Trinity College campus in summer
Trinity College campus in summer

Below are details on the 2015 Beckett Summer School which took place from the 9th to 14th August 2015. 


Lecture titles for 2015 Summer School: (click on Faculty name for bio).

Beckett and Physics C. J. Ackerley

Beckett, Sensation and Agency – Amanda Dennis

fMRI in Prose: Beckett and Neuroscience Lois Oppenheim
‘as innocent as the sperm unspent’: Sex and Power in Beckett’s Works – Paul Stewart

‘The unthought and the harrowing’: Samuel Beckett’s Necessary Art – Derval Tubridy

‘Aspermatic Days and Nights’: Samuel Beckett and an Anti-Genealogy of Contemporary Irish Poetry – David Wheatley

The Loutishness of Learning: a roundtable on teaching Beckett – chaired by Jonathan Heron


Beckett and the Visual Arts – Derval Tubridy

Beckett and Visual Art is a series of four seminars that explore the intersections between Beckett’s writing and the visual arts. Tracing lines of enquiry through ideas of the body, language, subjectivity, performativity and identity, the seminars critically analyse the ways in which questions that are key to Beckett’s prose, poetry and performance underpin significant moments in contemporary art.

  • Seminar 1: Trace, Structure, Movement

• Samuel Beckett, Watt, Bruce Nauman ‘Stamping in the Studio’,‘Slow Angle Walk (Beckett Walk)’Nauman,‘Raw Materials’, Tate Modern.
• S
teven Connor, ‘Shifting Ground’.
• Christa-Maria Lerm Hayes, ‘Nauman.. Beckett… Beckett. Nauman: The Necessity of Working in an Interdisciplinary Way, Circa 104 (Summer 2003), 47-50.
• K
athryn Chiong, ‘Nauman’s Beckett Walk’, October, Vol. 86. (Autumn, 1998), pp. 63-81.
• D
eleuze, Giles, ‘He Stuttered’, Essays Critical and Clinical. Trans. Daniel W. Smith and Michael A. Greco (London: Verso, 1998), pp. 107-114.
• B
eckett Quadrat I + II and Come and Go. Sol Le Witt.
 Sol Lewitt ‘Drawing Series 1968 (Fours)’, ‘Paragraphs on Conceptual Art’, ‘Sentences on Conceptual Art’, Theories and Documents of Contemporary Art, pp.822-827.
• R
osalind Krauss, ‘LeWitt’s Ark’, OCTOBER 121, Summer 2007, pp. 111–113.

  • Seminar 2: Language, Subjectivity and the Performing/Speaking Body

Beckett, Not I and A Piece of Monologue. Screening of Beckett’s version and Neil Jordan’s version: a comparative reading. Beckett, The Unnamable; Screening of Jenny Triggs animated short film The Unnamable.

• Simon Critchley, ‘Who Speaks in the Work of Samuel Beckett?’ Yale French Studies, No. 93, The Place of Maurice Blanchot (1998), pp. 114-130.
• Emile Benveniste, ‘Of Subjectivity in Language’.
• Blanchot, Maurice. ‘Where now? Who now?’ Samuel Beckett: Longman Critical Readers. Ed. Jennifer Birkett and Kate Ince (London: Longman, 2000), pp.93-98.
• Derval Tubridy, ‘Vain Reasonings: Not I’ in Samuel Beckett: A Casebook, ed. Jennifer Jeffers (New York and London: Garland, 1998), pp. 111-131.
Rebecca Horn, BodyLandscapes.

• Sophie de Oliveira barata, ‘The Alternative Limb Project’.

  • Seminar 3: Imaging the text: Beckett and the Livre d’Artiste 

An overview of artists’ engagements with Beckett’s work through limited edition artists’ books. Focus on Samuel Beckett’s and Jasper John’s Foirades/Fizzles; Analysis of Johns’s painting Untitled 1972.

