Beckett’s Media System | Publications
Rapcsak, Balazs. “Beckett the Spiritist: Breath and Its Media Drama.” Samuel Beckett Today / Aujourd’hui 32.1, 55-70. [https://edoc.unibas.ch/78104/1/07_SBTA_32.1_Rapcsak.pdf]
Schweighauser, Philipp. “‘Gut’: Becketts Verhandlungen von Macht in seinen Fernsehspielen für den Süddeutschen Rundfunk.” Literatur und Politische Philosophie: Subjektivität, Fremdheit, Demokratie. Ed. Michael G. Festl and Schweighauser. Paderborn: Wilhelm Fink, 2018. 169-95. [https://edoc.unibas.ch/65414/]
Rapcsak, Balazs. “Switching Attention: Technologies of Awareness in Beckett’s Krapp’s Last Tape.” The Arts of Attention. Eds. Kállay, K. G. et al. Budapest: Harmattan Hongrie, 2017. 457-468.
Rapcsak, Balazs, Mark Nixon, and Philipp Schweighauser, eds. Beckett and Media. Manchester: Manchester UP. Forthcoming 2021.
1. Table of Contents of Beckett and Media
Beckett and Media: Introduction
Balazs Rapcsak, Mark Nixon
I. Digital Humanities
This section contains two essays that details their authors’ uses of digital technology to make Beckett’s work available in digital form and update it for twenty-first-century culture. Nicholas Johnson reports on his use of a robotic teleconferencing camera and of virtual reality technology in two of his experimental reinterpretations of Beckett’s Play. Dirk Van Hulle contributes an inquiry into method as it details the challenges to his research team’s creation of digital genetic editions of Beckett’s manuscripts in the context of the Beckett Digital Manuscript Project (www.beckettarchive.org).
>> Nicholas Johnson (Trinity College Dublin, “Intermedial Play, Virtual Play: Beckett in Digital Culture”
>> Dirk Van Hulle (University of Antwerp), “Editing Beckett in Digital Media”
II. Media Technologies
This section assembles the most theoretical essays of this volume, which probe the technological conditions and constraints of Beckett’s work in several media. Wolfgang Ernst, a major representative of what has come to be known as (German) ‘media archeology,’ explores the technological manipulation of time in Krapp’s Last Tape as it situates the play in the media-technological sphere of magnetophony of the 1950s/1960s. Balazs Rapcsak situates Breath in the discourse network of Beckett’s time as it explores medial transpositions and interferences between the play’s scripts and performances. Julian Murphet reads Quad as a sympathetic engagement with the raster scan technology that produces the televised image. Jonathan Bignell details the technological challenges involved in reproducing Beckett’s aesthetics of black in two television versions of Was Wo [What Where] directed by Walter Asmus in 1986 and 2013.
>> Wolfgang Ernst (Humboldt University, Berlin), “Techno-Drama / Techno-Trauma: In-between Theatre as Cultural Form and True Media Theatre”
>> Balazs Rapcsak (University of Basel), “Electrifying Theatre: Beckett’s Media Mysticism in and beyond Rough for Theatre II”
>> Julian Murphet (University of New South Wales, Australia), “Understanding Quad”
>> Jonathan Bignell (University of Reading), “Black Screens: Beckett and Television Technologies”
III. Media Limits
Situating Beckett’s works in the media aesthetics of his time, this section zooms in on Beckett’s probing of the limits and limitations of the media he works with. Ulrika Made’s contribution presents a new take on Beckett’s much-discussed aesthetics of impoverishment (which he developed in contradistinction to Joyce) as it probes his exploration of the limitations of both film and human agency and perception. Focusing on Watt and All That Fall, Wolf Kittler notes that Beckett’s reductionist aesthetics also finds expression in his texts’ concern with basic forms of signaling, from Pavlov’s dogs to telegraphy. Armin Schäfer grapples with Gilles Deleuze’s influential argument that Beckett’s works revolve around exhaustion, postulating that exhaustion (of the possibilities of language, fiction, and media) is also one of Beckett’s core aesthetic principles. Philipp Schweighauser’s essay takes Beckett’s naming of his key aesthetic device in Film—the ‘angle of immunity’—seriously as it supplements media-historical contextualizations of the film with an immunological reading that probes the relevance of the fact that both the setting of Film in 1929 and its production in the 1960s coincide with major developments in the history of immunology.
