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Martin Schauss


PhD Thesis

Like a Thing Forsaken: Beckett, Sebald and the Politics of Materiality.

This comparative study investigates representations of objects and materiality in the "late modernism" of Samuel Beckett and W.G. Sebald. The thesis responds to the recent proliferation of theories and literary analyses focused on objects, matter, and the nonhuman, and specifically to what is arguably their unifying premise: the call for a “politics of materiality.” It argues that Beckett and Sebald’s leftover things and material remainders express a negative, indeterminate quality that problematizes affirmative systems of relations and the recuperation of “matter” into narrative meaning. The thesis contributes to the recent critical recognition of a latent political potential in Beckett’s work, and disputes claims that Sebald’s novels encourage melancholic resignation in the face of catastrophe.

This thesis was completed under the supervision of Prof Daniel Katz and Dr Nick Lawrence, and with funding from the Chancellor's Scholarship.

More broadly, my research interests include 20th century and contemporary world literatures, modernism, critical theory, translation studies, and continental philosophy relating to materiality, materialism, and objects.

Recent Conference Papers

“Beckett’s ‘Nightmare Thingness’ and the Draff of Modernism.” Modernist Objects, French Society for Modernist Studies, Paris Sorbonne (2018)

“Into what nightmare thingness am I fallen?”: The Politics of Matter in Samuel Beckett’s Short Stories" Beckett and Politics Conference, BARP, University of Reading (2016)

“‘The following precious and illuminating material should be carefully studied’: The Logic of Incorporation in Beckett, Sebald, and Krasznahorkai.” Beckett and Europe Conference, BARP, University of Reading (2015)

“Footnotes: Poets/Scholars.” Milburn House Symposium, University of Warwick (2015)

“On the History of Natural Destruction: an Apocalyptic Reading of W.G. Sebald’s The Rings of Saturn.” Brave New Worlds Conference, University of Newcastle (2015)


“‘The following precious and illuminating material should be carefully studied’: Material Incorporation in Beckett, Sebald, and Krasznahorkai.” In Beckett and Europe: History, Culture Tradition, ed. Michela Bariselli, Niamh M. Bowe, William Davies. Cambridge Scholars Publishing: 2017. 15-40.

"The Censor’s 'filthy synecdoche': Samuel Beckett and Censorship." Sanglap: Journal of Literary and Cultural Inquiry 2.2 (2016): Web.

“Investigating ‘Empty Middles’: A Critical Review of Gail Scott’s The Obituary.” Lemon Hound 5 (June 2013): Web.

“Towards the Feynman Point: A Beginning in 30. A creative exercise in Oulipan constraint and critical review.” ecloga: Journal of Literature and the Arts 9 (Spring 2011): 38-50.

Martin Schauss

M dot Schauss at warwick dot ac dot uk

PhD English & Comparative Literary Studies