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English Department staff member Marc Farrant has won first prize in the 2020 awards of the Netherlands Research School for Literary Studies (OSL), for his article ‘Earth, World, and the Human: Samuel Beckett and the Ethics of Climate Crisis‘.

Farrant’s article, which was published in Samuel Beckett Today / Aujourd’hui, combines literary analysis with philosophical and theoretical approaches, setting up a productive and insightful dialogue between Beckett (and particularly his short story “The End”), Martin Heidegger, Jacques Derrida, Maurice Blanchot and more recent approaches in ecocriticism, particularly Roy Scranton’s remarkable contribution to ecocritical debates through his insights on ‘learning how to die’ in the face of impending ecological catastrophe. The study focuses on an early short story by Beckett, surprisingly relating it to the contemporary issue of climate change and the changing conceptions on man and environment stemming from it. 

The jury commented that the article ‘makes an original contribution to scholarship by revisiting Beckett through the lens of ecocritical problematics: Farrant’s nuanced analysis shows that literature may not provide clear-cut answers or solutions to the great challenges that we face in the contemporary world – and the climate crisis in particular – but can help us find the terms in which to address the significant ethical questions that arise from these challenges’.