Neurohumanities Public Talk: Beckett and the Mind

As part of the Neurohumanites Public Talk series, Robert Scanlan will be giving a talk on "Beckett and the Mind" on May 16th at 5pm.

In this talk, Scanlan will deliver a unique perspective on the cultural impact of Beckett’s art and its relationship to neuroscience and psychology. He will argue that the entire enterprise and oeuvre of Samuel Beckett is correctly characterized as the meticulous and disciplined manifestation of unadulterated mind in controlled spillages of language and images.

According to Scanlan all of Beckett’s works stem either from things heard or things seen, and it epitomized an ongoing effort within the arts and humanities to be the human “neuroscience” of its time – long before such a science had a name or a coherent methodology. In the current age when neuroscience is beginning to achieve some of its previously ‘impossible’ goals–the self-observation of living brains like Beckett’s starts to resonate with modern research that is changing the dialogue between science and the humanities. Scanlan will speculate on how Beckett would interpret new developments in brain and mind.


Robert Scanlan is Professor of the Practice of Theatre in the English Department at Harvard University. He is also a world leading Beckett scholar and director. In the 1980’s, Robert developed a close working relationship with the late Samuel Beckett, which has influenced much of his work since. For many years Robert was the Literary Director of the American Repertory Theater (Cambridge, Massachusetts) where he headed the Dramaturgy Program for the American Repertory Theater/Moscow Art Theater Institute for Advanced Theater Training at Harvard University. Robert frequently directs theater productions across the world. He also writes and lectures frequently about the staging of Beckett's work and about contemporary American playwriting. He is a past president of the Poet's Theatre (Boston, Massachusetts) where he has directed many staged readings, including a periodic "Muster of Poets" and the world premiere presentation of Samuel Beckett's Stirrings Still (with David Warrilow). From 1978 to 1989 Robert was Director of the Drama Program at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) where he directed over 30 productions for MIT’s Dramashop. Robert will deliver a uniquely engaging talk on his own experience with, and the cultural impact of, Beckett and his art.

  • Date: 
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  • Where: Paccar Theatre
  • Price: FREE
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