If the return of Iceland’s least popular export – volcanic ash clouds – doesn’t interfere then it would be well worth your while taking a jaunt across the Irish Sea to the International Samuel Beckett Conference taking place at the University of York. Out of the Archive is more of a festival than a conference and celebrates the legacy of Beckett and his reputation as one of the greatest of modernist playwrights. This legacy is of course lauded by all those who saw original works by Beckett, those who still marvel at new and engaging representations of Beckett’s work and who read his works, plays and letters and those who study the extensive repertoire of Beckett’s life.
What sets this conference apart is its focus on that unique aspect to any writers legacy: and this is the archive. The collection of manuscripts created and collected by Beckett and preserved by archive services allow for an interaction with the finest elements of Beckett’s character, psyche and thoughts. To the researcher, the archive is the single greatest asset and allows an unprecedented access to what has gone before and allows for the development of original research and thought.
The conference itself is described in the following:
“Samuel Beckett’s is one of the last great modernist archives. A vast, slowly emerging body of archival materials is enabling a “thick description” that details Beckett’s transformation of modern literature. Revised or previously unreleased texts, adaptations of unfamiliar works, and the recent publication of his arresting letters have revealed unsuspected reading habits and writing methods, and documented his immersion in specific intellectual and political contexts. This increasingly historical and empirical vision of Beckett seems at odds with the timelessness and universality presumed in earlier accounts of his work. “Out of the Archive” probes the implications of this contradiction by thoroughly reassessing Beckett’s oeuvre.”
The conference features talks by invited guests, academic papers, exhibitions and performances. Some of the literary and theoretical heavyweights who will be speaking at the conference include Nobel Prize winning J. M. Coetzee, Booker prize winning John Banville, photographer John Minihan and publisher of many of Beckett’s works John Calder.
Highlights of talks from a series of academics include Dr. Sinéad Mooney (National University of Ireland, Galway), “Beckett, Translation, and the ‘Grey Canon’”, Julie Bates (Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland), “Beckett’s Greatcoats: Paternal Museums”, Elsa Baroghel (University of Oxford, UK), “The Source and the Draft: An Insight into Beckett’s Dramatic Technique”, Anastasia Deligianni (Université Paris VIII, France), “Beckett, The Archetypal Archivist”, Dr. Rina Kim (University of Auckland, New Zealand), “Beyond the Archive: The Case of Beckett’s ‘Psychology Notes’”, Prof. David Pattie (University of Chester, UK), “‘The following precious and illuminating material…’: Beckett Studies and the Archive”, Dr. Dirk Van Hulle (University of Antwerp, Belgium), “Modern Manuscripts: Samuel Beckett’s works between completion and incompletion”.
These are only a few of the incredible gathered body of speakers that will be present over this four day conference that will cover and discuss the themes of Manuscripts, Translation, Music, Cinema, Philosophy, Alternative Archives, Digital Archives, Politics, Beckett’s finished and unfinished notes and notebooks and myriad other topics.
For further information and full details of the conference visit the website http://www.outofthearchive.com/ and follow the conference on Twitter @beckettfestival