Beckett is conventionally typed as the playwright of minimalist scenes of unremitting bleakness, but his experiments with theatre and film echo the irreverent play of popular culture (vaudeville on stage and screen, e.g. Chaplin and Keaton) as well as experimental theatre and modern philosophy, even when there are no direct lines of influence. This course will juxtapose these points of reference with Beckett's plays and those of his contemporaries (Ionesco, Genet and others in French, Pinter in English). It will then explore more recent plays that suggest the influence of Beckett by Pinter, Carul Churchill and Sarah Kane in English; Albert Jarry and Michel Vinaver in French, as well as the relevance of theorists and philosophers including Barthes, Wittgenstein, and critics writing on specific plays. Prerequisites: HUM CORE and at least one college level course in drama or TAPS. French is helpful but not required.