CFP: Global Beckett (Denmark) (6/1/06; 10/25/06-10/27/06)

full name / name of organization: 
Jacob Lund Pedersen
contact email:


Global Beckett, Odense, Denmark October 25-27, 2006.

Papers are invited for the upcoming Global Beckett conference at the
University of Southern Denmark, Odense, October 25-27, 2006, organized by
the Universities of Southern Denmark, Oslo and Aarhus. Along with the
conference there will be an audiovisual Beckett exhibition at
Kunsthallen/Brandts Klaedefabrik in Odense.

Adopting “Global Beckett” as its overall theme, the conference will limit
itself to four subsections that in differing ways function as venues for
exploring the specifically global potential of Samuel Beckett’s oeuvre:

Global culture: Literature-functions-society. Keynote speaker: Steven
Connor, Birkbeck College, London.

Firstly, in a pragmatic-sociological sense Beckett is global in that he
is, quite simply, being played, staged, read and debated all around the
globe: From Asia to South America, from Australia to Europe, any number of
people continue to engage in the work of Beckett. This raises the issue of
a “global literature”: What are its specific features and functions, if
any, and how can the work of Beckett be said to constitute a part of
global culture?

Territorial Subtraction: Earth-cylinder-space. Keynote to be announced.
Secondly, a striking number of Beckettian fictional people are tied to the
earth, wander and roam fields and tracks, restlessly perambulate the
countryside. In most cases specifically national signs are carefully
subtracted or withheld. The geological and ecological stratum emerges as
earth, rather than a delimited set of national territories. Another large
group of Beckett-texts deal with the construction of possible worlds. We
are thinking of the so-called “cylinder-texts” from the sixties. An odd
cleansing of commonplace references to specific ethnic, national,
religious or other borderlines are carried out within the cylinders. The
worlds created are presented as highly singular and bounded, yet “here”
could be anywhere. What perspectives does this harbour in terms of our
thinking of the global versus the national, of space versus place? How may
the singular and earthbound, yet dislocated nature of Beckett’s
terrestrial and possible worlds illuminate the notion of the “global”?

Withdrawal as resistance: Politics-subjectivity-globalization. Keynote to
be announced.

Thirdly, a Beckettian aesthetic politics could be said to be “global” in
that he consistently cuts across or goes beneath ethnic, religious and
ideological thresholds. This non-specific or de-differentiated material,
in combination with the credos of the nothing to express and Fallor, ergo
sum, i.e. the Beckettian aesthetics and ethics of failure and abstainment
or de-subjectification, cannot, however, avoid pointing towards a certain
subjectivity. How does the Beckettian self-effacing subject concern the
various subject-politics of globalization and its theories? Perhaps by not
representing or referring to anything universal, any stable identity or
human essence or voluntary will-to-create from whatever local or
non-specific material one may come across. What is the potential of a
Beckettian global subjectivity? Does it hint towards reflections on a
humanity bereft of dividing differences? What kind of insight concerning
the issue of a global ethics might focusing on Beckettian subjectivity
yield? How might it relate to biopolitics and geoaesthetics? Does it offer
a valid (global) form of resistance? Having witnessed the fading of
deconstructionist and hermeneutical readings of Beckett, are there any
lessons to be culled from Beckett concerning the status of the ticklish

Worldly Laughter: Humour-affect-the unofficially global. Keynote speaker:
Simon Critchley, New School University, New York.

Fourthly, Beckett combines a subtle and nuanced humour, produced by a
highly specified usage of language, with what appears to be a global sense
of release and deliverance, albeit not necessarily redemption. While the
understanding of Beckett’s humour seems dependent upon a comprehension of
subtle nuances within the literary contexts of the English or French
languages, the inherently comic release of his otherwise serious
characters and monologues, appear, on a certain level, to be accessible to
audiences who do not possess this competence. Thus, does Beckett’s humour
encompass an entanglement between the universal and the singular? If so,
how is this possible? What is the nature of the relationship between
laughter and the global in Beckett? How might reading Beckett illuminate
the relationship between humour and literature? And how may such a type of
reading contribute to our understanding of the bonds between affectivity,
community and globalization?

Abstracts for 20 minute presentations should be no more than 250 words and
submitted by June 1, 2006.
Further details will be announced on the conference website at

Please send abstracts to:

Mikkel Astrup (Oslo):
Mikkel Bruun Zangenberg (Odense):
Jacob Lund Pedersen (Aarhus):

Inquires are welcome at any time. Please direct all questions concerning
practical issues (hotel, conference fee, etc.) to Anders Knudsen,


Jacob Lund Pedersen
Assistant Research Professor, Ph.D.
Institute of Aesthetic Studies
Department of Aesthetics & Culture - Interdisciplinary Aesthetic Studies
University of Aarhus
Langelandsgade 139
DK - 8000 Aarhus C

Direct phone: +45 8942 5150
Home page:

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Received on Wed Apr 12 2006 - 10:25:01 EDT

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