Beckett’s Bodies: Affect, Disability, Performance

SAMLA 85: Durham, NC Nov 13-15, 2015
Samuel Beckett. Photograph: John Minihan
Samuel Beckett. Photograph: John Minihan

The Samuel Beckett Society, Affiliated Session
Conference of the South Atlantic Modern Language Association (SAMLA)
Chair/contact: Michelle Rada, Brown University

This panel seeks to explore the ways in which bodies are figured and disfigured in Beckett’s work. On their own constituting an expansive “body of work,” Beckett’s prose texts, poems, plays, radio, television, and film works posit human, non-human, and inhuman bodies in different and often surprising forms. What kinds of bodies are incorporated, disembodied, or stripped bare in Beckett’s work? How can we trace the life, vulnerability, and survival of the body in single texts and across works? Are Beckettian physical and textual bodies susceptible to or immune from affect? Which bodies, metaphorical or otherwise, are excluded from consideration and care in a quite prolific archive of Beckett criticism? How does the body function and dysfunction across genre and media, prose and performance? The purpose of this panel is to provide a multidisciplinary platform for thinking about the body in Beckett’s work through emerging reading practices, which could engender new connections and ideas for such an extensively critiqued range of texts. In keeping with SAMLA’s theme for the 2015 conference, “In Concert: Literature and the Other Arts,” emphasis placed on thinking across genre, media, and theoretical approaches is encouraged, and will be a significant part of our conversation at this panel.

Possible approaches and topics may include, but are not limited to:

  • Queer bodies in Beckett’s work
  • Beckett and disability studies
  • Bodily capacity and its limits in performance
  • Affect and its embodied forms
  • Gendered bodies and feminist approaches to Beckett
  • Abject and aging bodies, dead bodies, and animal bodies
  • Material bodies and the life of the object
  • Beckett’s body of work and its sustained life in/through/as Beckett criticism
  • The precarious body, vulnerability, and the pains of survival
  • Ill-sensing: perception and the phenomenological body in Beckett
  • Food studies, consuming bodies, oral fixations, sucking stones
  • Sex and reproduction in Beckett
  • Adaptations of Beckett and the political, gendered, and racialized body
  • Dance, stage directions, choreography, and demands on the performing body

Please send a 250-300 word abstract, a brief bio, and any questions to: michelle_rada@brown.edu by 1 June 2015.

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