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Nina Power – Stony Ground but not entirely: Beckett and the Humanities

The Humanities and Arts Research Centre at Royal Holloway University of London

Date: 2 December 2009

speaker_NinaPowerNina Power (Roehampton) – Stony Ground but not entirely: Beckett and the Humanities

Beckett’s relationship to what we might understand by ‘the Humanities’ is a vexed one. Beckett’s references are often classical (Dante, the Bible, Descartes), and yet he is heralded as the great forerunner of certain kinds of poststructuralist concerns regarding the death of the author, the opacity of meaning, and so on. This paper seeks to situate Beckett in a different relation to the Humanities, via a reading of Beckett’s understanding of humanity itself, that avoids treating his work as either the outcome of a certain kind of old-fashioned education or as a prefiguration of philosophical concerns that all-too-often threaten to subsume his work under the weight of their own (non)meaning.

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