>> Ulrika Maude (University of Bristol), “Beckett, Media and Machine Age Form”
>> Wolf Kittler (University of California, Santa Barbara), “The Average Hungry or Starving Dog: Beckett’s Take on Pavlovian Telecommunication”
>> Armin Schäfer (Ruhr University Bochum), “Beckett’s Exhausted Media”
>> Philipp Schweighauser (University of Basel), “Angles of Immunity: Beckett’s Film”
IV. Intermedial Transfers
This concluding section explores the intermedial dimensions of Beckett’s work, focusing on the ways in which his engagement with media other than the literary text shaped his literary production. Martin Harries’s contribution explores how Endgame engages with the postwar media environment, partiularly with the new, mass-medial forms of spectatorship associated with the medium of film. Starting from All That Fall and Embers, Pim Verhulst harnesses Jay David Bolter and Richard Grusin’s influential concept of ‘remediation’ to explore how Beckett’s work for radio transformed his work for the stage. Drawing on hitherto unexplored archival sources and taking aim at common perceptions of Beckett as an aloof high-cultural figure, Mark Nixon shows just how intimately Beckett was immersed in the newspaper culture of his time, be it as an avid reader of newspapers, as a writer who referenced newspaper items in his works, and (most notably) as a publisher of poems and stories in The New Yorker, The Guardian, and elsewhere.
>> Martin Harries (University of California, Irvine), “Endgame, Media, and Beckett’s Publics”
>> Pim Verhulst (University of Antwerp), “Beckett’s Remediated Bodies: Intersections of Radio and Theatre”
2. Essay Abstracts
Jonathan Bignell ¦ Black Screens: Beckett and Television Technologies
This essay analyses how the aesthetics of black in Beckett’s dramas for TV illuminate recent theorisations of the significance of texture in television and film, and histories of television production and reception technologies. The argument begins with a comparison between Walter Asmus’s 1986 television version of Was Wo [What Where] and his 2013 reworking of the same drama for the screen. Asmus’s earlier version was broadcast in a 4:3 ratio of width to height, whereas the recent version is in 16:9 aspect ratio, affecting composition and the relationships between lit and unlit space on screen. Beckett wrote the word “Black” across a diagram of the TV screen in his production notes for Was Wo, and great efforts were made by staff at the Süddeutscher Rundfunk in Stuttgart to control the lighting of the faces and the blackness of the rest of the image. The earlier version was shot on video and broadcast in 625 line video, limiting contrasts between greys and blacks. The 2013 What Where is in HD digital format, enhancing image clarity but stretching the limits of TV technology for the representation of black. My essay explains how Beckett’s earlier screen dramas of the 1960s and 1970s had also exploited and challenged the video and film technologies used to produce them. By focusing on black, I explore the significance of unlit space and texture in TV versions of Beckett’s screen work produced at different times. These changing television technologies affect how viewers can make sense of visual textures and apparent depth in the dramas. Beckett’s TV work uses the apparent nullity of black to draw attention to the representational capabilities of the TV screen, linking visual style with the materiality of the television medium.
Wolfgang Ernst ¦ Techno-Drama / Techno-Trauma: In-between Theatre as Cultural Form and True Media Theatre
If we combine sound philology and the archival contextualization of Beckett’s oeuvre within his contemporary media culture with a radically media archaeological reading of the one-act drama Krapp’s Last Tape, we discover a different poetics emerging from within the media-technological sphere of magnetophony (its ‘sonicity’). My non-historicist reading of Krapp’s Last Tape does not circle around the rigid denominator ‘Beckett’ and its performative idiosyncrasies as an individual author but understands the beckett drama as an operational function of the epistemic challenge posed by the manipulations of tempor(e)alities by electro-acoustics around the 1950s / 1960s. What happens when psychic ‘latency’ becomes magnetic signal recording? Not only is the configuration of a human protagonist (Krapp) and a high-technological device (the magnetophone) a microsocial configuration in the sense of Actor-Network Theory or an ensemble in Simondon’s sense, but the close coupling of the human and the machine on the stage requires a more rigorous analysis (in the Lacanian sense) of the cognitive, affective, even traumatic irritations induced in humans by the signal transducing machine.