• Johns, Jasper. ‘Untitled Statement (1959)’, ‘Interview with G.R. Swenson (1964)’, ‘Sketchbook Notes (1965)’. Theories and Documents of Contemporary Art. Ed. Kristine Stiles and Peter Selz (Berkeley: U of California Press, 1996), pp.323-326.
Judith Weschler, Jasper Johns, 
‘Take An Object’.
Judith Weschler, ‘Illustrating Samuel Beckett: The Issue of the Supererogatory’, Art Journal, 1993, vol.52; no.4, pp.33-40.
• E
lza Adamowicz, ‘État Présent: The livre d’artiste in twentieth century France’, French Studies, Vol. LXIII, No. 2, 189–198.
Derval Tubridy, ‘Loose Signatures: Samuel Beckett and the Livre d’Artiste’, Seeing Things: Literature and the Visual, GRAAT no.28, Tours: Presses Universitaires Francois Rabelais, 2005, pp.109-122.

  • Seminar 4: Re-Sounding Beckett

• Morton Feldman’s Words and Music and Neither; Danny McCarthy (curator) Bend it Like Beckett; John D’Arcy, Beckett Basement; Beckett’s play Breath, and the film version directed by Damien Hirst; Robert Morris, Untitled 1968; Walter de Maria, The New York Earthroom.
• Listen in advance to Catherine Laws on Beckett and Sound.
• Beckett’s short text ‘neither’, Feldman Neither, Doris Salcedo’s installation ‘Neither’.
• Cage, John. ‘The Future of Music: Credo’. Audio Culture: Readings in Modern Music. Ed. Christoph Cox and Daniel Warner (London: Continuum, 2006), pp. 25-28.
Laws, Catherine. ‘Morton Feldman’s Neither: A Musical Translation of Beckett’s Text’, Samuel Beckett and Music. Ed. Mary Bryden (Oxford: Clarendon Press: 1998), pp.57-85.
Everett Frost, ‘A Note on the Word Man’, Mary Bryden (ed), Samuel Beckett and Music (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998), pp. 47-55.
Jean-François Lyotard, ‘The Sublime and the Avant-Garde’, ‘After the Sublime, the State of Aesthetics’, The Inhuman, trans. Geoffrey Bennington and Rachel Bowlby (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1991), pp. 89-107, 135-143.
Derval Tubridy, ‘
Beckett’s Spectral Silence: Breath and the Sublime Limit(e) Beckett 1 (2010): 102-122. 


Beckett and Poetry – David Wheatley

As his place on pub posters of Irish writers attests, Samuel Beckett’s place in the Irish popular imagination is secure. While Beckett the poet remains understandably overshadowed by the playwright and novelist, the poems have played their part – both in Seán Ó Mordha’s documentaries and Jack MacGowran’s recordings – in the popularisation of his work. Less well established, however, is the nature of Beckett the poet’s relationship to the rest of the Irish poetic canon. A number of competing trends can nevertheless be identified. The first brackets Beckett with his 1930s confrères Thomas MacGreevy, Denis Devlin and Brian Coffey as an Irish modernist. The roots of this identification are twofold: in Beckett’s ‘Recent Irish Poetry’ (1934), his polemic against neo-Revivalist verse, and in subsequent revivals of these 30s poets. A second trend is to find Beckettian traces in contemporary poets, but not in the form of Beckett’s own poems: in his Beckett and Contemporary Irish Writing, Stephen Watt devotes a chapter to Beckett and Derek Mahon and Paul Muldoon, while making only cursory reference to Beckett’s poetry. A third trend is the responses of contemporary poets themselves to Beckett’s work: here again, Muldoon and Mahon stand out, while other poets (Heaney, Boland) appear to have little or no use for him in their personal canons.

