News and developments in the world of Beckett Studies
In the summer of 2008, James and Elizabeth Knowlson contributed a vast collection of Beckett's letters, manuscripts and interviews with his friends to the Beckett International Archive at Reading University. To celebrate the occasion, an academic conference will be taking place in September 2009, and will be attended by some of the leading scholars in contemporary Beckett criticism.
In addition, talks and displays are being organized to coincide with the conference; these aim to explore the historical and cultural significance of the Knowlson collection, and what it means for future academic scholarship.
Reading University is one of the world's leading institutions for Beckett study, and holds an international reputation for its academic research resources. In the first issue of Beckett News, published this month, the university reveals further details of the upcoming conference, the Knowlson collection, and their cooperation with Faber and Faber to enhance and expand recent editions of Beckett's prose, poetry and drama:
Beckett – Living Materials:
International Conference and Research Opportunities Symposium
25-26 September 2009
Beckett Conference 2009: Humanity and Animality in Beckett
On Friday 25 and Saturday 26 September, the Beckett International Foundation is organizing a Beckett Symposium to celebrate the acquisition of the Knowlson archive. This will include a conference constituting a preliminary stage to a project on animality in relation to Beckett’s work being prepared by Mary Bryden and entitled A Beckett bestiary. The conference, Humanity and Animality in Beckett, will bring together an international line-up of scholars who will read papers over the two days. Key acquisitions from the Knowlson collection will be on display in the Reading Room and delegates will have the opportunity to handle some of these materials. Mark Nixon and Dirk Van Hulle, University of Antwerp, will present the Beckett Digital Manuscript Project as a ‘work in progress’, and Bill Prosser's doodle drawings will be on display. There will also be a theatrical performance (which is yet to be confirmed) and a round table discussion of the research opportunities arising from the acquisition of the Knowlson collection. Further details of the symposium will be available on the BIF website: www.beckettfoundation.org.uk
The Beckett Digital Manuscript ProjectThe Beckett Digital Manuscript Project is an international collaboration under the auspices of the [Beckett International Foundation], the Centre for Manuscript Genetics at the University of Antwerp and the Harry Ransom Center, Austin, Texas, and supported by the Estate of Samuel Beckett and the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris. Mark Nixon and Dirk Van Hulle are the co-directors. Mark and Dirk are also collaborating on Samuel Beckett’s library, a joint monograph which examines the reading traces in the books held in Beckett’s library at the time of his death. Mark is editing a book on Beckett and publishing (British Library, 2010), with John Pilling, Andrew Nash and Sean Lawlor among the contributors.
Reading and Faber & FaberFaber, which has acquired the rights to Beckett's prose, poetry and criticism from Calder, is republishing Beckett's works in uniform ‘Readers’ editions’, intended for the general public, and ‘Critical editions’ addressed to a more academic audience. The Beckett International Foundation is contributing facsimiles from the holdings at Reading, which will be used to illustrate the Readers’ editions. Reading scholars are very much to the fore in providing introductions to the Readers’ editions and lending their erudition to the Critical editions. Ronan McDonald wrote the preface for the new Faber edition of Endgame that was published in May 2009. James Knowlson is writing the preface to Happy days and Mary Bryden to Waiting for Godot. Mark Nixon is editing a Readers' Edition of Samuel Beckett: shorter fiction 1950–1981 and preparing a Critical Edition of the short story Echo's bones, both are due to be published next year. Sean Lawlor and John Pilling are working on the Critical edition of the Collected poems of Samuel Beckett to be published in 2011.
Reading University: Beckett News, June 2009, Issue 1 (PDF format)
Reading University: Beckett News, June 2009, Issue 1 (HTML format)