This essay zooms in on the media miessage of Krapp’s Last Tape, and its approach is inductive in two ways: on the one hand, electro-magnetic induction is the technological condition (the arché) of possibility (in Kant’s / Foucault’s / Kittler’s sense) of the phonographic drama at stake in Krapp’s Last Tape, and on the other hand, in the sense of idiographc identifications of the real media theatre.
Martin Harries ¦ Endgame, Media, and Beckett’s Publics
Scholarship on Beckett’s theater often assumes that its encounter with media begins at the point of adaptation, when the plays are remediated as radio, television, or film broadcasts. This chapter will argue that the force of the contemporary media surround is, instead, immanent to his plays, and that a critique of this mediated environment is legible in the theater works themselves. Focusing on Endgame, this essay will show how Endgame engages with the postwar media surround.
This essay will pay close attention to Endgame’s address to its audience. Beckett’s experiments with metatheater are so familiar that the book that introduced the word into the critical lexicon, Lionel Abel’s Tragedy and Metatheatre: Essays on Dramatic Form (1966), includes a discussion of his work. Nevertheless, the very familiarity of Beckett’s acknowledgment of the audience has perhaps disguised its historicity. Beckett’s acknowledgement of the audience does not simply continue a theatrical or comic tradition: mass culture, and particular the new forms of spectatorship associated with film, are the background against which Beckett’s drama must be read.
My essay will pay particular attention to the problem of theatricality in a period when mass culture was seen as the dominant cultural force in the production of subjects. Against the widespread understanding of mass culture – so pervasive in the first postwar decades – as the interpellation of docile spectators subject in every sense to the spectacle they watch, Beckett’s experiments with forms of address are legible as an effort to counter this formation of subjects. This paper will argue that this situation is paradigmatic for Beckett’s metatheatrical moments: their gestures make the apparatus that produces the general conditions of mass cultural spectatorship visible.
Nicholas Johnson ¦ Intermedial Play, Virtual Play: Beckett in Digital Culture
This essay explores and contextualizes the ongoing Intermedial Play practice-as-research project, which is an exploration of Samuel Beckett’s Play (1963) through digital culture. The first experiment (14 April 2017) emerged from conversations relating to creative possibilities for a PTZ (Pan-Tilt-Zoom) robotic teleconferencing camera and control unit. Conceptually exploring the similarity between such a camera (designed for surveillance applications) and the “interrogator” light of Beckett’s script, this experiment was streamed to an audience sitting in a different room, raising questions of simultaneity and ‘live risk’ that are generally absent from digital adaptations. The second experiment, currently ongoing, relates to a user-centred FVV (Free-Viewpoint-Video) — a variety of VR (Virtual Reality) — version of Play.
This technological reinterpretation of Play is an exploration of the new cultural subjectivities imposed on humans by new technologies of presence in digital culture. Though partly inspired by Anthony Minghella’s version of Play that was produced for the BBC’s compilation Beckett on Film (2001), our versions elicit the specificities of new, real-time, digital telepresence technologies, thereby offering a fresh digital augmentation of both Beckett’s famous script, as well as a Beckettian response to these technologies.
Wolf Kittler ¦ The Average Hungry or Starving Dog: Beckett’s Take on Pavlovian Telecommunication
In Beckett’s novel Watt, there is a telephone, but it is rarely used, and it could well be that, in the barren universe of this author’s world, telecommunication media do not have much of a place. Watt even includes an explicit allusion to the loneliness and isolation of ships on the ocean “prior to the invention of wireless telegraphy.” But, in his radio play All That Fall, Beckett hints at the end of that epoch when he has Mrs. Rooney assume that the hymn Miss Fitt is humming is the very same as the one which, according to apocryphal lore, the orchestra was playing and the passengers were singing when the Titanic sank. Beckett was six when that happened, and he must have known that the International Radiotelegraph Conference, which took place in London only three months after the disaster, made wireless operations mandatory for ships over a certain tonnage all day round: 24/7.
Taking my cue from these sparse pieces of evidence I will try to analyze Beckett’s take on the most basic features of telecommunication systems, namely signal lights and bells, in the passages on the question how the remains of Mr. Knott’s slops can possibly be fed to “the average hungry or starving dog,” a clear reference to Ivan Pavlov’s famous experiments on conditioned reflexes which linked the administration of food to the sound of bells.
In a last step, I will try to show that Beckett’s use of simple signals can be referred to his reading of Fritz Mauthner’s theories on language.
