AJL24049 Samuel Beckett in Context

Faculty of Arts
Autumn 2019
Extent and Intensity
0/2/0. 6 credit(s). Recommended Type of Completion: zk (examination). Other types of completion: z (credit).
James Joseph Little, M.Phil., Ph.D. (lecturer)
Guaranteed by
doc. PhDr. Jana Chamonikolasová, Ph.D.
Department of English and American Studies - Faculty of Arts
Contact Person: Tomáš Hanzálek
Supplier department: Department of English and American Studies - Faculty of Arts
Wed 14:00–15:40 G32
Course Enrolment Limitations
The course is also offered to the students of the fields other than those the course is directly associated with.
The capacity limit for the course is 10 student(s).
Current registration and enrolment status: enrolled: 6/10, only registered: 0/10, only registered with preference (fields directly associated with the programme): 0/10
fields of study / plans the course is directly associated with
there are 21 fields of study the course is directly associated with, display
Course objectives
This course will analyse Samuel Beckett’s work as a poet, critic, prose writer and dramatist for stage, screen and radio, addressing some of the central debates in Beckett criticism. By the end of the course, students will be familiar with major texts in Beckett’s canon as well as key theoretical, philosophical and methodological debates surrounding the study of his work. We will also examine some of Beckett’s compositional manuscripts and discuss the impact that the publication of such material is having on Beckett studies.
  • Week 1 Beckett the poet: ‘The Vulture’; ‘Gnome’; ‘Cascando’; ‘what would I do without this world’; ‘something there’; ‘what is the word’ (please read these short texts before our first class; all in Selected Poems, 1930–1988)
    Week 2 Beckett the novelist: Murphy
    Week 3 Beckett ‘undoing’: Watt
    Week 4 Learning to ‘say I’: Molloy
    Week 5 Learning to say ‘not I’: The Unnamable
    Week 6 Beckett in space (1): Waiting for Godot
    Week 7 Beckett’s media: All That Fall; Quad
    Week 8 Beckett in space (2): Endgame
    Week 9 Beckett’s bodies: Not I*; That Time; Footfalls
    Week 10 Beckett’s imaginations (1): Imagination Dead Imagine; All Strange Away
    Week 11 Beckett’s imaginations (2): Company [guest lecturer, Dr Georgina Nugent-Folan, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München]
    Week 12 No class: submit paper proposal for final essay by email.
    *Please watch the BBC version of Not I (first broadcast 1976), available on YouTube.

    NOTE: There will be no class on 23 October. This class has been rescheduled for Wednesday 30 October (during Reading Week) at the same time (14:00–15:40) in the same classroom (G 32).
Assessment methods
Students will be assessed on an end-of-semester essay of 3,000 words, written according to MLA style. Each student will submit a 250-word paper proposal on their final paper topic in Week 12, along with a list of at least three sources in MLA Style.
Active participation in class discussion and the giving of a presentation is required in order to receive a credit for the course. Discussion questions will be sent out prior to class. Aside from week 1, each class will feature a short presentation (10–15 minutes) by members of the class.
Language of instruction
Further comments (probably available only in Czech)
Study Materials
The course is taught only once.
Teacher's information
It is strongly recommended that you read the following text before the course starts: James Knowlson, Damned to Fame: The Life of Samuel Beckett (London: Bloomsbury, 1996).

All primary texts, as well as some secondary texts, will be available on the ELF system as PDF or EPUB files. (A good EPUB reader is available here: www.calibre-ebook.com.) It is crucial that you bring the primary texts (in print or digital form) to class so we can discuss them each week.

Primary texts
The Complete Dramatic Works (London: Faber, 1986)
Proust and Three Dialogues with Georges Duthuit (London: Calder, 1965)
Selected Poems 1930–1989, ed. by David Wheatley (London: Faber, 2009)
Texts for Nothing and Other Shorter Prose, ed. by Mark Nixon (London: Faber, 2010)
The Unnamable, ed. by Steven Connor (London: Faber, 2010)
Watt, ed. by Chris Ackerley (London: Faber, 2009)

Secondary texts: monographs and reference works
H. Porter Abbott, Beckett Writing Beckett: The Author in the Autograph (London: Cornell University Press, 1996)
Chris Ackerley and S. E. Gontarski, The Grove Companion to Samuel Beckett: A Reader’s Guide to His Works, Life, and Thought (New York: Grove Press, 2004)
Jonathan Bignell, Beckett on Screen (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2008)
Daniela Caselli, Beckett’s Dantes: Intertextuality in the Fiction and Criticism (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2009)
Ruby Cohn, A Beckett Canon (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2001)
Steven Connor, Samuel Beckett: Repetition, Theory, and Text (Oxford: Blackwell, 1988)
Jonathan Kalb, Beckett in Performance (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989)
Mark Nixon, Samuel Beckett’s German Diaries 1936–1937 (London: Continuum, 2011)
John Pilling, Beckett before Godot (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997)
Anthony Uhlmann, Beckett and Poststructuralism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999)
Dirk Van Hulle, Manuscript Genetics, Joyce’s Know-How, Beckett’s Nohow (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2008)
Dirk Van Hulle and Mark Nixon, Samuel Beckett’s Library (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013)
Shane Weller, Beckett, Literature, and the Ethics of Alterity (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006)

Secondary texts: essay collections
S.E. Gontarski, ed., A Companion to Samuel Beckett (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010)
S.E. Gontarski, ed., The Edinburgh Companion to Samuel Beckett and the Arts (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2014)
Anthony Uhlmann, ed., Samuel Beckett in Context (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013)
Dirk Van Hulle, ed., The New Cambridge Companion to Samuel Beckett (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015)

Secondary texts by Beckett
Disjecta: Miscellaneous Writings and a Dramatic Fragment, ed. by Ruby Cohn (London: Calder, 1983)
The Letters of Samuel Beckett, ed. by Lois More Overbeck, George Craig, Dan Gunn and Martha Fehsenfeld, four volumes (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009–16)
The Theatrical Notebooks of Samuel Beckett, gen. ed. James Knowlson, four volumes (London: Faber, 1993–99)

Online resources
The Journal of Beckett Studies (JOBS) and Samuel Beckett Today / Aujourd’hui (SBT/A) are the two journals of record in the field. JOBS is available here: www.euppublishing.com/loi/jobs. Back issues of SBT/A are available at www.jstor.org. (Free registration required.)

You can explore Beckett’s compositional manuscripts on the Beckett Digital Manuscript Project, available to through the MUNI library at https://ezdroje.muni.cz/prehled/zdroj.php?lang=cs&id=504.
Most of the Beckett on Film productions of Beckett’s plays are available on YouTube.

  • Enrolment Statistics (recent)
  • Permalink: https://is.muni.cz/course/phil/autumn2019/AJL24049