Richard Begam


6147 Helen C. White

Modern British and Irish literature, modernism across the arts, postcolonial literature, literature and philosophy, literary theory

Richard Begam

Degrees and Institutions

  • PhD, University of Virginia
  • MA, University of Virginia
  • BA, Columbia University

Selected Publications


  • Modernism, Postcolonialism, and Globalism: Anglophone Literature, 1950 to the Present, co-editor with Michael Valdez Moses (Oxford University Press, 2019).
  • Modernism and Opera, co-editor with Matthew Wilson Smith (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2016). Finalist for the 2017 Modernist Studies Association Prize for an Edition, Anthology, or Essay Collection.
  • Platonic Occasions: Dialogues on Literature, Art, and Culture, co-author with James Soderholm (Stockholm University Press, 2015).
  • Text and Meaning: Literary Discourse and Beyond, co-editor with Dieter Stein (Düsseldorf University Press, 2010).
  • Modernism and Colonialism: British and Irish Literature, 1899-1939, co-editor with Michael Valdez Moses (Duke University Press, 2007).
  • Samuel Beckett and the End of Modernity (Stanford University Press, 1996).

Recent Articles and Book Chapters

  • “Modernism After Poststructuralism: Or, Does Badiou Save Us From Drowning?” Modernism/modernity.  Forthcoming 2020.
  • “From Automaton to Autonomy: Mechanical Reproduction in Fritz Lang’s Metropolis.”  In Modernist Cinema (Oxford University Press, forthcoming 2019).
  • “Rushdie and the Art of Modernism.” In Modernism, Postcolonialism, and Globalism (Oxford University Press, 2019).
  • “Schoenberg, Modernism and Degeneracy.” In Modernism and Opera (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2016).
  • “How To Do Nothing with Words, or Waiting for Godot as Performativity.” In Reading Modern Drama (University of Toronto Press, 2012).
  • “Games Modernists Play: Performativity in Beckett’s Endgame.” In Text and Meaning: Literary Discourse and Beyond (Düsseldorf University Press, 2010).
  • “Joyce’s Trojan Horse: Ulysses, Modernism and the Aesthetics of Decolonization.” In Modernism and Colonialism: British and Irish Literature, 1899-1939 (Duke University Press 2007).
  • “Beckett’s Kinetic Aesthetics.” Journal of Beckett Studies 16.1 & 2 (2006/7).
  • Achebe’s Sense of an Ending: History and Tragedy in Things Fall Apart.” In Modern Critical Interpretations: Chinua Achebe’s ‘Things Fall Apart’, ed. Harold Bloom (Chelsea House, 2002).
  • “Beckett and Postfoundationalism, or How Fundamental Are Those Fundamental Sounds?” In Beckett and Philosophy. Ed. Richard Lane (New York: Palgrave, 2002).
  • “Making Modernism Matter.” Clio 30.1 (2000).

Current Projects

  • Beckett’s Philosophical Levity traces Samuel Beckett’s engagement with a variety of philosophical thinkers and systems. Chapters include: “Philosophical Trepidations” (Descartes, Kant, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Wittgenstein, and Beckett’s “Philosophical Notebook”); “Embodied Aesthetics” (Sade, Kant, Schopenhauer, and Murphy); “Antihumanism” (Descartes, Sartre, Heidegger and the Trilogy and Texts for Nothing); “Performativity” (Austin, Derrida, and Waiting for Godot); “Language Games” (Wittgenstein, Mauthner, Adorno, Cavell, and Endgame); “Speech and Writing” (Descartes, Husserl, Derrida, and the late fiction, drama, and radio plays); “Contemporary French Philosophy” (Beckett’s influence on Foucault, Derrida, Deleuze, Guattari, and Badiou).
  • Modernism’s Odyssey argues that Ulysses not only serves as an example of modernism, but also offers a theory of it. Situating Joyce’s masterpiece within the broader field of modernist studies, this study divides itself into three sections. The first section considers Ulysses in relation to modernism in music (Busoni and Schoenberg’s atonality), the visual arts (cubism, surrealism and collage), psychology (Weininger, Krafft-Ebing, Freud and Ellis) and philosophy (Nietzsche, Bergson and Mauthner); the second section examines how writers like Eliot, Pound, Lewis, Woolf and Barnes responded to the novel; and the third section reads Joyce alongside contemporary poststructuralist theory, especially Jacques Derrida.

Professional Activities

President, The International Samuel Beckett Society: 2009-2010
Visiting Professor, Stockholm University (Sweden): Spring 2011
Visiting Professor, Heinrich Heine University, Düsseldorf (Germany): Spring 2008
Visiting Associate Professor, Duke University: Spring 2001
Member, Editorial Board: Modernist Cultures, 2011-present
Member, Editorial Board: Journal of Beckett Studies, 2010-present

Graduate Teaching

“Twentieth-Century Fiction and Theory”
“Modern British Literature”
“Joyce, Beckett, and Modernity”
“The Literature of Empire and After”

Undergraduate Teaching

“Modern British and Irish Literature”
“Intellectual Backgrounds to Modernism”
“Literary Criticism and Theory”
“Colonial and Postcolonial Fiction”
“James Joyce”
“Forster, Lawrence, Woolf”
“Conrad, Eliot, Beckett”
“Yeats, Pound, Eliot”
“Wittgenstein, Heidegger, Derrida”

Recent Books