Ulrika Maude ¦ Beckett, Media and Machine Age Form
In 1936, Beckett read Rudolf Arnheim’s book, Film, which had been translated into English three years earlier from the German original, Film als Kunst (1932). In the book, Arnheim laments the introduction of sound and colour to film, arguing that the power of the medium resided precisely in the strangeness generated by its limitations, namely in the uniquely visual nature of silent film. Beckett, who like Arnheim was an advocate of silent film, took the limitations not merely of film but of the other media he worked in as the starting point of his aesthetic. His interest was less in what a medium could achieve than in where its boundaries lay. This is one dimension of Beckett’s ‘art of impoverishment’. By pressing each medium to its formal limits – to the point at which it threatens to spill over into another form – Beckett questions, while also seeming to insist on, the formal particularity of the medium in question. Beckett’s interest in technology, and in the possibilities of the different media in which he worked, grows partly out of the analogies he finds between the machinic and the human. Here, too, he is interested not in what a subject can do but in the limitations of perception, of understanding, and most markedly of agency, intentionality, and free will. This essay maps the syntax of Beckett’s media aesthetic and considers the wider implications of his Machine Age multimedial work.
Julian Murphet ¦ Understanding Quad
The electronic interlaced raster scan that composes a televisual ‘image’ was relayed to the cathode ray beam by way of an analogue signal from the broadcast video source. That signal amounted to a set of instructions, telling the beam how to behave as it was pulled in a line, magnetically, across the back of the phosphor-treated CRT screen from left to right, before snapping back left again to trace the next line down, and so on: specifically, the signal informed the beam how intensely to transmit at each point of its passage, with what colour electron guns, and with what velocity and refresh rate. These instructions worked, irrespective of the imaginary ‘content’ of the image temporarily formed thanks to phosphor persistence, moiré induction, and retinal retention. They worked on the basis of an electronic arrangement of post-human speed, and the inbuilt conservatism of the psychological apparatus; as McLuhan puts it, “The TV image offers some three million dots per second to the receiver. From these he accepts only a few dozen each instant, from which to make an image.”
Beckett’s Quad is still the most extraordinary work of art composed for the televisual medium, though what is most remarkable about it is scarcely ever discussed. In a word, this is still the only major work for the ‘small screen’ written in an act of imaginative sympathy with the raster scan itself: an impersonal set of instructions about how to move across and around a rectangular space, conjuring images out of mathematically controlled movements. My essay looks deeper into the implications of Beckett’s intuitions with regard to the analogue electronic arts as arts of time set to the measure of inhuman speeds and rhythms.
Balazs Rapcsak ¦ Electrifying Theatre: Beckett’s Media Mysticism in and beyond Rough for Theatre II
Breath does not feature any technical objects on the stage, as many of Beckett’s theatre plays do, and the use of technical apparatus in its performance is limited. However, a close consideration of its aesthetic as well as aspects of its genesis and production history helps us to situate it in a discourse network and describe the layers of its medial constitution, while revealing the surprising complexity of a play that has been characterized as “simplicity itself.” Arguing for the necessity of a methodological distinction, I offer a rhetorical analysis of the script and a media aesthetic analysis of its realization in performance to demonstrate that there is a dual ‘spiritism’ at work in the play, which I try to illuminate by developing and contrasting the notions of hermeneutic spectrality and technological spectrality. After focusing on the text’s implicit tension between technicality and figurativeness, I show that the play is conceived around a relationship of untranslatability between script and performance, which allows me to trace a sequence of medial transpositions and interferences within, between and beyond script and performance. In the next step, I place these insights in the context of the first production of the play as part of the revue Oh! Calcutta!, claiming that the appropriation and the seemingly banal scandal that ensued is not (only) a story of abused trust but was, in fact, inscribed in the medial constitution of the play itself and cannot be separated from it; and, consequently, that there is a media drama unfolding not only in but also around the play. I conclude by advocating a synoptic view of genetic and production history, theatrical and reading experience, as well as the technical and socio-cultural factors involved to facilitate a better understanding of how Breath became a ‘media play.’