In our seminars we will examine Beckett’s own poetry, and attempt to trace a genealogy of the Beckettian in Irish poetry from the 30s to the present day. Among the writers whose work we will consider are: Thomas MacGreevy, Denis Devlin, Brian Coffey,  Seán Ó Ríordáin, Blánaid Salkeld, Thomas Kinsella, Derek Mahon, Ciaran Carson, Paul Muldoon, Eavan Boland, Catherine Walsh, and Justin Quinn.

Texts: Samuel Beckett, Collected Poems.


Beckett’s Manuscripts – Mark Nixon & Dirk Van Hulle

During his lifetime, Samuel Beckett donated several manuscripts to archives at universities such as Trinity College, Dublin, and the University of Reading. By studying the marginalia in the books of his personal library, his reading notes on literature, philosophy and psychology, his drafts and typescripts, we investigate how these manuscripts can contribute to an interpretation of Beckett’s works. The methodological framework is the theory of genetic criticism, which sets itself a double task: the ‘genetic’ task of making the manuscripts accessible (ordering, deciphering and transcribing), resulting in a genetic dossier; the ‘critical’ task of reconstructing the genesis from a chosen point of view (psychoanalysis, sociocriticism, narratology, etc.). Different methods of transcription (diplomatic, linear, topographic) and encoding (markup languages, the Text Encoding Initiative’s guidelines) will be discussed and applied to Beckett’s manuscripts. The potential interpretive consequences of this genetic research will be discussed in the second part of the seminar.


Performance Workshop – Jonathan Heron & Nicholas Johnson

The Performance Workshop of the Samuel Beckett Summer School
9 – 14 AUGUST 2015, DU Players, Samuel Beckett Centre
The Samuel Beckett Laboratory, in partnership with the Samuel Beckett Summer School and DU Players, provides a space and occasion for fundamental research into Samuel Beckett’s work in and through performance. Working in a black-box studio space over five days, we will create an ensemble of students, scholars, performers, directors, designers, and technicians to explore problems, processes, and philosophies in the practice of Beckett’s theatre. The 2015 Summer School meeting constitutes our fifth experiment as the “Beckett Lab,” in which performance is viewed not only as an end in itself, but also used as a research method. The textual focus of this work is not limited to Beckett’s plays, but will extend to a variety of Beckettian voices, voids, fragments, and fizzles, to discover what occurs when these are embodied in a specific time and space. Interest in performance as a praxis is the sole prerequisite; this laboratory is absolutely open to non-professionals.

The Samuel Beckett Laboratory is founded on the simple principle that by approaching Beckett’s texts through performance, deeper insight into the texts’ function or meaning can be gained. This function of performance as a methodology is taken as a truism for playscripts, where it is widely agreed that the kinaesthetic or practical knowledge achieved by the performer, director, designer, or technician is a valuable aspect of attaining a deep understanding of the work. The laboratory applies this principle across genre to include prose, poetry, radio, television, film, correspondence, and manuscript/draft material. The Laboratory exists to cultivate a safe and facilitated environment where, for the purpose of both research and pedagogy, scholars can engage in an inclusive manner with all of Beckett’s writing as performance material.
A single text from Beckett’s late prose is the main focus of our work across the week. The text is The Unnameable (1953) and we will be attentive to Beckett’s drafting process of this work, viewing and responding to the drafts, using the ‘Beckett Digital Manuscript Project‘. Other sources consulted will include Beckett’s Play (1963) and Not I (1972).  With two facilitators creating a working environment that elevates the non-hierarchical and exploratory embodiment of the “ensemble,” the workshop participants are all invited to respond through performance, reflecting on possible elements of dramaturgy, design, acting, and directing of the selected piece. Over the course of five days of engagement with the source texts and various performance practices, this approach is designed to generate a form of deep knowledge of the text’s structure, cross-reference, and operation as a “living thought” that can be embodied or communicated in manifold ways to an audience.

