International Beckett

A call for papers for a panel at the upcoming ACLA conference in Utrecht, July 2017
Samuel Beckett’s passport photographs.

Neil Doshi and James McNaughton are putting together a panel entitled ‘International Beckett’ for next year’s ACLA conference at Universiteit Utrecht, Netherlands. The seminar will comprise 8-12 participants, meeting for 2 hours on each of the conference’s 3 days. You will present a 20 minute paper, and then have an opportunity to discuss your work with likeminded scholars and enthusiasts.

About the Panel

Building on the body of criticism that evaluates the translation, international reception, and political aesthetic of Samuel Beckett’s work, this seminar proposes to revisit questions about Beckett’s global reach. We will take a two-pronged approach. Beyond questions of translation, adaptation, and dissemination, we wish to discuss how Beckett’s oeuvre has shaped literary movements, conceptions of committed art, and avant-garde aesthetics internationally. Second, we seek papers that freshly attend to how Beckett’s writing itself formally engages political-aesthetic debates.


Questions that inspire this seminar include:

  • Are the formal attributes of Beckett’s work—its focus on ignorance and impotence, doubt and erasure—counter-hegemonic cultural forms or not? Have Beckett’s aesthetic forms provided valid models of resistance for other writers?
  • Is there a relationship between the transnational aspects of Beckett’s writing and its political aesthetic?
  • How have conceptions of Beckett’s “style” impacted discussions about literary form and aesthetics in non-European settings, particularly those marked by colonial history?
  • Beckett translated his own and others’ work. How can we better understand the consequences of moving between source text and translation?
  • How do international translators into a third language contend with the challenge of being able to draw from two source texts, in French and in English, for many of his works?
  • Can Beckett be rightly thought of as a post-colonial writer? If so, how so? If not, why not?
  • When we consider Beckett in the pantheon of “world literature,” how does it shape our understanding of what world literature might be? What in Beckett’s work might the representation of borders and what Peter Boxall calls the “apprehension of totality” – the availability of a global perspective post-WWII—tell us about prevailing notions of the world and the global?

Submission portal:

The deadline for submissions is 23 September 2016.

More Information

Find out more about the panel, and the 2017 conference, at the official website of the American Comparative Literature Association (ACLA).

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