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The Epistolary in Literary Research – Ethics, Poetics, Performance

CHASE Advanced Training

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: The Epistolary in Literary Research

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 day will address how we negotiate issues of privacy, permissions, and copyright. It will discuss 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 day 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 is 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.


Dan Gunn is Distinguished Professor of Comparative Literature & English at the American University of Paris where he directs the Center for Writers & Translators. Co-editor of Letters of Samuel Beckett, editor of the Cahiers series, he is the author of Psychoanalysis and Fiction (1990), the novels Almost You (1994) and The Emperor of Ice-Cream (2014), and of the memoir Wool-Gathering of How I Ended Analysis 2002). He was designated in 2017 as editor of Muriel Spark’s letters.


Dirk Van Hulle is professor of English literature at the University of Antwerp and director of the Centre for Manuscript Genetics. With Mark Nixon, he is co-director of the Beckett Digital Manuscript Project (, series editor of the Cambridge UP series Elements in Beckett Studies and editor-in-chief of the Journal of Beckett Studies. He edited the new Cambridge Companion to Samuel Beckett (2015). His publications include Textual Awareness (2004), Modern Manuscripts (2014), Samuel Beckett’s Library (2013, with Mark Nixon), James Joyce’s Work in Progress (2016) and several genetic editions in the Beckett Digital Manuscript Project, including the Beckett Digital Library. He (co-)authored seven volumes in the Bloomsbury ‘The Making of’ series, including The Making of Samuel Beckett’s Molloy, Malone meurt / Malone Dies, L’Innommable / The Unnamable, Krapp’s Last Tape / La Dernière Bande, En attendant Godot / Waiting for Godot and Fin de partie / Endgame.



Organised by:

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

The presentation of a paper is not a requirement for attendance. All CHASE funded and associate PhD students, Arts and Humanities PhD students at CHASE member institutions, and students and members of staff at CHASE partner institutions are welcome to participate.


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