The Autumn 2020 Issue of The Beckett Circle is Now Available Online

Inside this issue The second issue of the Beckett Circle to be posted in the time of pandemic bears the scars of the community’s endurance of uncertainty and loss. As performance, in its normal sense has disappeared, we hear from practitioners Sarah Jane Scaife and Cathal Quinn about their attempts to overcome the restricted environment.…

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The Spring 2020 Issue of The Beckett Circle is Now Available Online

“This issue covers performances in the US (among them the Happy Days Renaissance Theaterworks production in downtown Milwaukee and Richard Sullivan Jr.’s Waiting for Godot in Providence, RI), Australia (Mark Byron reviews the Red Line Productions’ staging of Krapp’s Last Tape at the Old Fitz Theatre in Sydney), London, Paris and Dublin. We have rich resources to rethink the Beckett oeuvre in the context of contemporary music, as the Farmleigh Music and Arts festival and the What is the Word… concert organised by Benjamin Dwyer at the Centre Culturel Irlandaise in Paris show. A panel on the Battle of Ideas Festival at the Barbican, the role played by Beckett in shaping the “Fail Better” series of the Poet in the City at Wilton’s Music Hall in London, and an account of number of symposia keep demonstrating Beckett’s continuous cultural importance…”

— Extract from the joint President’s Address from Daniela Caselli (sitting president) and Laura Salisbury (president elect).

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Sex and Gender in Samuel Beckett’s Work

The titles of Samuel Beckett’s two early novels show a taste for salaciousness and provocation that did not disappear in later years, and led to his being expelled from the family home and censored in Ireland. If obscenity became more subdued afterwards, and if sexuality tended to disappear from an increasingly abstract universe, sex, of an often crude kind, is a recurring feature of the Beckettian text. As for sexuality, in its normative version, it is systematically thwarted by the powerlessness and horror of procreation displayed by Beckett’s male characters, whose sexual behaviour “deviates” from the heterosexual paradigm (anality, onanism).

Sex questions the relationship to the other, as a sexual partner and in its gendered dimension. But this relationship is not a straightforward one in Beckett. Before the trilogy, female characters are essentially derealized (either through idealization or belittling, see Mercier, Bryden, Ben-Zvi, McMullan), while male characters are devirilized (Bjørnerud). Moreover, the question of connection and autonomy, central to the fiction and even more to the theatre, is experienced in sexual encounters with particular acuteness. The promise of a union, or even of fusion with the other, stumbles against an impossibility that feeds the melancholy of many characters. Considering that the sexual act is both material and spiritual, it can be traumatic but is also a source of humour and comedy.

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Beckett & Italy: Call for Papers for an Academic Conference in Reading

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…

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Paris Workshop: Beckett, Phenomenology and Ecology, AUP

Phenomenology, from its classical roots in Husserl to its more contemporary intersections with ecology, re-imagines relations between the human and its surroundings. How might phenomenology, then, inspire innovative readings of Beckett’s work around ecological crisis, climate change, and environmental instability? We are envisioning an informal, collegial gathering of scholars of literature and philosophy on 21 June, at The American University of Paris, where we will approach this question from a variety of angles, anchored in reading three Beckett texts and one article on eco-phenomenology. We are eager to bring together scholars thinking with the phenomenological tradition expansively, from Husserl to Merleau-Ponty to Henry, and to include scholars with a variety of approaches to literary texts, from political to comparative to philosophical to psychoanalytic. We are not aiming for the workshop to produce a “product,” but we do hope to explore whether there may be ways for the discussions to continue in future years. We imagine pre-circulating Beckett texts in French and English, with discussion itself taking place primarily in English, and with a couple workshop participants kicking off discussion of each text with informal opening reflections. The workshop is convened by Amanda Dennis and Vincent Lloyd.

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