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Corresponding with Beckett

Corresponding with Beckett: The Epistolary in Literary Research

Date: 1-2 June 2018

Times: 12.00–18.30

Duration: 2 days

Register by  25 May 2018 (attendance on individual days is possible).

Location: Institute of English Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London, Senate House, Malet St, London WC1E 7HU. Nearest underground stations Goodge Street (Northern Line) and Russell Square (Piccadilly Line).

Corresponding with Beckett focuses the issues and methodologies pertinent to research on literary correspondence. The training will be relevant to researchers working with literary correspondence as part of their research; engaging with research on a correspondence project; looking to develop or utilise the research that co-relates to a correspondence project; anticipate working as editors or researchers on literary correspondence; interested in the future of correspondence as a research resource in the digital age. While open to scholars across all periods, the training will focus on the Modern and the Contemporary, taking the recently completed Samuel Beckett Letters Project, published by Cambridge University Press as The Letters of Samuel Beckett (2009–2016) as an exemplar.

What does it mean to correspond with an author? How does an author’s correspondence give us insight into the work? In what ways are critical reading and writing a form of correspondence with an author? What would it mean to perform the epistolary? The publication of the fourth and final volume of The Letters of Samuel Beckett marks an appropriate moment to take stock of the role of autobiography in research, and the importance of the epistolary in literary studies. A recent review by Cal Revely-Calder cautions that letters ‘are not propositions, manifestos, or statements of intent’, but rather ‘rough forays, conducted in private’. Corresponding with Beckett raises issues around the development of the grey archive, the use of digital resources, translation, visual metadata, and the role of corollary correspondence. Given Beckett’s hesitation to render the personal public, the conference will address how we negotiate issues of privacy, permissions, and copyright. It will generate new thinking on the letter as artefact, the textual and stylistic aspects of the epistolary, and will explore the legacy of a correspondence project and how the research that underpins it can be deployed for further research. Using literary correspondence and related materials raises older literary questions on authorial intention and reading methodologies that continue to inform literary analysis. In the age of snapchat and whatsapp correspondence is primarily digital: the conference will question the longevity of contemporary digital correspondence, and explore strategies for future engagement with the epistolary in literary research.

The training will be facilitated by

Lois Overbeck, Managing Editor The Letters of Samuel Beckett (CUP 2009-16) and Director of The Correspondence of Samuel Beckett Project, Emory College of Arts and Sciences.

Jennifer M. Jeffers, Professor of English, Cleveland State University. Editor:  New Interpretations of Samuel Beckett in the Twenty-First Century, Palgrave Macmillan. Former Research Assistant, The Letters of Samuel Beckett, Emory University.

in conjunction with the organisers

Dr Derval Tubridy, Department of English and Comparative Literature, Goldsmiths, University of London

Professor Shane Weller, School of European Culture and Languages, University of Kent.

Topics under discussion include, but are not limited to:

·      The epistolary

·      The legacy of the archive

·      Digital correspondence

·      Privacy and copyright

·      Translation

  • The grey archive
  • Corollary correspondences
  • Visual metadata
  • Location registers
  • Ethics and the epistolary
  • Authorial intentionality
  • Literary criticism as correspondence
  • Performing letters


Friday 1st June.

12.00-13.30 Court Room Seminar

Dr Lois M. Overbeck (Emory University) and Dr Derval Tubridy (Goldsmiths, University of London). “The Epistolary in Literary Research”.

13.30-14.30: Lunch break. Jessel Room

14.30-16.00 Senate Room

Dr Lois M. Overbeck (Emory University), “The Letters of Samuel Beckett: A

Legacy in the Grey Archives”

16.00-16.30: Coffee break. Jessel Room

16.30-18.00 Senate Room

Prof Dirk Van Hulle and Dr Pim Verhulst (University of Antwerp), “A Beckett Manuscript Chronology: Linking the Letters to the Manuscripts”.

Federica Signorini (Emory University), “Love, Beckett: Reading the Addresser/Addressee in the Age of Digitisation”.

18.00-18.30 Closing Remarks

Saturday 2nd June

12.00-13.30: Senate Room

Intermedial Correspondences:                        

Dr Maria Thanassa (Department for Continuing Education, University of Oxford), “Perverting Beckett: Approaches to His Work on the Greek Stage”.

Dr Derval Tubridy (Goldsmiths, University of London), “‘Protected against words’: Beckett, the Epistolary, and Art Writing”.

Dr Anthony Paraskeva (University of Roehampton), “Post-War Cinema and Its Contexts in Beckett’s Letters”.

13.30-14.30: Lunch, Jessel Room                                                                   

14.30-16.00: Senate Room                             

Dist Prof Daniel Gunn (American University of Paris), “Beckett’s Letters: The Edition and the Corpus”.

16.00-16.30: Coffee                                                                           

16.30-18.00: Roundtable Discussion                          Senate Room

The Editorial Board of The Letters of Samuel Beckett, and Linda Bree (Wolfson College, University of Cambridge) discuss “Editing the Letters of Samuel Beckett”, chaired by Dr Derval Tubridy (Goldsmiths, University of London).

18.00-18.30 Closing Remarks

Terms and conditions

By registering below you are requesting a place on this training programme or selected sessions that form part of the programme. A member of the CHASE team or the workshop leader will contact you in due course to confirm that a place has been allocated to you. If you no longer require a place, please email as soon as possible so your name can be removed from the registration list.  

If you are allocated a place but can no longer attend, please email so that your place can be reallocated. CHASE training is free to attend and events are often oversubscribed with a waiting list. Failure to notify us of non-attendance in good time (ideally 5 days prior to the workshop/programme) means your place cannot be reallocated and may result in your access to future CHASE training being restricted.

The training is open to:

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