DANCE FIRST. THINK AFTERWARDS.. THINK AGAIN: Samuel Beckett and the Strange Loop

  • Collard, Christophe (Administrative Promotor)
  • Atkinson, Douglas (Co-Promotor)
  • Thoelen, Thomas Jean-Marie L (Mandate)

Project Details


My research will examine the possibility of a direct link between existentialist metaphysics and those of literature in Samuel Beckett’s Trilogy, i.e. Molloy (1951), Malone Dies (1951) and The Unnamable (1953). The central hypothesis is that the existential predicament of its literary subjects can be read as expressing the symptoms of literature (rather than unilaterally addressing the human condition). The main model that the research will adopt to enable such a reading will be cognitive scientist Douglas Hofstadter’s theory of the strange loop, a concept which celebrates analogy at the core of all meaning, and as such of cognition and self-consciousness as well. Unsurprisingly, the strange loop is best understood by analogy, and Hofstadter accordingly proposes to contemplate the manifestation and development of self-consciousness as reminiscent of a video loop in which the camera faces the screen on which it projects its recorded image, creating a perpetual regress in the process. Language, for example, allows for a similar self-reflexivity inside the brain. The self, then, is the illusory product of the mental leap which allows for bypassing such regress. My research will accordingly apply Hofstadter’s model of the strange loop to the textual system of Beckett’s Trilogy and argue that the many textual instabilities stand in direct relation to the declining existence of the mant self-images conveyed within the novels.
Effective start/end date1/10/1530/09/19


  • Samuel Beckett
  • dance
  • Molloy
  • Malone dies
  • the unnamable
  • Literature

Flemish discipline codes in use since 2023

  • Dramaturgy


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