The Samuel Beckett Working Group will be meeting at the IFTR International Federation for Theatre Research Annual Conference 2022.
IFTR 2022’s conference theme, Shifting Centres (In the Middle of Nowhere), is apposite for the Samuel Beckett Working Group, as well as for our times (https://iftr.org/conference/call-for-papers). Beckett’s work has spoken readily to many over the last two years of lockdown and isolation. We are tentatively and unevenly emerging from the pandemic’s chokehold on our scholarly and artistic endeavours, while also beginning to examine how marked our practices now are by the conditions of lockdown. We may also be finding ourselves struck simultaneously by the images of inequality and injustices that the pandemic has exposed. This is surely a time when Beckett’s words and the unstable geographies of his work might help us to articulate ‘nowhereness’ on the one hand, and the uniquely unstable somewhere between the real and the virtual in which we find ourselves, on the other. We might move, tentatively, toward considering Beckett’s shifting centres in the wake of the pandemic and in light of the awareness of looming climate catastrophe. Beckett’s work speaks readily to what it looks like when the middle is a precarious nowhere. We might question, like Hamm in Endgame, if we remain in the centre, all the while knowing the precarious and unstable nature of such a project. We face challenges in recalibrating our ways of being in the world after the weight of this new knowledge and in light of the potential for further disruption, new pandemics perhaps, or destabilisations brought about by climate change. We no longer travel lightly, if we ever did.
The Samuel Beckett Working Group welcomes papers addressing the conference theme as well as, as is customary, accepting papers on any topic related to Beckett’s drama. One of the issues that we may choose to consider is to do with pandemic theatre in all its immateriality and virtuality. Beckett’s work has been finding new media and new audiences in online and digital spaces and has resonated with the digital and the virtual spaces of our shared existence in 2020 and 2021. As well as this, the conference opens room for critical reflection on Beckett’s status globally, as well as the modes through which European centrality is both perpetuated and challenged by the creative adoptions, adaptations, and appropriations of Beckett’s work within a wide range of globalised contexts. Antoinette Nwandu’s Pass Over for instance, inspired by Waiting for Godot, sees Beckett’s play offer a structure around which Nwandu hosts a conversation about race, class, and power. Like Paul Chan’s Waiting for Godot in New Orleans, this form of re-writing or re-placing brings Beckett’s work into conversation with the critical issues shaping our cultural and artistic consciousness in the present.
Suggestions, therefore, for paper topics include, but are not limited to,
- The aesthetics and politics of ‘nowhere’ in Beckett’s drama
- The aesthetics and politics of ‘somewhere’ in productions of Beckett’s theatre
- Beckett and the binary of centre and periphery
- The global Beckett, Beckett’s expanding geographies
- Adaptations and appropriations of Beckett’s drama
- Beckett and online theatre and performance
We welcome new and longstanding members and hope that this event will be an in-person one.
Should you have questions about the meeting, please contact Trish McTighe (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Submission of Abstracts & Information about the Group
Abstract submissions are via the IFTR Cambridge Core portal. Please note that you must be a member in order to submit: https://www.cambridge.org/core/membership/iftr. The deadline for submissions for working group papers is 31st January 2022.
Papers of up to 3000 words in length are to be distributed by 5th June 2022.
For information about the general conference, please check the IFTR website. Please also check for updates on the Samuel Beckett Working Group page [https://www.iftr.org/working-groups/samuel-beckett]
Please note that papers to be presented at the Working Group are distributed and read by all the participants ahead of the meeting. At the Working Group sessions presenters give short résumés of their work, followed by a lengthy discussion period (each presenter has 30 to 45 minutes in all, depending on the number of presenters).
Photo: F. Ó Faoláin