Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Beckett in Theory 2011/12


I was like all the other students of philosophy at the time, and for me, the rupture came with Beckett: Waiting for Godot, a breath-taking spectacle. - Michel Foucault
Bruno Clement, writing of early critical responses to Beckett's Trilogy by, amongst others, George Bataille, Maurice Blanchot, and Alain Robbe-Grillet, notes that they are all written "under influence."
I mean... their content is indebted, in more than one way, depending on the particular case, to the discourse used by the work itself.
Writing "under influence," philosophers from Bataille to Badiou have chosen to write their philosophy through Beckett. Richard Begam, Anthony Uhlmann, Steven Connor, Leslie Hill, Thomas Trezise, and other notable Beckett critics have commented extensively on the impact this has had in the realm of Beckett studies. Andrew Gibson has demonstrated the reciprocal impact Beckett has upon a reading of Badiou, for whom Beckett constitutes "a sort of subjective blow, the imprint of which is ineffaceable." If, as Begam writes, "Beckett's own peculiar idiom has entered into, in a sense has become, the dominant cultural language of the last fifty years", critical theory itself always comes "after" a certain kind of Beckett.

The theme for the reading group meetings over 2011/2012 will be "Beckett in Theory". By this, we mean to read those texts by theorists responding directly to Beckett. If "Beckett" is a quilting point that surfaces again and again in theory in the second half of the twentieth century, it is because Beckett's work is seen as particularly receptive to the ideas of the thinkers themselves. As such, the way "Beckett" is taken up by a theorist is as illustrative of a particular thinker's philosophy as it is of Beckett's actual oeuvre. We will discuss how reading "Beckett" becomes a means to reading theory by earmarking those theorists whose responses to Beckett elucidate concerns in their general philosophies.


The following is a programme of reading group meetings held through the 2011/12 Academic Year:


Wednesday 5th October: Maurice Blanchot 'Where Now? Who Now?': Review of The Unnameable

Douglas Jefferson Room, School of English, 5:15 pm 
Introduced by Arthur Rose

Tuesday 25th October: Theodor Adorno 'Trying to Understand Endgame'

Douglas Jefferson Room, School of English, 5.15 pm
Introduced by Michael Springer

Tuesday 15th November: Gilles Deleuze 'The Exhausted'

Douglas Jefferson Room, School of English, 5.15 pm
Introduced by Dr Ruth Kitchen

Tuesday 6th December: Georges Bataille, 'Molloy's Silence'

Douglas Jefferson Room, School of English, 5.15 pm
Introduced by Dr Claire Lozier

Tuesday 31st January: Stanley Cavell 'Ending the Waiting Game: A Reading of Beckett's "Endgame"'

Seminar Room 5, School of English, 5.15 pm
Introduced by Michael Springer

Tuesday 21st February: Simon Critchley 'Lecture 3 Know happiness- On Beckett'

pp. 165-208 of Very LittleAlmost Nothing
Douglas Jefferson Room, School of English, 5.15 pm
Introduced by Dr Richard Brown

Tuesday 13th March: Alain Badiou 'The Writing of the Generic'

Douglas Jefferson Room, School of English, 5.15 pm
Introduced by Michael Kelly

Tuesday 17th April: J.M. Coetzee 'Eight Ways of Looking at Samuel Beckett'

Douglas Jefferson Room, School of English, 5.15pm
Introduced by Dr Sam Durrant