Beckett Studies

An MA Course at

The University of Reading

Beckett This unique course
provide students with
the opportunity of studying
every aspect o the work
of Samuel Beckett, and of placing his work in relation
to other major authors
(e.g. Joyce, Yeats), issues
of genre (the modern novel,
the modern Irish short story,
modern drama), and literary theory.

The course is available
full-time (one year) or part-
time (two years). The full
time course is of twelve
months' duration, starting
in October. The deadline
for the submission of the
dissertation is the last day
of August. A viva voce
examination will be held.

The taught syllabus is organized on chronological lines over two terms, with prose fiction and drama prominent in both terms. There are seminars on Beckett as poet and as essayist, on Joyce and Beckett, on Beckett and the sister arts (especially painting), on Beckett and language (including his bilingualism), and on Beckett and post-modernism. Individual works such as Murphy, Watt, Waiting for Godot, Endgame, Molloy and How it is are studied in depth. A sequence of seminars traces the evolution of a distincly Beckettian 'poetics'. In each term students will work with manuscript material from the University's Beckett archives; in the second term they trace the emergence of a given work through successive versions. Research tasks, which may involve study of manuscripts, are undertaken in the Autumn term. These research tasks are not assessed, but they may point forward to the student's dissertation topic.

Full-time students write two assessed essays of not more than 6000 words, one in the Autumn and one in the Lent terms, on a topic approved by the Course Director. In the Summer term, when there are no seminars, students write a dissertation, on a topic approved by the Course Director, of not more than 20,000 words. The dissertation supplies 80 per cent of a student's final mark; the two essays supply the remaining 20 per cent. Part-time students must submit two assessed essays by the end of the first year, during which they attend all the seminars. Part time students use the second year for the wrting of their dissertations. The normal entry requirement is a sufficienty good first degree in an appropriate literary discipline, or in an appropriate Performance Arts degree with a substantial written component. Applications not meeting these criteria will be considered on their merits. A reading knowledge of French would be desirable but not essential.

The Archives department of Reading University Library houses the Beckett International Foundation, the largest collection of material towards the study of Beckett in Europe, and the second largest such collection in the world.

The Course Director and other colleagues in the Department of English have published on Beckett, Joyce and other Anglo-Irish authors and issues. Colleagues in the Department of French Studies contribute to the seminars and a number of visiting experts are invited to give classes.

Research training is provided by way of specific research tasks, as advised on and approved by the Course Director, with a strong emphasis upon manuscript study in the Beckett International Foundation. Students are introduced to the Foundation when they arrive, and in the first week are introduced by library staff to the use of CD-ROM and other computer facilities.

After completing your MA, there are excellent opportunities to continue working for a higher degree by research (MPhil or PhD).

Last updated: January 2001

Department of English University of Reading

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