Corresponding with Samuel Beckett is an edition of critical essays that forms a major intervention in key debates on the use of Nobel prize winning author Samuel Beckett’s correspondence in literary and cultural studies and in the digital humanities.
What does it mean to correspond with Beckett? How does Beckett’s correspondence give us insight into the work? In what ways are critical reading and writing a form of correspondence with an author? The publication of the fourth and final volume of The Letters of Samuel Beckett marks an appropriate moment to take stock of the role of autobiography in research, and the importance of the epistolary in literary studies. Corresponding with Samuel Beckett examines issues around the development of the grey archive, the use of digital resources, translation, visual metadata, and the role of corollary correspondence. Given Beckett’s hesitation to render the personal public, the book examines what is at stake in negotiating issues of privacy, permissions, and copyright. The book generates new thinking on the letter as artefact, and the textual and stylistic aspects of the epistolary. It explores the legacy of a correspondence project and how the research that underpins it can be deployed for further research. Using literary correspondence and related materials raises older literary questions on authorial intention and reading methodologies that continue to inform literary analysis. In the age of twitter, snapchat and whatsapp correspondence is primarily digital: the edition will question the longevity of contemporary digital correspondence, and explore strategies for future engagement with the epistolary in literary research.
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We are delighted to announce a two-conference series on the topic: Beckett & Italy: “old chestnuts”, new occasions. The first conference will take place at the University of Reading from 7-8 November 2019, and the second will take place at “Sapienza” Università di Roma in May 2020. The following is a call for papers for the upcoming conference at the University of Reading…
“Samuel Beckett came into the world on 13 April 1906. Not only was it an ill-fated Friday the 13th, it was also a Good Friday, the Friday before Easter Sunday, on which the Christian Church commemorates the Crucifixion of Jesus at Calvary. To the superstitiously-minded, any life begun under such ill-fated stars would seem destined for disaster. Throughout his career, Beckett kept thinking back to the unfortunate circumstances of his nativity and the future it seemed to hold. When Judith Schmidt – assistant to American publisher Barney Rosset of Grove Press, New York – wished him many happy returns on 13 April 1962, joking about it being a Friday, he wrote: ‘Very touched by your card and remembrance. I was born on Good Friday 13th, so can’t share your high opinion of the conjunction. And yet when I have the courage to take a quick look back I can see that the miracles haven’t been wanting and that but for them it’s in the better place I’d be for this long time’.” — Dirk Van Hulle and Pim Verhulst
An announcement from the University of Reading: “We are delighted to announce the Mary Bryden Studentship in Beckett Studies at the University of Reading. Supported by an endowment from our colleague Professor Mary Bryden’s Estate, the Ph. D. studentship offers an annual subsistence stipend of £10,000 for 3 years full-time study, or part-time equivalent. The scholarship will also cover full UK/EU tutorial fees, or will make a contribution to overseas fees.”
“New York, NY – 5 December 2018 – The Modern Language Association of America has announced the winner of the eleventh Modern Language Association Prize for a Bibliography, Archive, or Digital Project. The prize will be presented to Mark Nixon, of the University of Reading; Dirk Van Hulle, of the University of Antwerp; Pim Verhulst, of the University of Antwerp; E. Magessa O’Reilly, of Memorial University; and Vincent Neyt, of the University of Antwerp, for the Beckett Digital Manuscript Project (www.beckettarchive.org).”
“The Samuel Beckett Society conference which is taking place in Mexico City next week is providing the inspiration for various initiatives to promote the study and appreciation of the author in the region. Among the most important, and potentially most influential, is the creation of a non-profit organization to coordinate all things Beckett within the country. Conference organizer Luz María Sánchez Cardona explains the idea behind the initiative: ‘It will be called Beckett.Mexico and it will draw in information on all performances, seminars and activities throughout the country.’ She explained that the organization would not be based in any one institution but would operate as a general hub for all those interested in maintaining a connection with the author, both inside and outside the academy. While the specific details of the organization are to be announced during the conference and formalized in its wake, Luz was keen to advertise a particular component of the project and make a direct appeal to attendees next week. ‘One big problem we have is access to books.’ For many reasons, academic texts relating to Beckett’s work are thin on the ground. ‘Whenever I’m abroad in Great Britain, or Denmark say, I always try and bring new texts back with me’, she adds. ‘We want to build a resource of as many books as possible which can allow access to all of those attached to the non-profit organization.’ With this in mind she is appealing to conference attendees to bring a book and donate to the project. Initially, books which would be donated would be housed on permanent loan to a dedicated area in the library of the Universidad Autónoma Metripolitana, Lerma until a suitable space is acquired for the Beckett.Mexico project.
The aims of the Samuel Beckett Society include the promotion of scholarship and understanding of the works as widely as possible. A project which helps scholars in any way, particularly in new places of interest, must be a good thing. We urge all those attending to think about supporting the cause by finding room in their luggage for an extra book if at all possible.”
Conor Carville discusses the role of the Reading archives in the research of his most recent book, Samuel Beckett and the Visual Arts: “The magnificent collection of Samuel Beckett’s manuscripts, notebooks, letters and other material held here at Reading was fundamental to the research for my new book Samuel Beckett and the Visual Arts, which has just come out from Cambridge University Press.”
“On a website ‘filled with the detritus and ephemera of great artists’ (the kind of place you can’t quite summon how you found afterwards and have trouble locating again, as though you dreamt it) there’s a wonderful hunk of little-heard pieces for radio, written by Samuel Beckett. Among them is a 1957 BBC recording of From An Abandoned Work – a monologue (that started in 1954 as a bit of prose) delivered by an old man remembering his youth. It’s unbelievably well acted, by the Armagh-born Patrick Magee, a presence so full of strangeness and charisma and difference and power, the whole thing made me feel like I’d been blindfolded.”