A reminder that the deadline of 30 May is approaching for submission of abstracts for the 8th Annual Samuel Beckett Society conference which will be held virtually in December of 2023.
Responding to the growing awareness of anthropogenic climate change and the need to reduce the environmental impact of academic travel, the Samuel Beckett Society is proposing its first completely online conference. By using online resources to host the event, we are also hoping to foreground accessibility and open up participation to speakers across the world.
The theme for our 2023 conference is ‘Beckett’s Environments’. We will look to explore the ways in which much of Beckett’s work emerges from the evocation of a ‘corpsed’ world, staggering on in the wake of an unnamed disaster. Does Beckett have anything to offer those looking to avert ecological destruction and climate crisis, or is he just a tour guide to scenes approaching extinction in which action is always necessarily too late? Greg Garrard has argued in his eco-critical reading of Endgame that Beckett unflinchingly breaks down the idea that nature might be nurturing and autonomous (2011), while Anna McMullan draws on the idea of ecosystems to read Beckett’s world-making and world-destroying theatrical practices (2021). Some have found an eco-poetics of extinction in Beckett’s work (McTighe, 2022), while others have paid attention to Beckett’s rhythms of ‘slow violence’ that match a world of ecological catastrophe in which it feels as if there is no time to wait, and yet waiting is all we can do (Salisbury, 2022). Leo Bersani’s intriguing description of an ‘ecological ethics’ as ‘one in which the subject, having willed its own lessness, can live less invasively in the world’ (2010), implies, at least, that Beckett’s work might have something to say to a planet struggling with the ongoing legacies of extractivism, accumulation and relationships between the human and more-than-human world in which sustenance cannot be taken for granted.
This event builds on the work of ‘Beckett and the Anthropocene’ (Trinity College Dublin) and ‘Beckett and Nature’ (Lyon College) by opening up the relationship between Beckett’s work and environmental concerns. It also seeks to think expansively about the term ‘environment’, considering topics like atmosphere (Anderson 2009) or the world systems that allow ideas and influences to produce a sense of an environment in which aesthetic practices grow. How are ideas of influence or intertextuality reconfigured if we understand them as relations within intellectual and aesthetic ecosystems?
Topics for papers might include, but are not limited to:
Beckett and catastrophe
Beckett and ecological ethics
Beckett and the Anthropocene
Beckett and extinction
Beckett and the weather
Beckett’s intellectual and aesthetic environments
Beckett and the more-than-human
Beckett and accumulation/lessness
The conference will be held on 1st and 2nd December 2023.
Please send 300 word abstracts to email@example.com by 30 May 2023.
The Beckett Society recognises the importance of ‘company’, and will organise the conference according to the principles outlined in this paper. We will look to prioritise the elements of conviviality that are central to the Society’s events. The conference will be low fee and will use a system of tiered donations so that the event is open to all.