Michał Paweł Markowski

(1962) is the Stefan and Lucy Hejna Family Chair in Polish Language and Literature at the University of Illinois at Chicago; Head of the Department of Slavic and Baltic Languages and Literatures at UIC; and Director of Graduate Studies at the SBLL. He is also a tenured Visiting Professor at the Jagiellonian University, where he created the Centre for the Advanced Studies in the Humanities in 2007, of which he served as the first director until he moved to Chicago in 2010. Currently, he presides over the Academic Board of the CASH.

He is the author and editor of more than 20 books on literature and philosophy that have been translated into English, Serbian, Bulgarian, Ukrainian, Swedish and Romanian. His most important monographs include: The Inscription Effect: Jacques Derrida and Literature (1997); Nietzsche: Philosophy of Interpretation (1997); Desire for Presence: Philosophies of Representation from Plato to Descartes (1999); Identity and Interpretation (2003); Black Waters: Gombrowicz, World, Literature (2004); Theories of Literature in the 20th Century (2 volumes; 2006); Polish Modern Literature (2007); Universal Dissolution: Schulz, Existence, Literature (2012); and The Politics of Sensitivity: Introduction to the Humanities (2013). As translator, he brought works by Proust, Barthes, Blanchot, Derrida, Foucault, Lyotard, Deleuze, Kristeva, Rorty and Perec into Polish. He edited the writings of Friedrich Schlegel, Marcel Proust, Roland Barthes and Julia Kristeva and penned five collections of essays: Anatomy of Curiosity (1999), Excess: Essays on Writing and Reading (2002), Desire and Idolatry (2004), Life Measured by Literature (2007) and Sun, Possibility, and Joy (2010). Markowski is the co-editor of two book series in Polish: Hermeneia (Jagiellonian University Press) and Horizons of Modernity (Universitas, over 100 volumes published). His most recent book, Day on Earth: Travelling Prose (2014), combines fiction, travel essays and photography. An exhibition of his photographs, Line and Land, is scheduled for 2015 in Chicago


Between 2004 and 2005 along with leading Polish actor and director Jerzy Stuhr, Markowski co-hosted the monthly cultural talk show Café Kultura on Channel 2 of Polish Public Television. Between 2005 and 2006, he hosted Literary Monday on the Culture Channel, which also was broadcasted by public television in Poland. Between 2006 and 2007, he ran a weekly column titled "On the Other Hand" in Tygodnik Powszechny to which he frequently contributes travel essays and other literary pieces published in the "Senses" section.

Markowski is the recipient of several Polish awards and honours, including the "Literatura na Świecie" ("Literature in the World") Award in comparative criticism (1998), the Alexander Brückner Prize for the best Polish scholar in literary studies (1998), the literary Kościelscy Prize for essay writing (2000) and The Kazimierz Wyka Award for critical and essayistic writing (2010). He received the Minister of Education's Award three times, in 1998, 2001 and 2005, respectively. His books were short-listed for the NIKE Literary Award (2004) and the Jan Długosz Award (2000, 2005). Markowski also received the most prestigious Master Grant in Polish Academia from the Polish Science Foundation for the project Humanities after Deconstruction (2006-2009). Since 2009, he has directed The International Joseph Conrad Literary Festival in Krakow, the biggest literary event of this kind in Central Europe, which takes place annually and gathers over 100 writers from all over the world each year.

Markowski has taught at several American and European universities, including Harvard, Northwestern, Brown, University of Alberta and Stockholm University. In spring 2008, he was a Senior Fellow at the Internationales Forschungszentrum Kulturwissenschaften in Vienna. He is a member of the Editorial Board of several cultural and literary journals, both in the United States and Poland (including "Teksty Drugie", "The Schulz Forum" and "The Slavic Review"), and a frequent contributor to the most important cultural debates in Poland. Since 2010, he has held The Stefan and Lucy Hejna Chair in Polish Language and Literature and directs the Department of Slavic and Baltic Languages and Literatures at The University of Illinois at Chicago.

Markowski is a principal investigator in two grant projects: National Literature and Contemporary Comparative Studies (in Poland; altogether $200,000) and Social Practice, Cultural Trauma and Re-establishing Solid Sovereignties (nine international universities, administered by Trinity College, Dublin, with a total sum of 535,000 euros). He has been appointed as the main curator of an upcoming museum exhibit Life in Search of Forms: Modernisation of Polish Culture (1900-1950), which will place at the National Museum in Warsaw in 2018.

Currently, Markowski is working on a book project that formulates a new conceptualisation and history of European modernism between 1910 and 1950. The first volume is titled Abstraction and Materiality and embraces different events, movements and ideas (from the Great War, through the Golem legends to abstract photography) related to the conflict between an overwhelming tendency to abandon the materiality of human experience and the contrary tendency to display it. Volume Two, The Modernist Life, in its first part analyses the Modernist concept and practice of life and in the second one narrates three "lives" developed in three different cultural and philosophical contexts by three writers: Georg Lukàcs (Hungarian-German), Fernando Pessoa (Portuguese) and Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz (Polish). 

Email: michal.pawel.markowski@uj.edu.pl