Disability and Diversity in the Beckettian Body

Tubridy, Derval. 2024. Disability and Diversity in the Beckettian Body. In: Mark Nixon and Dirk Van Hulle, eds. The Oxford Handbook of Samuel Beckett. Oxford: Oxford University Press. [Book Section] (Forthcoming)

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Abstract or Description

Current scholarship on Beckett often figures disability in terms of physical or cognitive impairment or disorder (Davidson 2007; Sarkar 2015; Maud 2015; Barry, Maude, and Salisbury 2016, Purcell 2018), pain and endurance (Tanaka, Tajiri and Tsushima 2012) and the debilitated body’s relationship to prostheses and technology (Tajiri 2007, Maud 2009). While in each of these studies the phenomenological experience and affective consequences of disorder are addressed, disability is primarily understood in terms of lack, absence, and disempowerment. The chapter will trace representations of disability in Beckett’s writing, situating Beckett’ interest in disability in his own experience of illness and disease (through for example his discussions with Geoffrey Thompson in 1935, his work in Saint-Lô, his experience of Cissie Sinclair’s debilitating arthritis, and his own mother’s Parkinson’s). Building on extant scholarship in disability studies (Davis 2002; Nussbaum 2006; Quayson 2007; Kittay 2011), and on the posthuman (Effinger 2012; Braidotti 2013; Rabaté 2017) the chapter will re-frame concepts of disability in Beckett’s writing in terms of diversity focusing on the enhanced capacities of neuro-and physio-diversity, and the value of relational inter-dependence. Through readings of contemporary performances of Beckett’s theatre, i.e. Touretteshero’s neurodiverse performance of Not I (2018), and of his prose, i.e. Company S.J.’s Fizzles (2014), the chapter positions Beckett’s work as a vital lens through which concepts of agency, volition, and subjective representation integral to disability are reconfigured.

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Book Section

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

English and Comparative Literature



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Date Deposited:

05 Feb 2024 09:28

Last Modified:

05 Feb 2024 09:28



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