Armin Schäfer ¦ Beckett’s Exhausted Media
My essay comments on Gilles Deleuze’s substantial argument that the notion of exhaustion is at the core of Beckett’s works. In a first step, I discuss the psychophysiology of movements in Beckett. There are movements that fade until they stop and movements that go on and on and on. These movements are governed by the laws of physiology; it is inevitable that everyone gets tired after performing an activity, although everyone gets tired in an individual way. Under normal conditions, the subject is capable of governing itself. It is possible to counteract fatigue to a certain degree by resting, eating, drinking, and sleeping on the one hand, and by regular training and the effort of will on the other hand. But in the end, fatigue that eventually leads to sleep is protecting the subject against exhaustion. While the tired person is able to resume activity in a predictable way, it is uncertain whether and how the exhausted one can ever do so. Under the influence of passion, however, a performance can continue until exhaustion. The exhausted subject will do what is still possible by performing without consideration and regard to personal interest.
In a second step, I ask how Beckett exhausts language and fiction. One example is the enumeration of possible combinations until one gets tired of them. Beckett’s language uses series of antitheses, oxymora, paradoxes, and contradictions where statements are made, inferences derived, and negations of inferences produced, and these negations are, in turn, negated. Another example is how fiction keeps amputating the stories until they fade and extinguish the potential of narrating a plot.
In a final step, I question the function of media and argue that the concept of media in Beckett has to be defined neither as form or device of representation such as theatre or film nor as a technical apparatus such as print or radio nor or as a symbolic system such as alphabetic writing, but, rather, as the means to make something visible and audible. While Beckett’s media give us representations of the exhausted subject, they are also exhausting the potential of a situation by exhausting its own possibilities, i.e. by making audible and visible what could be called, according to Deleuze, a percept, that is an acoustic or optical sensation that stands for itself.
Philipp Schweighauser ¦ Angles of Immunity: Beckett’s Film
The historical setting of Beckett’s Film in 1929 is conventionally related to the significance of that year in the history of film. 1929 not only saw the premiere of Luis Buñuel und Salvador Dalí’s groundbreaking Un chien andalou (to whose most famous scene Film’s opening shot of O’s eye pays homage) but also marks the almost complete transition of Hollywood from silent films to talkies (which reverberates in Film in the only sound we hear: a woman’s ‘sssh!’). But Beckett’s use of the device of the ‘angle of immunity’—the 45° camera angle whose three breaches in the movie induce the “agony of perceivedness” that O seeks to avoid—suggests an additional historical context. The ‘angle of immunity’ is not a technical term in film-making, so the question is why Beckett opted to use ‘immunity’—a term that belongs to multiple social realms: medicine, anthropology, religion, morality, politics, and the law. It is, perhaps, a historical coincidence that Film is set in a year significant in the history of immunology. As Arthur M. Silverstein notes in his History of Immunology, “It was in 1929 that Louis Dienes first showed that tuberculin-type hypersensitivity was not restricted to substances of bacterial origin. He injected egg albumin directly into the tubercles of tubercular animals and demonstrates that they would then develop typical ‘delayed’ hypersensitivity skin reactions to the bland protein itself.” Delayed hypersensitivity is one of those ‘heretical’ immunological phenomena that could not be explained with the help of the humoralist immunological dogma of Dienes’s time, which considered the antibodies circulating in the body’s humors (mainly blood and lymph) the sole agents of the human immune response. It would take thirty years until the immunological revolution took off, which prompted an awareness of the systemic complexity of human immunity, recognized the crucial role played by cells, and, most significantly, defined immunology as the ‘science of self/not-self discrimination.’ Driven by the publication of Frank Macfarlane Burnet’s The Clonal Selection Theory of Acquired Immunity (1959), this revolution was well underway as Beckett was shooting Film in 1964. Both the historical setting of Film in 1929 and its production in the early 1960s prompt me to inquire into the medical meanings of ‘immunity’ in a film whose damaged protagonist, dilapidated setting, and production in the sweltering heat of New York in July prominently raise issues of health and disease. I supplement this inquiry into the medical meanings of Beckett’s ‘angle of immunity’ with an exploration of the concept’s social significance. Drawing on Jacques Derrida’s and Roberto Esposito’s reflections on community, immunity, and autoimmunity, I note that O’s flight in Beckett’s Film is not merely a flight from perception but also a flight from community—most prominently from the community of the film’s initial street scene, which Ross Lipman restored in the 2010s. This flight from community, I argue, manifests the destructive, autoimmunitary logic of the self/not-self dichotomy that the immunological revolution succeeded in placing at the heart of immunology as Beckett was shooting his film.
