International Conference, University of York, June 23-26, 2011
“My texts are in a terrible mess.”
In the wake of his 2006 centenary, Samuel Beckett’s prestige has continued to grow. His work has a continuing resonance in the public sphere, as the recent high-profile publication of the first volume of his letters shows, and the field of Beckett studies remains central to developments in the understanding of modernism. Beckett’s oeuvre is also celebrated for its transcendence of specific cultural and historical contexts, a situation that appears to pull against his increasing historical importance.
A major gathering of academics, artists, and writers, the conference will take up the question of how to place Beckett as a late modernist. We shall encourage a dialogue between frequently polarized critical approaches, asking what sort of Beckett we want out of the archive. Despite the complexity of the still-growing archives, their intellectual force is only beginning to be examined. Is Beckett’s work rejuvenated or embalmed by historical treatment, and does his continued importance to theory mark a point of resistance or potential for an historical approach? Is Beckett saved by, or must he be saved from, the archive?
Suggested topics for papers include:
• Beckett’s position within modernism and modernist studies
• How emerging methodologies inform our use and understanding of the archive
• The status of the ‘grey’ canon and the boundaries of the oeuvre
• Beckett’s cultural, economic, and political capital now
• How models of influence are sustained by and/or undermined by Beckett’s work
• The complexities of Beckett’s national and intellectual contexts
The event is supported by the Department of English and Related Literature at the University of York, York’s new interdisciplinary Centre for Modern Studies, the Modern Humanities Research Association, and the journal Modernism/modernity. The keynote speakers will be Simon Critchley (The New School), Lois Overbeck (Emory University), and Jean-Michel Rabaté (University of Pennsylvania), and scholars from eleven countries will present invited papers. We have also planned an innovative series of events surrounding the academic component, including contributions from a number of major figures influenced in particular ways by Beckett. Confirmed guests include Booker Prize-winning novelist John Banville, the distinguished photographer John Minihan, and Nobel Prize-winning author J. M. Coetzee.
Proposals of up to 250 words for papers of 25 minutes are invited. Postgraduate students are strongly encouraged to apply. Please submit all proposals by October 15, 2010.
Peter Fifield (St John’s College, University of Oxford)
Lawrence Rainey and Bryan Radley (University of York)
Department of English and Related Literature,
University of York,
York, YO10 5DD,
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