Beckett's Affective Telepoetics

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter in a book


Beckett’s television plays stage a seeming disparity between their often difficult and affectively-challenging subject matter, and the deliberate aestheticism and formalism of their representational strategies. This is made even starker by the austere formal qualities of their medium: the limited, rigidly-framed TV screen, its flatness, the shades of grey in a black and white broadcast, the stark televisual light, produced by the firing of a cathode tube onto the television screen, the frequently ‘flat’ or ‘indifferent’ tone of their voice-over and the often ‘staring’ camera eye, as Beckett called it in his manuscript drafts. And yet, the answer to how the plays’ affective content is communicated seems to reside precisely in the unusualness and precision of their form, in the clinically-framed shots and the abstracted, calculatedly affectless sets, in their detailed foregrounding of the artifice of representation, in their late-modernist, minimal, pared-down style, even in the brevity and semantic reticence of the scripts. This chapter will consider the question of affect and the resistance to affect in Ghost Trio, . . . but the clouds. . . and Nacht und Träume.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBeckett and Media
EditorsMark Nixon, Balazs Rapcsak, Philipp Schweighauser
Place of PublicationManchester
PublisherManchester University Press
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Oct 2019

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