3 November 2017 • University of Reading

About the Conference

For many prominent figures of modern literature, the ‘space of literature’ and the idea of the novel seem to be a context for revealing ways of escape from limitations of expressing the self. In Beckett, this desire is reversed, and instead of an attempt to spread the self so that its emancipatory power will not be paralyzed by anxiety and despair, we have a move to terminate all illusionary freedom, and return to the most radical impotence and non-expressive writing and bareness of being. So how it would be possible for future writers to formulate the future of literature and literary ‘expression’ after Beckett’s literary revolution? If Beckett introduces a kind of writing that attempts to suspend all talking, all imagination in literary language which opens up literary inventiveness, and at the same time offering an ‘obligation to write’, how we can even think about the possibility of modern literature in the post-Beckett era? The dilemma of writing after Beckett could be seen as the dilemma of overcoming the strong desire toward expressive aspects in writing, whilst at the same time accepting that the necessity of literature will be of the nature of any literary creation after Beckett. This conference will ask what is means to write ‘after the end’ of writing, in Beckett.


10.00 – 11.30 Panel 1 – Chair: Liam Harrison

  1. Douglas Atkinson (Free University of Brussels),“Hell is Empty”: Apocalyptic Language and the End of Literature in Beckett and Blanchot
  2. Thomas Thoelen (The Centre for Literary and Intermedial Crossings CLIC), “like a kindling fire, a dying fire” The ‘Techno-Logic’ of Beginning and Ending in Beckett’s The Unnamable
  3. Afia Shahid (Government College Women University Faisalabad, Pakistan), Samuel Beckett’s The Unnamable and the Mystique of Silence in Literature

11.45 – 12.45 Keynote 1 – Andrew Gibson (Royal Holloway, University of London), “bending over me in my old dying-bed”: Beckett, the Phantasms of Modernity and the End of Literature

Chair: Farhad Mehrabi

13.00 – 14.00 Lunch

14.00 – 15.00 Keynote 2 – Shane Weller (University of Kent), ‘Towards a Literature of the Unword: Late Modernism in Europe’

Chair: Thirthankar Chakraborty

15.15 – 16.15 Panel 2 – Chair: Thomas Thoelen

  1. Thirthankar Chakraborty (University of Kent), Beckett and Translation: Towards an Acanonical Literature
  2. Liam Harrison (Trinity College Dublin), ‘Nothing is Left to Tell’: Bailegangaire (The Town without Laughter) and the Post-Beckett Storytelling of Tom Murphy


Tickets: £15 full price, £10 students and unwaged

Register at the University of Reading Store.

More Information

Visit the Beckett At Reading Postgraduate and Early Careers Group (BARP) website.

Organised by Farhad Mehrabi. For more information, get in touch at F.Mehrabi@pgr.reading.ac.uk.

Venue: Museum of English Rural Life, University of Reading, 6 Redlands Rd, Reading, England RG1 5EX

This conference is supported by the Samuel Beckett Research Centre.

Posted by:Rhys Tranter

Rhys Tranter is a writer based in Cardiff, Wales, UK. He is the author of Beckett's Late Stage (2018), and his work has appeared in the Times Literary Supplement, The Spectator, and a number of books and periodicals. He holds a BA, MA, and a PhD in English Literature. His website RhysTranter.com is a personal journal offering commentary and analysis across literature, film, music, and the arts.

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