Samuel Beckett and World Literature

University of Kent

4 – 5 May 2016

Samuel Beckett by John Minihan, 1984

Samuel Beckett by John Minihan, 1984


Stanley E. Gontarski, Florida State University

Fábio de Souza Andrade, University of São Paulo

Almost unknown before the première of En attendant Godot in 1953, the immediate success of the play led to Samuel Beckett very quickly acquiring an international reputation. Since then, his works have been translated into numerous languages, and have exerted a considerable influence upon art and literature across the world. The award of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1969 confirmed Beckett’s status as a major figure in world literature.

However, while there is no doubt that his oeuvre lends itself to translation and adaptation, Beckett’s concern with directorial and verbal precision cautions against misappropriation, notwithstanding the seemingly decontextualised nature of his postwar writings. Moreover, in light of his global dissemination, Beckett’s commitment to ‘impotence’, ‘ignorance’, and ‘impoverishment’ takes on a new meaning. Despite the prevailing tendency to consider Beckett as an absurdist, his works resist being circumscribed by any literary and aesthetic category, and perhaps for this very reason have flourished in cultures very different from the one in which they originated.

So what is it in his writings that enables this global circulation? In what ways is Beckett culturally reciprocated and refracted? How do nation and nationality figure in his writings? These are some of the many questions that arise when considering Beckett as amongst the foremost figures of world literature today.

This international conference is designed to address the questions of Beckett as a figure of world literature and world literature as figured in Beckett. We would like to invite papers, presentations, and performances from students, academics, artists and fellow enthusiasts on the following topics, although participants should not consider themselves restricted by these:

  • Beckett’s influence, reception and circulation across disciplines
  • Rethinking global modernism in the light of his works
  • Beckett as a self-translator and studies of Beckett in translation
  • Cinematographic and theatrical adaptations of Beckett’s plays
  • The intercultural, sociological, and political dissemination of Beckett’s work
  • Beckett and global contemporary criticism and theory
  • Reappraising Beckettian motifs through appropriations and relocations
  • Teaching Beckett as part of international French and English curriculums
  • Beckett and the literary field
  • Retracing publication and translation trajectories
  • Beckett’s circulation in the digital world

Abstracts and proposals of no more than 300 words are invited by 26 February 2016 (extended deadline). Please e-mail submissions to with a short bio. Please also use this email address if you wish to contact the organisers with any queries. Additionally, please visit our website and add us on Facebook for latest updates.

Registration fees:

Registration with Refreshments – £42 for students and £50 for non-students

Registration with Refreshments and Lunch – £72 students and £85 for non-students