Experts gather to discuss the works of Samuel Beckett

Samuel Beckett conference poster

Arizona State University will bring together more than a hundred literary scholars, teachers and students from around the globe to examine the works of one of the most influential writers of the 20th century.

The Inaugural Conference of the Samuel Beckett Society (SBS) is schedule to take place Feb. 19-20 at the Clarendon Hotel and Spa, 401 W. Clarendon Ave., Phoenix. The first conference of the SBS represents the opportunity to bring together new, emerging and established perspectives on Beckett's prolific career as an avant-garde novelist, playwright, theater director and poet.

“Beckett's impact on 20th century literature was immense,” said Patrick Bixby, associate professor of English in the School of Humanities, Arts and Cultural Studies and one of the co-organizers of the event. “He wrote in just about every genre and over a long period of time. His work raised issues regarding human subjectivity, our language and our systems of communication, how we construct an understanding of ourselves and our world.”

Bixby said ASU wanted to provide a forum in which Beckett scholars can interact and provide new perspectives on his work and illuminate existing points of view.

Samuel Barclay Beckett was born April 13, 1906, in Dublin, Ireland. His literary career began in the early 1930s and was highly influenced by writer and fellow Dubliner James Joyce. Beckett joined the French Resistance after the 1941 occupation by Germany. His work flourished in the 1950s and 1960s, and in 1969 Beckett was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Considered one of the last modernists, Beckett is best known for his play, "Waiting for Godot." He died in December 1989 at the age of 83.

The event is sponsored by Barrett, the Honors College, at West campus; the Center for Critical Inquiry and Cultural Studies; the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; Department of English; and the School of Humanities, Arts and Cultural Studies.

Bixby will commence the two-day event by chairing the conference session “Beckettian Poetics” along with Anne Stillman, University of Cambridge; James Little, Trinity College of Dublin; Jonathen Feinberg, University of Pittsburgh-Greensburg; and Roberto Renginio, Alfred University.

Other conference sessions will include Beckettian Subjectivities; Beckett's Late Drama; Degeneration, Ethics and Aesthetics; Beckett Composing/Composing of Beckett; Beckett's Bodies; Beckett and the Digital Humanities; Orders and Disorders; and History, Politics and Authority.

David Lloyd, Distinguished Professor of English at the University of California, whose works focus primarily on Irish culture and history, will deliver the keynote address, “Beckett and Painting,” at 2 p.m., Feb. 19.

The conference will conclude with a Feb. 20 reception, banquet and concert at the Arizona Irish Cultural Center.

ASU faculty, staff and students are welcome to attend the conference sessions but the refreshments, banquet and concert will be limited to registered guests. All non-ASU affiliated attendees must be current members of the Samuel Beckett Society. For more information on the SBC, visit

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