Samuel Beckett and the Politics of Aftermath

“[James McNaughton’s] Samuel Beckett and the Politics of Aftermath explores Beckett’s literary responses to the political maelstroms of his formative and middle years: the Irish civil war and the crisis of commitment in 1930s Europe, the rise of fascism and the atrocities of World War II. Archive yields a Beckett who monitored propaganda in speeches and newspapers, and whose creative work engages with specific political strategies, rhetoric, and events. Finally, Beckett’s political aesthetic sharpens into focus.

Deep within form, Beckett models ominous historical developments as surely as he satirizes artistic and philosophical interpretations that overlook them. He burdens aesthetic production with guilt: imagination and language, theater and narrative, all parallel political techniques. Beckett comically embodies conservative religious and political doctrines; he plays Irish colonial history against contemporary European horrors; he examines aesthetic complicity in effecting atrocity and covering it up. This book offers insightful, original, and vivid readings of Beckett’s work up to Three Novels and Endgame.”

— Oxford University Press

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New Book: Beckett’s Intuitive Spectator by Michelle Chiang

“Beckett’s Intuitive Spectator: Me to Play investigates how audience discomfort, instead of a side effect of a Beckett pedagogy, is a key spectatorial experience which arises from an everyman intuition of loss. With reference to selected works by Henri Bergson, Immanuel Kant and Gilles Deleuze, this book charts the processes of how an audience member’s habitual way of understanding could be frustrated by Beckett’s film, radio, stage and television plays. Michelle Chiang explores the ways in which Beckett exploited these mediums to reconstitute an audience response derived from intuition.” — Palgrave Macmillan

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“What was it about Samuel Beckett? In addition to writing fiction and plays that continue to absorb audiences and tease the imagination, the Nobel Laureate attracted collaborators in life and continues to extend his influence today. Writers from Harold Pinter to John Banville have acknowledged their debt to him, but it’s also a legacy that goes beyond words.”

The Irish Times

ECR Travel Bursaries from the Samuel Beckett Society

The Samuel Beckett Society is pleased to offer 4 travel bursaries of the value of £300 each to Early Career Researchers wishing to attend the annual conference in Mexico City in November 2018.

‘Early Career Researcher’ describes any scholar of any nationality not yet holding a permanent salaried position. Your contribution must have already been accepted by the Conference Organisers.

Please send a 400-word description of your contribution to daniela.caselli@manchester.ac.uk by 5 September 2018. An anonymous committee of Beckett scholars will rank the proposals and the Society will get back to you via e-mail by 11 September 2018.

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“Soft Border. Hard Beckett.”

“This latest Godot is part of the Happy Days: International Beckett Festival, now in its sixth edition, which shares August with the somewhat newer Lughnasa Frielfest, dedicated to another famous Irish playwright and located further up the Brexit frontline, at venues in Derry and Donegal. ” Frank McNally, The Irish Times

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On Morton Feldman and his work with Beckett how is Neither for you distinct from Words and Music in terms of tone and mood?

Liam Browne: Neither was written for a solo high soprano voice and the text is stretched across a one hour-long period making the text indistinct whereas every word in Words and Music is accounted for and is spoken rather than sung.  Different genres of course, one is prose/short story and the other a play.  Beckett didn’t approve of one genre being transferred into another which is why in our rendering of neither on bespoke billboards we are treating the billboards as the page.”

Read the full Q&A with Liam Browne over at marlbank

Rethinking difference and disability with Samuel Beckett

“In July 2012, at the performance workshop of the second Samuel Beckett Summer School, I sat in the Players Theatre and watched Rosemary Pountney (1937-2016) try to walk in Footfalls in precisely the way that Samuel Beckett had showed her. Though the costume she wore was the original dress and hardly the worse for wear, with time her body had moved on to a different style of movement, with a different level of control, and to take each required step in the way her body once knew, for the full duration of the piece, was no longer within her capacity.

Watching her move, and then watching as the lights moved across the stage where her footfalls would have once been, what I thought about acting and accessibility changed forever. Watching this performing body with the genuine, inimitable traces of age, I felt the ghostly resonances of the text in a completely new way. That day I traded my old answers for new questions: how could anyone say to Rosemary that she should no longer communicate her embodied knowledge, merely because it might have migrated from an earlier authorial ideal? And when was it ever ideal in the first place? What would a “perfect” performance even mean in the context of Beckett, that poet of failure? Instead of demanding sameness in our theatre, what can we learn from difference?” — Nicholas Johnson

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