Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the 1959 publication of William S. Burroughs' Naked Lunch Home About Contact RSS Updates Press  


The Naked Lunch @ 50 celebration in Paris took place from 30 June to 3 July 2009. It was a tremendous success, as you can see from the photos and videos and the press coverage. NakedLunch.org would like to thank all of the contributors and attendees for participating in this homage to William S. Burroughs’ masterwork.

The Book Launch

On the evening of June 30th the official book launch of Naked Lunch@50: Anniversary Essays will take place at the University of London Institute in Paris. From 18.00 to 19.15 there will be a drinks reception, sponsored by the David Bruce Centre for American Studies (Keele University) and by ULIP, in the British Council’s Stevenson Room on the second floor. 

The launch continues from 19.15 to 20.30, in the British Council’s Turner Room, also on the second floor. After opening remarks from Andrew Hussey, Dean of the Institute, and from Oliver Harris and Ian MacFadyen, co-editors of the book, the internationally acclaimed artist Jean-Jacques Lebel will then give an address, followed by “Operation Trance,” a reading by the writer Terry Wilson. The launch will close with the performance of a special tribute concert by celebrated American singer and writer Eric Andersen.

As numbers have to be limited, this is an invitation only event and entry to the book launch reception is not included in the Symposium fee of 10 Euros.

Homage and Symposium

The three days and evenings of events held at the University of London Institute in Paris, July 1st to July 3rd, combine informal talks, academic papers, film-screenings, live and recorded musical performance, and a small exhibition of visual materials. There will also be a special afternoon event at the old Beat Hotel in rue Git-le-Coeur. 

The exhibition, in the Granville Barker room on the top floor, will be open throughout the three days. The exhibition features reproductions of photographs and artworks by Udo Breger, trolley bus, Graham Chorlton, Alison Harper, Karen Trusselle, Stephen Webster, Johann Don-Daniel and Philip S. Wood, with a sound work by Simon Lilly. The exhibition includes “PARIS 1959 ECLIPSE,” a collage-text by Ian MacFadyen, exploring the dangerous allure of historical homage.

Also in the Granville Barker room, there will be screenings in a special booth of British artist jakoh’s short experimental film “Hiding in Plain Sight.”

On display in the Turner Room, will be “cutWBup,” a stunning visual homage to William Burroughs by Philippe Blondez, graphic designer and founding editor of the magazine BIL BO K.

Copies of Naked Lunch@50 will be on sale in the Granville Barker room at a specially discounted price (hardback: 30 euros, paperback: 20 euros — cash only, please), along with other books and CDs, and posters for the Homage and Symposium.

Each day, coffee, tea, and viennoiseries will be served from 10.00 to 12.00 in the Delius Room, in between the Turner and Stevenson Rooms.

Access to all three days is by payment of a 10-euro fee. Places are limited, however, and the fee can’t guarantee access to any one particular event. Some last-minute changes to the programme are possible, so please check this site for updated information.

A detailed schedule of all the events with information about all the participants and their contributions will appear shortly.

We would like to thank the British Council, Bruno Mémin of ULIP, and Philippe Benoit of EYESHOT for A/V technical advice and support, and Isabelle Schmitt and Joanne Johnson of ULIP for all their assistance.

Turner Room and Stevenson Room at ULIP
The Turner Room (left) and the Stevenson Room (right) at University of London Insitute

Wednesday, July 1st

Event 1:  11.00-12.30 — Festin Parisien

(Turner Room)

Opening to the eerie music of “The Meet Café—Song of the Mugwump,” part of composer Steve Tromans’ homage to Naked Lunch, and after brief welcoming addresses by Andrew Hussey and Oliver Harris, the first session is focused on Paris itself as the stage for the completion of Burroughs’ landmark novel. It will feature talks by Barry Miles, Beat Generation scholar and author of The Beat Hotel: Ginsberg, Burroughs, and Corso in Paris, 1957-1963, followed by Udo Breger, translator, publisher, and friend of Burroughs. The session will conclude with a projection of Harold Chapman’s celebrated photographs of the Beat Hotel, introduced by the filmmaker Alan Govenar.

