beckett© IMEC, Fonds MCC, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Gisèle Freund

Beckett and Modernism

2nd Conference of the Samuel Beckett Society
27 – 30 April 2016, Université d’Anvers
Keynote speakers: James Knowlson, John Pilling, Jean-Michel Rabaté

The year 2016 will mark the 40th anniversary of the Journal of Beckett Studies (JOBS), founded in 1976 by James Knowlson and John Pilling. To celebrate this occasion, we are proud to announce both of them as keynote speakers at the second conference of the Samuel Beckett Society, dedicated to Beckett and Modernism. Sometimes referred to as ‘The Last Modernist’, Beckett has also been situated within the postmodern canon. After a long critical debate, the term ‘modernism’ has recently been reframed by a vibrant field of what is sometimes called the ‘new modernist studies’, and the term ‘Late Modernism’ seems to be gaining currency in Beckett studies.

At the same time, several critics have called into question not only the criteria underlying these labels but also the act of categorization itself, the danger being in ‘the neatness of identifications’, as Beckett warned his readers from the start. Therefore, with this second conference of the Samuel Beckett Society, we would like to move beyond the point of labelling and examine the different ways in which Beckett interacted with the broad intellectual and artistic climate commonly referred to as ‘modernism’, taking Susan Stanford Friedman’s ‘definitional excursions’ into account: ‘Modernism requires tradition to “make it new”. Tradition comes into being only as it is rebelled against. Definitional excursions into the meanings of modern, modernity, and modernism begin and end in reading the specificities of these contradictions.’


Centre for Manuscript Genetics, University of Antwerp, in cooperation with the Samuel Beckett Society, MDRN, and LCIS (Leuven Centre for Irish Studies).

Scientific committee

Jan Baetens, Catholic University of Leuven
Gert Buelens, Ghent University
Johan Callens, Free University of Brussels
Bruno Clément, University of Paris 8
Stef Craps, Ghent University
Ortwin De Graef, Catholic University of Leuven
Marysa Demoor, Ghent University
Elke D’hoker, Catholic University of Leuven
Sjef Houppermans, University of Leiden
Mark Nixon, University of Reading
Isabelle Ost, Saint-Louis University, Brussels
Shane Weller, University of Kent

Image: ‘Samuel Beckett¹ by Gisèle Freund (1912-2000). © IMEC, Fonds MCC, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Gisèle Freund