badiou, Judith Balso

Contemporary art: considered philosophically and poetologically

03.09.2014
Judith Balso, Philippe Beck

The Concepts of Poetry and Reading 9/9

07.10.2009
Philippe Beck, Judith Balso

The Concepts of Poetry and Reading 8/9

07.10.2009
Philippe Beck, Judith Balso

The Concepts of Poetry and Reading 7/9

07.10.2009
Judith Balso, Philippe Beck

The Concepts of Poetry and Reading 6/9

07.10.2009
Judith Balso, Philippe Beck

The Concepts of Poetry and Reading 5/9

07.10.2009
Judith Balso, Philippe Beck

The Concepts of Poetry and Reading 4/9

07.10.2009
Judith Balso, Philippe Beck

The Concepts of Poetry and Reading 3/9

07.10.2009
Philippe Beck, Judith Balso

The Concepts of Poetry and Reading 2/9

07.10.2009
Philippe Beck, Judith Balso

The Concepts of Poetry and Reading 1/9

07.10.2009