Dirk Van Hulle ¦ Editing Beckett in Digital Media
Given the fact that Beckett was very open to new media, such as radio and television, it is only fitting that this openness also characterizes the posthumous care we take of his texts. This means that we should seriously consider the need but also the consequences of editing Beckett’s texts in the digital age. The digital medium enables us to present aspects of Beckett’s works that used to be known to only the lucky few who had been able to travel to the Beckett archives around the world. Beckett donated many of his manuscripts to friends and these documents ended up in more than a dozen different holding libraries. If one wished to study the writing process of, say, Krapp’s Last Tape, one had to travel to various places in the US and the UK. By scanning these manuscripts, we were able to digitally reunite the dispersed manuscripts in the Beckett Digital Manuscript Project, which has been available online since 2011 (BDMP, www.beckettarchive.org). Editing this material, however, presents us with many challenges, such as the choice between a ‘teleological’ and a ‘dysteleological’ editorial approach: should we present Beckett’s manuscripts as documents leading to particular publications, or should we (also) present them as traces of moments in the creative process when Beckett did not yet know where his writing was heading? And how should this digital genetic edition relate to the planned critical edition of Beckett’s complete works (on paper, i.e. another medium)? My essay starts from the BDMP as a case study to critically discuss these challenges of editing Beckett’s works, both in printed form and in digital media.
Pim Verhulst ¦ Beckett’s Remediated Bodies: Intersections of Radio and Theatre
When Billie Whitelaw was rehearsing Footfalls in 1976, she asked Beckett, ‘Am I dead?’, to which he replied: ‘Let’s just say you’re not quite there’. This ambiguous presence of the body in the play goes back to a precedent twenty years earlier, namely the character of Miss Fitt in the radio play All That Fall, who tells Maddy Rooney: ‘I suppose the truth is I am not there, Mrs Rooney, just not really there at all’. Though written two decades apart, both instances refer to the Jung lecture that Beckett heard in 1935 about a girl not being ‘properly born’. Yet there is also an underlying, medium-specific connection between Footfalls and All That Fall. When Beckett started writing for radio, he made a clear distinction with theatre: the one was intended for voices, the other for bodies. In the mid-1950s, however, a convergence began taking place, as the body in Beckett’s theatre was gradually reconceptualized under the ‘disembodying’ influence of radio. His earlier comments notwithstanding, the body is a continuous though sometimes problematic presence in Beckett’s radio drama. Starting with All That Fall and Embers, this essay illustrates how a process of ‘remediation’ accounts for the radical and innovative ‘re-embodiment’ of Beckett’s late theatre. In the definition of Bolter and Grusin (1998), ‘remediation’ is understood as an assimilation of older media by new ones. In Beckett’s case, the reverse happens, as theatre adopts characteristics of radio, innovating that older medium in the process. As Julian Murphet (2009) and David Trotter (2013) have argued, it is precisely this responsiveness to cultural codes of new technologies that determines the robustness and longevity of a medium, in this case the poetry and prose of modernism. What is true on the macro-level of a global literary movement, also holds on the micro-level of an individual literary oeuvre, which explains why Beckett is one of the great inter- and multimedial authors of the twentieth century.
3. Biographical Notes
Jonathan Bignell is Professor of Television and Film in the Department of Film, Theatre & Television at the University of Reading. His work on Beckett includes his book Beckett on Screen: The Television Plays and articles in Samuel Beckett Today/Aujourd’hui and the Journal of Beckett Studies. Jonathan has published chapters on Beckett’s screen drama in the collections Writing and Cinema (which he also edited), Beckett and Nothing (ed. Daniela Caselli) and Drawing on Beckett (ed. Linda Ben-Zvi). Currently he is working on a collaborative project documenting and analysing Harold Pinter’s work for the stage, screen and broadcast. Jonathan is a Trustee of the Beckett International Foundation and a member of the Centre for Beckett Studies at the University of Reading.
