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Beckett's World - ENG00084H

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  • Department: English and Related Literature
  • Module co-ordinator: Prof. Emilie Morin
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: H
  • Academic year of delivery: 2020-21
    • See module specification for other years: 2022-23

Module summary

This module provides an exciting opportunity to study the work of Samuel Beckett – one of the most influential and celebrated writers of the twentieth century – as well as the literary, historical and political contexts that shaped its making and reception. Beckett’s texts remain fascinating and challenging: the situations they represent can appear far removed from the world we know, yet can also seem disquietingly recognisable. His work invokes not simply the spectres of world wars, but more diffuse recollections of torture, dispossession, internment and subjugation. Today, many of his texts – his early plays Waiting for Godot and Endgame in particular – retain a striking capacity to speak to circumstances marked by conflict and suffering.

They also remain extremely funny, and they continue to offer wonderful insights into the workings of knowledge, memory, courage and solidarity.

What is the relation between the worlds that Beckett imagined in his writing and the turmoil of the modern world?

The purpose of this module is to explore Beckett’s texts as well as their artistic, intellectual and political contexts. In our seminars, we will reflect on the peculiar ties that Beckett’s writing maintains to modern history and to politics. We will focus on his canonical plays as well as lesser-known texts. We will explore the plays he wrote for stage, radio, film and television, some selections from his prose, as well as a range of works and essays written by his contemporaries. We will also discuss Beckett’s working methods, the material circumstances in which his mysterious texts came into being, his many collaborations, his interest in different media including film, radio and television, and his perspectives on the writer’s profession.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Autumn Term 2020-21

Module aims

The aim of this module is to study a diverse selection of texts by Samuel Beckett, in order to gain a sense of their relation to different artistic, intellectual and political debates and different media including radio and television.

Module learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should have:

  1. detailed knowledge and understanding of Beckett’s dramatic texts
  2. familiarity with some of the contexts informing Beckett’s writing
  3. familiarity with recent critical approaches to Beckett’s work
  4. an ability to develop their own approaches to, and interpretations of, specific facets of Beckett’s texts, using an appropriate critical vocabulary.


Task Length % of module mark
Essay 3000 words
N/A 100

Special assessment rules


Additional assessment information

  • You will be given the opportunity to hand in a 1000 word formative essay in the term in which the module is taught (usually in the week 7 seminar). Material from this essay may be re-visited in your summative essay and it is therefore an early chance to work through material that might be used in assessed work. This essay will be submitted in hard copy and your tutor will annotate it and return it two weeks later (usually in your week 9 seminar). Summary feedback will be uploaded to your eVision account. 


Task Length % of module mark
Essay 3000 words
N/A 100

Module feedback

  • You will receive feedback on all assessed work within the University deadline, and will often receive it more quickly. The purpose of feedback is to inform your future work; it is designed to help you to improve your work, and the Department also offers you help in learning from your feedback. If you do not understand your feedback or want to talk about your ideas further you can discuss it with your tutor or your supervisor, during their Open Office Hours
  • For more information about the feedback you will receive for your work, see the department's Guide to Assessment

Indicative reading

Beckett’s Complete Dramatic Works (Faber).

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.