Rue Git-le-Coeur

Event 2:  14.30-15.30 — Homage in rue Git-le-Coeur

After lunch, the Homage will rendezvous outside No. 9, rue Git-le-Coeur for the installation, in collaboration with the management of the Relais Hotel du Vieux Paris, of a “plaque commemorative” to mark the historical site of the old Beat Hotel. There will be a small drinks reception hosted by the hotel, souvenirs of Burroughs recounted by poet Nina Zivancevic, reminiscences by the Scottish artist and former Beat Hotel resident, Elliot Rudie, and readings in the street, including the texts of Fred de Vries’ homage to Sinclair Beiles, Max Blagg’s “Three Dollar Bill,” and, in memoriam for Harold Norse, “Hydra Waterfront” by Neeli Cherkovski and a special tribute from his friend Eddie Woods.

Film I

At 16.15 in the Cinématheque at ULIP, located on the ground floor, there will be a screening of James Bidgood’s film, Pink Narcissus — in many ways, one of the closest cinematic experiences to Burroughs’ Naked Lunch. 

At 16.30 in the Turner Room, Alan Govenar will screen a short section from his soon-to-be released documentary history about the Beat Hotel, followed by an open discussion.

Event 3:  17.30-18.30 — Visionary Art And Music 

(Turner Room)

A session devoted to the spiritual and mystical dimensions of art, writing, and music, there will be a talk from the Vancouver-based artist Bryan Mulvihill, aka Trolley Bus, followed by the writer Terry Wilson, long-time friend of Burroughs and Gysin, in conversation and reading from his latest work DAYS LANE. The session will conclude with a performance of live music from Louise Landes Levi playing the sarangi.

Event 4: 17.30-18.30 — Cut-Up Music

(Stevenson Room)

The French group Nouvelles Impressions d’Afrique will play a live set of improvised Burroughsian collage music.

Film II

At 17.45 in the Cinématheque there will be screenings of ILYA V (24 mins) and La Femme au lys rouge (13 mins) two films by Frédéric Fenollabbate.

Event 5:  19.00-20.30 — Empire

(Turner Room)

The final event of the day begins with the hipster humour of the legendary Lord Buckley, in CP Lee’s famous one-man tribute. The evening will conclude with the acclaimed Beat Blues sound of East Tennessee singer-songwriter, poet, and dramatist, RB Morris.

Thursday, July 2nd

Event 6:  10.30-11.30 — Postcolonial Lunch 

(Turner Room)

The first session of the day features three critics addressing one of the most important topics informing current academic study of literature. Allen Hibbard, a specialist on the work of Paul Bowles as well as Burroughs, will give the opening talk on the subject of Naked Lunch and globalisation, followed by papers from Polina Mackay on cultural difference and Sean Bolton on the textual geography of Interzone, concluding with an open discussion.

Event 7:  11.00-13.00 — Radio Burroughs (en français)

(Stevenson Room)

Patrick Amine, journalist and literary critic, will introduce his radio broadcast Les Derniers Papiers.

Event 8:  12.00-13.00 — The French Connection

(Turner Room)

The session before lunch makes connections between Burroughs, French culture, and traditions of drug-taking through three very different approaches. Drawing on her experience as a translator of Michaux’s work, Louise Landes Levi will appear in conversation to discuss the points of intersection between Burroughs and Michaux. Anne Coppel, a Paris-based expert on the sociology of drugs, will give an illustrated talk on the relations between drugs and subjectivity. And finally, Alan Carmody will address the parallels between Burroughs and Artaud in their engagement with shamanic culture in South America.

Film III

Dead of Night

At 14.00 in the Cinématheque there will be a screening of Dead of Night, the great British horror movie and influence on Naked Lunch. This will be followed at 15.45 by sections from American filmmaker Andre Perkowski’s ongoing film project of Nova Express. At 14.45 in the Turner Room, Danish filmmakers Lars Movin and Steen Moller Rasmussen will introduce their recently-released Burroughs documentary, Words of Advice. At 16.15 in the Cinématheque there will be a screening of the short film James Agee’s Last Letter, written by and starring RB Morris.

Event 9: 15.00-16.15 — Écriture 

(Stevenson Room)

This session focuses on writing, especially the writing that came after and out of Naked Lunch. French critic Benoit Delaune will talk about the relation between cut-up practices and concrete music, while Davis Schneiderman will focus on other aspects of cut-ups as a creative method. Finally, Thom Robinson from England considers how Naked Lunch is read in retrospect, from the point of view of the work that came later.

Event 10:  16.45-18.00 — Four Writers

(Turner Room)

Davis Schneiderman, Eddie Woods, RB Morris, and Eric Anderson will offer a creative homage to Burroughs with readings from their own work.