Academically trained as a historian (PhD) and a classicist (Latin Philology and Classical Archaeology) with an ongoing interest in cultural tempor(e)alities, Wolfgang Ernst grew into the emergent technology-oriented “German school” of media studies and is Full Professor of Media Theories in the Institute for Musicology and Media Science at Humboldt University in Berlin since 2003. His academic focus has been on archival theory and museology, before he devoted his attention to media materialities. His current research covers media archaeology as a method, theory of technical storage, technologies of cultural transmission, micro-temporal media aesthetics and their chronopoetic potentials, and sound analysis (“sonicity”) from a media-epistemological point of view. Publications in English include Digital Memory and the Archive (2013); Chronopoetics: The Temporal Being and Operativity of Technological Media (2016); and Sonic Time Machines: Explicit Sound, Sirenic Voices and Implicit Sonicity in Terms of Media Knowledge (2016).
Martin Harries is Professor of English at UC Irvine and works on twentieth-century theater, modernism, and theory. He is the author two books, Forgetting Lot’s Wife: On Destructive Spectatorship (2007) and Scare Quotes from Shakespeare: Marx, Keynes, and the Language of Reenchantment (2000). This chapter forms part of a book in progress about the impact of mass culture on postwar drama called “Theater after Film.” An overview of the project’s argument appears in in Medium: Essays from the English Institute, a cluster of articles in ELH. He has also published in New German Critique, Theater Journal, Modern Drama, TDR, Theater, and the edited collections Approaching the Millennium: Essays on Angels in America, Popular Spirits: The Haunted Spaces of Everyday Culture, and “If Then the World a Theatre Present . . .”: Revisions of the Theatrum Mundi Metaphor in Early Modern England. His reviews have appeared in The Village Voice and The Hunter Online Theater Review. With Lecia Rosenthal, he edited and introduced “Comparative Radios,” a special issue of Cultural Critique. Prior to teaching at Irvine, he was on the faculties of NYU and Princeton University.
Nicholas Johnson is Assistant Professor of Drama at Trinity College Dublin, as well as performer, director, and writer. He co-founded the Beckett Summer School at Trinity College Dublin and facilitates theatre workshops around the world. Recent theatre work includes The David Fragments (Dublin/London 2017); Beckett’s First Play (Dead Centre, 2017); Cascando (Pan Pan, 2016); No’s Knife (Lincoln Center, 2015); and Enemy of the Stars (Dublin/Fez, 2015). He co-edited the Journal of Beckett Studies special issue on performance (23.1, 2014) and co-founded the Samuel Beckett Laboratory with Jonathan Heron (Warwick). In 2016 he held a visiting research position at Yale University.
Wolf Kittler is Professor and Vice-Chair of German and Slavic Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His research interests are interdisciplinary. They include Western literature from Greek antiquity to the present, philosophy, art history, history of science, media technology and critical theory. After studying German and Romance languages and literatures in Freiburg and Toulouse, he received his Ph.D. from the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg in 1979. In 1986 he completed his Habilitation at the Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg. He taught at that university as well as at the universities of Erlangen-Nürnberg and Munich. He is the author of Der Turmbau zu Babel und das Schweigen der Sirenen. Über Das Reden, Das Schweigen, die Stimme und die Schrift in vier Texten von Franz Kafka (1985) and Die Geburt des Partisanen aus dem Geist der Poesie. Heinrich von Kleist und die Strategie der Befreiungskriege (1987). Together with Gerhard Neumann, he is co-editor of Franz Kafka. Schriftverkehr (1990) and Franz Kafka. Drucke zu Lebzeiten. Kritische Kafka-Ausgabe, two volumes 1996.
Ulrika Maude is Reader in Modernism and Twentieth-Century Literature at the University of Bristol. She is the author of Beckett, Technology and the Body (Cambridge University Press, 2009) and Samuel Beckett and Medicine (Cambridge UP, 2018), and co-editor of a number of books, including Beckett and Phenomenology (Continuum, 2009); The Cambridge Companion to the Body in Literature (Cambridge UP, 2015) and The Bloomsbury Companion to Modernist Literature (Bloomsbury, 2018). She is a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Beckett Studies and the journal’s Review Editor.
Julian Murphet is Scientia Professor of English and Film Studies at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. He has published Faulkner’s Media Romance (Oxford, 2017), Multimedia Modernism (Cambridge, 2009), and Literature and Race in Los Angeles (Cambridge, 2001), among other things. He has co-edited many collections of scholarly work, including Sounding Modernism (2017), Rancière and Literature (2016), Faulkner in the Media Ecology (2015), and Modernism and Masculinity (2014). He edits, with Sean Pryor, the journal Affirmations: of the modern. He is a Fellow of the Academy of the Humanities in Australia.
