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Modernism: Beyond Representation

Thursday 13 November 2014, 5.00PM to 6.30pm

A Centre for Modern Studies postgraduate forum seminar

  • Doug Battersby: Beckett’s Ill Seen Ill Said: Style, Affect, and the Modernist Individual
  • Jack Quin: ‘Depths of feeling into which we cannot peer’: T. S. Eliot’s ‘Ash-Wednesday’ and Epiphany


Doug Battersby’s paper explores how Samuel Beckett’s late modernist prose fiction, Ill Seen Ill Said(1982) engages with questions about how the individual apprehends reality. The reading challenges conceptual accounts of the fiction, arguing that only by recognising the feelings the style engenders for readers can we produce an adequate account of the text. The paper concludes by suggesting that the formal qualities of modernist literature and its concern with experience are inextricably intertwined.

In his talk Jack Quin will consider the representation of religious experience in the post-conversion poetry of T.S. Eliot, particularly ‘Journey of the Magi’ (1927) and ‘Ash Wednesday’ (1930). It will interrogate the issue of conveying a transcendent ‘truth’, but also, in a self-reflexive capacity, conveying such a truth through a medium or form that embodies that truth. In this regard the paper seeks to build on recent scholarship that has asserted the idiosyncrasy, and indeed singularity, of Eliot’s ‘religious poetry’ following his conversion to Anglicanism.

Location: The Treehouse, Berrick Saul Building