Visit the Beckett Laboratory page for further details


Reading Group – Sam Slote

 Over the course of the week we will slowly and patiently make our way through Beckett’s Trilogy (Molloy, Malone Dies, The Unnamable), which, along with Waiting for Godot, forms the heart of Beckett’s ‘frenzy of writing’ from 1946 to 1953. We will address issues of narrative, style, humour, repetition and seriality. While some previous familiarity with either the novels of the Trilogy or its predecessors (Murphy and Watt) is recommended, it is not necessary. I recommend using the new Faber editions of the novels, but, again, this is not necessary.


The internationally renowned Gare St. Lazare Ireland presented an exclusive performance of The Beckett Trilogy for the 2015 Samuel Beckett Summer School

Performed by Conor Lovett

Directed by Judy Hegarty Lovett

Just as his 1953 play Waiting for Godot changed the way we look at theatre, Samuel Beckett’s novels have also had a profound influence on modern literature. At the centre of what he considered ‘the important work’ are the three novels Molloy, Malone Dies & The Unnamable. Written in french shortly after World War II these novels are seen by many as Beckett’s literary masterpiece.

The Irish theatre company Gare St Lazare Ireland have made an exploration of Beckett’s prose works. Director Judy Hegarty Lovett and actor Conor Lovett have worked together on over 18 Beckett titles covering drama, radio drama, short stories and novels. In 2010 they produced their tenth Beckett prose piece. They are considered the foremost interpreters of Beckett’s work and their work is hailed for making the work fresh and accessible while highlighting the humour, humanity and integrity that is the hallmark of Beckett’s work.

A 3 hour tour de force, The Beckett Trilogy cemented Gare St Lazare’s reputation as they capture the essence of each of these novels.

In Molloy a crippled tramp recounts an effort to visit his aged mother. Along his route he is apprehended by the police for indecently resting on his bicycle. Shortly after his release from the police station he encounters an old woman and her dog, with dire consequences for the dog. Molloy is one of Beckett’s most poignant and arresting characters. His view of society, and the world, is as funny as it is true.

In Malone Dies, the narrator Malone is about to die and decides to tell himself stories as he bides his time. After several failed attempts he finally hits on a character, McMann, whose story involving an asylum, a lunatic male-nurse and an Easter Sunday outing to the islands, results in a bloodbath. As the story disintegrates so does Malone, literally.

In The Unnamable the nameless narrator has dispensed with story altogether and instead is trying to make sense of his existence, if it is his. In what must be one of the world’s strangest and greatest literary endeavours Beckett explores what we all feel at one time or other. Again his humour and intensity make the experience something we can all identify with. The novel itself ends with Beckett’s famous “I can’t go on, I must go on, I’ll go on.”

Gare St. Lazare Players’ precise and elegant work has made Beckett accessible to a whole new audience and earned the company a reputation around the world. Conor Lovett’s mesmerising performance in The Beckett Trilogy has been unanimously hailed as nothing short of outstanding.

Gare St. Lazare Players have toured internationally with their critically acclaimed presentations of Beckett’s prose works in Ireland they have toured to over 70 theatres around the country and internationally they have performed Beckett in 80 cities in 25 countries on 6 continents.

Gare St Lazare Players Ireland
Over the last 20 years Gare St Lazare Players Ireland have built a repertory of work that includes over 18 Beckett titles as well as work by Michael Harding, Conor McPherson, Will Eno and their adaptation of Moby Dick by Herman Melville. The tendency has been to premiere work in Ireland and then tour extensively. To this end they continue to visit many of the 21 countries they have already played. The company has developed ongoing relationships with theatres and festivals everywhere from Kilkenny to Shanghai. The work travels easily and past ventures have included several works travelling together as a mini-festival or sub-season of a festival. Joint artistic directors Judy Hegarty Lovett and Conor Lovett are considered to be among the leading interpreters of Beckett.

Gare St Lazare Players Ireland have received funding from from The Arts Council of Ireland and are regularly supported by Culture Ireland, the Irish government agency for promoting Irish cultural excellence abroad.


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