Mark Nixon is Associate Professor in Modern Literature at the University of Reading, where he is also Co-Director of the Beckett International Foundation. With Dirk Van Hulle, he is editor in chief of the Journal of Beckett Studies, managing editor of the book series ‘Elements in Beckett Studies’ (CUP) and Co-Director of the Beckett Digital Manuscript Project. He is also an editor of Samuel Beckett Today / Aujourd’hui and a former President of the Samuel Beckett Society. He has published widely on Beckett’s work; recent books include Samuel Beckett’s Library (with Dirk Van Hulle, Cambridge UP, 2013) and the critical edition of Beckett’s short story ‘Echo’s Bones’ (Faber, 2014). He is currently preparing a critical edition of Beckett’s ‘German Diaries’ (with Oliver Lubrich; Suhrkamp, 2019).
Balazs Rapcsak is a doctoral candidate in Anglophone Literary and Cultural Studies and adjunct lecturer at the Department of English of the University of Basel. He works as an assistant in the Swiss National Science Foundation project “Beckett’s Media System: A Comparative Study in Multimediality.” Combining different strands of media theory with traditional Beckett criticism, his current research explores the interrelatedness of Beckett’s output in various media. He recently published “Switching Attention: Technologies of Awareness in Beckett’s Krapp’s Last Tape.” The Arts of Attention. Ed. Katalin Kállay et al. Paris-Budapest: L’Harmattan, 2017. 457-468.
Armin Schäfer is Professor of German Literature at the Ruhr University Bochum. His research priorities include the relationship between literature and the history of science and the literary and media history of the 20th century. He has published a book on Stefan George, edited a recent volume on Samuel Beckett, as well as on the history of psychiatry and on the melodrama, among other publications.
Philipp Schweighauser is Associate Professor and Head of American and General Literatures at the Department of English of the University of Basel. He has worked on a wide variety of issues in American Studies, but his main foci are 18th to 20th American literature and culture; literary, cultural, and media theory and history; literature and science; soundscape studies; life writing; and aesthetics. He is the author of The Noises of American Literature, 1890-1985: Toward a History of Literary Acoustics (UP Florida, 2006) and Beautiful Deceptions: European Aesthetics, the Early American Novel, and Illusionist Art (U of Virginia P, 2016). He is the principal investigator of two Swiss National Science Foundation projects: “Beckett’s Media System” and “Of Cultural, Poetic, and Medial Alterity: The Scholarship, Poetry, Photographs, and Films of Edward Sapir, Ruth Fulton Benedict, and Margaret Mead.” Schweighauser is currently serving as the President of the Swiss Association for North American Studies.
Dirk Van Hulle, professor of English literature at the University of Antwerp and director of the Centre for Manuscript Genetics, recently edited the new Cambridge Companion to Samuel Beckett (2015). With Mark Nixon, he is co-director of the Beckett Digital Manuscript Project (www.beckettarchive.org) and editor-in-chief of the Journal of Beckett Studies. His publications include Textual Awareness (2004), Modern Manuscripts (2014), Samuel Beckett’s Library (2013, with Mark Nixon), James Joyce’s Work in Progress (2016) and several genetic editions in the Beckett Digital Manuscript Project, including Krapp’s Last Tape / La Dernière Bande, Molloy (with Magessa O’Reilly and Pim Verhulst), L’Innommable / The Unnamable (with Shane Weller) and the Beckett Digital Library.
Pim Verhulst is a postdoc at the University of Antwerp. His research focus is genetic criticism, audionarratology, (late) modernism and radio drama. He has published articles in Genetic Joyce Studies, SBT/A and JOBS, of which he is an assistant editor; and chapters in Beckett and BBC Radio (Palgrave, 2017), Beckett and Modernism (Palgrave, 2018) – co-edited with Dirk Van Hulle and Olga Beloborodova – and Audio-narratology: Lessons from Audio Drama (Ohio State UP, 2019). As an editorial board member of the BDMP he has co-authored the modules on Molloy, Malone meurt / Malone Dies and En attendant Godot / Waiting for Godot (with Dirk Van Hulle and Magessa O’Reilly). His monograph, The Making of Samuel Beckett’s Radio Plays, is appearing with Bloomsbury in 2019 and for Edinburgh University Press he is finishing a monograph on Samuel Beckett and the Radio Medium.