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Martin Schauss

Research Interests

global modernisms, 20th century and contemporary literature, experimental writing, new materialisms, waste studies, environmental humanities, ecocriticism, ecopoetics, critical theory


“‘The absolute impossibility of all purchase’: Property and Translation in Beckett’s Post-war Prose.” Samuel Beckett and Translation, ed. José Francisco Fernández et al. Book Chapter. (Accepted)

“‘Such density of furniture defeats imagination’: Beckett’s Post-War Room and the Inheritance of Things.” Modernist Objects, ed. Xavier Kalck et al. Seminal Modernisms Series, Clemson University Press. Book Chapter. (Forthcoming 2020)

“‘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, et al. Cambridge Scholars Publishing: 2017. 15-40. Book Chapter.

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

Investigating Empty Middles: A Critical Review of Gail Scott's The Obituary.Lemon Hound 5 (June 2013): Web. Article.

“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. Article.


Bates, Julie, (2017), Beckett’s Art of Salvage: Writing and Material Imagination, 1932–1987. Journal of Beckett Studies vol. 28.2, September 2019: 240-245. DOI: 10.3366/jobs.2019.0271

Brazil, Kevin, (2018), Art, History, and Postwar Fiction. Review of English Studies vol. 295, June 2019: 793-796.

Recent Conference Papers

“Walking the Fields of Cultural Production: W.G. Sebald’s The Rings of Saturn.” Borders and Crossings 2019, University of Leicester (2019)

“After Kafka, After Beckett: Unmaking Modernisms in László Krasznahorkai’s Fiction.” Troublesome Modernisms, BAMS, King’s College London (2019)

“Autofiction By Any Other Means: Experiments in Citation and Form (On Lerner, Tokarczuk, and Sebald)”. AUTO- Conference, Royal College of Art (2019)

“Property, Nation-building, and Translation in Beckett’s Post-war Prose.” 5th International Conference of the Samuel Beckett Society: Beckett and Translation, University of Almería (2019)

“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)

PhD Thesis

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

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


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 (such as “new materialisms” and “thing theory”), and specifically to what is arguably their unifying premise: the call for a “politics of materiality.” It argues that Beckett and Sebald’s works are defined by leftover things and material remainders, which express a negative, indeterminate quality that problematizes affirmative systems of relations and the recuperation of “matter” into narrative meaning. What their oeuvres share is a sense of historical belatedness and material depletion, tied to the European post-war moment and a mutual concern for issues of remembrance and recovery. Within this context, their aesthetic response to a history of violence is in conversation with both realist and modernist object categories, and poses a series of specific difficulties to object-oriented perspectives and the notion of a “politics of materiality.” Their works foreground the materiality of language, intensifying the inadequacy of mediation not just for the representation of things, but for any encounter with them. Regarding the respective author fields, the thesis contends that the focus on materiality encourages a critical reformulation of the problem of politics and history, a problem that persists through their work’s resistance towards systematisation, determination and resolution. It posits that a conception of “thingness” in their work expresses neither truth, essence, nor an ideal object, but rather a limit encounter that asks for a continual revision of historical and political signification. 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.

Dr Martin Schauss

M dot Schauss dot 1 at warwick dot ac dot uk

PhD English & Comparative Literary Studies

Office Hours (2019/20):

Thursday 4-5pm H5.34

Thursday 5-6pm Arranged meeting/skype