Postgraduate research

beck-graffitiThere is a vibrant cross-departmental postgraduate community involved in Beckett Studies at Reading. This is enhanced by the recently formed Postgraduate group (Beckett at Reading Postgraduates & Early-Career Researchers) and the Beckett PG Forum - a series of termly meetings enabling postgraduates to meet together in an informal setting to discuss their research, give papers, and discuss related topics of interest.

Postgraduate researchers are valued in and integral to the Centre. They develop good working relationships with staff and are an active part of research events and initiatives.

Staff specialising in Samuel Beckett are experienced PhD supervisors and would be happy to consider enquiries for projects on Beckett. As well as providing standard postgraduate research pathways, the University also offers a Doctoral Training Programme for collections-based research. This programme provides additional training for postgraduate scholars whose research is based on archival materials.



Details of some our current postgraduate researchers and their projects can be found below:


Niamh Bowe

'Early Phenomenology and the aesthetics of suffering in Samuel Beckett's non-prose work'

Niamh's AHRC funded research examines the aesthetics of Beckett's work in film, television and performance. This research focuses on a phenomenological reading of Beckett's aesthetic techniques. Instead of using more dominant phenomenological discourse she will be returning to the founders of the phenomenological movement, Husserl and Scheler, to gain a new perspective. In conjunction, the research will also incorporate a practical analysis of Beckett's use of film and television. Niamh's aim is to distinguish the aesthetics of Beckett's later work through film, performance and television discourse instead of literary discourse. Niamh's research therefore involves a detailed study of all of Beckett's non-prose work with extensive archival study.

Niamh is also funded by the Collections-Based Research PhD programme.


Professor Anna McMullan - Department of Film, Theatre and Television

Professor Jonathan Bignell - Department of Film, Theatre and Television


Will DaviesWill Davies

Beckett and Posthumanism

Will's research project reassesses Beckett's experiences of the Second World War and subsequent post-war writing in relation to European humanism and the Enlightenment. By assessing Beckett's experiences in Nazi Germany, Vichy France, the hospital project of Saint-Lô, and liberated Paris, this project will show how Beckett can be read as an author that responds to the failures of the Enlightenment project that were exemplified in the events of the war. Through locating Beckett within the context of posthumanist thinkers such as Theodor Adorno, Max Horkheimer and Michel Foucault, the project will show how Beckett was part of a historically situated cultural movement that used the war to mount a critique on the philosophical, cultural and historical legacies of Enlightenment humanism.

Will is the current Chair of the Beckett at Reading Postgraduate Group and Administrator of the Beckett Research Forum. His wider interests include the contemporary novel, critical theory and modernist writing, reception and publishing.


Professor Steven Matthews - Department of English Literature


Antonio Gambacorta

'Beckett and the City'

Antonio is researching Beckett's depiction of the 20th century city, its shifting populations, marginal spaces, institutions, informal networks. Drawing on philosophical analysis of the concepts of city, place and space, as well as on urban planning, architecture, textual scholarship, and on Franco Moretti's idea that maps are a way into the internal logic of the narrative, the study proposes to show that in Beckett place is not a passive stage but an active force. 'Beckett and the City' is a Collections-Based Research project.

Department of English Literature


Giovanna VincentiGiovanna Vincenti

Psycho-pathologies in James Joyce and Samuel Beckett

Giovanna is researching the different ways in which early 20th century psychological and psychiatric conceptions and treatments of mental illness influenced the composition of James Joyce's Finnegans Wake and Samuel Beckett's early English prose.

Her research investigates Joyce's and Beckett's personal and artistic experiences with psycho-pathologies and how they affect their works, stressing the importance of the oscillation between physical and psychological approaches, psychiatric and psychoanalytical techniques, bodily and mental diseases.

Giovanna's wider research interests include English Romanticism, Modernism, neurosciences and medical humanities.


Dr Conor Carville - Department of English Literature 


Former postgraduate projects


Matthew McFrederick: 'A Historiography of London Productions of Samuel Beckett's Drama' (supervisor: Professor Anna McMullan)


Helen Bailey: 'Spirituality & Music in the Works of Samuel Beckett' (supervisor: Dr Mark Nixon)


Sarah-Jane Scaife: 'The Culturally Inscribed Body and Spaces of Performance in Samuel Beckett's Theatre' (supervisors: Professor Anna McMullan and Professor Lib Taylor)

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