Event 11: 16.45-18.00 — Sur Burroughs (en français)

(Stevenson Room)

The editor and writer Philippe Garnier will speak about the Burroughs oeuvre with particular reference to The Soft Machine, followed by a dialogue between the novelist Jean-Jacques Schuhl, who has used cut-up techniques in his work, and the celebrated writer Philippe Sollers.

Event 12:  18.30-20.15 — X-Factor

(Turner Room)

The final session begins with Inge Andersen performing “Point of No Return” written by Ian MacFadyen, a dramatic poetic narrative based upon the life and times of Joan Burroughs. This will be followed by a psychedelic musical set from Lee Harris and rap poet River Styx, and the day concludes with a performance of “A Lucky Thief in a Careless World,” a dramatic piece in homage to William Burroughs by Johny Brown, Inga Tillere, Johnny Mugwump and Chris Brierley of (and for) RADIO JOY.

Friday, July 3

Event 13:  10.30-11.30 — Naked Lunch 50 years on

(Turner Room)

Chaired by Andrew Hussey, the first session of the final day is given over to an open mic discussion to consider the continuing fascination and relevance of Burroughs and his oeuvre, Naked Lunch in particular. 

Event 14: 10.30-11.30 — Open Session

(Stevenson Room)

A session of informal contributions and short presentations, including a talk by Raj Chandarlapaty about his new book, The Beat Generation and Counterculture.

Event 15:  12.00-13.15 — Publish and Be Damned 

(Turner Room)

Chaired by Allen Hibbard, this session starts with an illustrated talk by Jed Birmingham about Burroughs’ early and vital involvement with little magazines. Jaap van der Bent addresses Burroughs’ relationship with the Olympia Press, and Michael Kellner will discuss issues of translating Burroughs, drawing on his experience of making the new German translation of Naked Lunch. The session concludes with Jeffrey Miller, publisher of Cadmus Editions, talking about the publication of the Naked Lunch-era material collected together as Early Routines.

Event 16: 12.00-13.15 — sur Naked Lunch (en français)

(Stevenson Room)

The bibliophile Jean-Pierre Dutel will present his original edition of Naked Lunch and other documents, followed by a talk from the novelist and literature specialist Benjamin Berton on the Wild Boy figure in Burroughs’ oeuvre. Mathias Enard, author of the novel Zone (2009), will present an audio recording in three languages.

Film IV

At 14.45 in the Turner Room there will be a premiere showing of Jamie Fettis’ film homage, Bill Burroughs’ Blues. Also at 14.45 in the Cinématheque, there will be a screening of Nik Sheehan’s acclaimed film about the Burroughs-Gysin Dreamachine experiment, FLicKeR. At 16.00 in the Turner Room, Andre Perkowski will introduce a section of his Nova Express film project. At 16.00 in the Cinématheque there will be another chance to see ILYA V (24 mins) and La femme au lys rouge (13 mins) two films by Frédéric Fenollabbate.

Event 17:  17.00-18.00 — Naked Lunch: Text and Film

(Turner Room)

Three critics come together in the penultimate session to consider specific aspects of both the text and the film adaptation of Naked Lunch, starting with Kurt Hemmer’s discussion of Cronenberg’s controversial film. Fiona Paton focuses on the spiritual dimension in Naked Lunch by focusing on recurrent imagery of ectoplasm, while Katharine Streip considers the construction of character in Burroughs’ text and what it reveals about identity.

Event 18: 17.00-18.00 — sur Naked Lunch (en français)

(Stevenson Room)

Patrick Amine will give a talk about Naked Lunch, followed by Marcelin Pleynet, distinguished poet, novelist, and art critic. Finally, the novelist Philippe Di Folco will present unpublished texts by the editor and writer Marie-Laure Dagoit.

William Burroughs as portrayed in Ed Buhr's film The Japanese Sandman

Event 19:  18.30-20.00 — Closing Time: Rx from William Burroughs

(Turner Room)

After closing remarks by Andrew Hussey, the finale features a screening of Ed Buhr’s new short film, The Japanese Sandman, a hilarious adaptation from The Yage Letters, followed by the explosive conclusion to Andre Perkowski’s Nova Express. The curtain comes down after a performance of electropop by the French duo, Underwires, including their song “Dr. Benway.”