School of Languages, Linguistics and Film

Events archive

The 2019 George Steiner Lecture in Comparative Literature
7 March 2019

In this lecture, Walkowitz shows how new works of world literature are testing and altering what it means to “know” a language and what it means to write in a single or distinct language at all. "On Not Knowing" tracks the emergence of authors who are choosing to write in second or third languages “ignorantly,” non-fluently, or imperfectly. Walkowitz argues that writers such as Jhumpa Lahiri, Yoko Tawada, and Kazuo Ishiguro are breaking with generations of postcolonial and migrant writers who called for expanding and mastering dominant languages. Instead, Lahiri and others write imperfectly and inexpressively on purpose, creating works that resist the monolingual containers of literary history and point towards new models of multilingualism, and even postlingualism. In an era of global languages, these writers suggest, literary cosmopolitanism requires new strategies of provincialism.

LINKS seminar: Masterclass with Rebecca Walkowitz
5 March 2019

A workshop for postgraduate and PhD students with Rebecca Walkowitz, Professor and Chair in the English Department and Affiliate Faculty in Comparative Literature at Rutgers University.

Translation, Transmission, and Cultural Transfer seminar: ‘The Translator's Gaze: Intersemiotic Translation as Transactional Process’ (Dr Ricarda Vidal and Dr Madeleine Campbell)
27 February 2019

Communication happens on many levels, the gestural, the olfactory, the visual, the linguistic etc. While word-based languages are confined to linguistic borders, which often coincide with national or even regional borders, non-word-based forms of expression can transcend such borders, while, of course still being influenced by cultural traditions. Intersemiotic translation (e.g. the translation of a poem into dance, or a short story into an olfactory experience, or a film into a painting) opens up a myriad of possibilities to map form and sense between cultures beyond the limitations of words. Such exchanges impact on both the translator and the source artefact enriching them with new layers of understanding. At the same time, current terminologies and metaphors associated with translation imply certain unexamined assumptions about the nature of the source, the translator and the transaction between them. Challenging boundaries between source and target, we make a case to reposition Roman Jakobson’s seminal structuralist definition of intersemiotic translation more as a subjective, synaesthetic and relational experience to be rendered, and less as a message or content-and-form package to be carried across modal or medial boundaries. As a transactional process intersemiotic translation is different from adaptation, illustration or interpretation: the artist must adopt the technique of the literary translator, the deep engagement and immersive reading of the source text as well as the loyalty or duty to its prior form. Hence what makes intersemiotic translation ‘translation’ is not so much the end result but the process and the translator’s gaze. As praxis it can be a way of creating new work within the limitations presented by the source text, while at the same time exposing its multiple facets and ‘truths’. We willillustrate our argument with examples from our own practice as (intersemiotic) translators. This talk is based on the first chapter of our edited volume Translating across Sensory and Linguistic Borders: Intersemiotic Journeys between Media (Palgrave, 2018).

Translation, Transmission, and Cultural Transfer seminar: ‘Translating into Catalan 19th-Century French Texts in Prose: Charles Baudelaire and Théophile Gautier’ (Dr Marta Marfany)
23 January 2019

The friendship between the two French writers Théophile Gautier (1811-1872) and Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867) is well known. In 1859 Charles Baudelaire published a biography of his friend and inspiration Théophile Gautier. Years later, on the death of Baudelaire, Théophile Gautier reciprocated by writing a biography to introduce the posthumous edition of Baudelaire’s complete works (1868).In this seminar I will present both biographies, which I am translating into Catalan, for publication in a volume along with other works by these authors. I will explore the main translation challenges posed by these texts, especially those that arise from the chronological gap between the original texts’ mid-nineteenth- century French writers and the twenty-first-century Catalan readers. This historical and cultural distance has repercussion for the translation process. The translator must reproduce the flavour of the language and reconstruct cultural codes that are practically unknown by today’s readers.Some of the translation solutions that I suggest are of course not restricted to Catalan but can be applied to translation into other languages.

Translation, Transmission, and Cultural Transfer seminar: ‘Translating an Oriental Frame Tale in Medieval and Early Modern Iberia and Beyond’ (Dr Rachel Scott)
12 December 2018

This talk will address several of the medieval and early modern translations of Kalila wa-Dimna – a famous Arabic collection of exemplary fables set within a framed narrative. Kalila wa-Dimna was composed in the 8th century by Ibn Al-Muqaffa, a convert to Islam, and was itself a translation of a translation that originated in 4th-century India, known as the Panchatantra. My research takes it cues from scholarship that has conceptualised translation as a political and ontological act of identity formation. I am concerned not with translation techniques but translation as a form of intercultural encounter, as a means of dealing with a culture/society’s relationship with the Other, with its own past and heritage, and constructing an identity for itself in the present. I see translation as a form of storytelling, ultimately. I consider Kalila wa-Dimna and the texts that descend from it as case-studies of relations between cultures, particularly on an East/West axis. My aim is to explore how perceptions of the ‘Orient’ evolved, and how cultural forms and practices that originated in the East were appropriated and in turn used to define social and national groups in western Europe.

Children's Literature, Children's Lives: The impact of '68 on Children's Cultures (Sophie Heywood)
22 November 2018

“Why am I talking to you about May ’68?”, asked the children’s publisher Arthur Hubschmid, “well, it changed things for us radically, that’s why”. The years around May ’68 are widely understood to have marked an important moment for children’s literature, particularly picturebooks, in France. This paper argues that the visual transformation, and change in status of picturebooks, were also the product of a wider, political debate around children’s books, and that we should take seriously the role of ’68 in this narrative. This period can also tell us a lot more about the history of the child in the cultural rebellions of the sixties, and how children and their culture became caught up in postwar social and cultural ideals and their counter cultural response.

Translation, Transmission, and Cultural Transfer seminar: 'Red Books and Russian Agents: Behind the Scenes at Penguin's Russian Classics' (Dr Cathy McAteer)
14 November 2018

This paper examines Penguin’s twentieth-century re-launch of the nineteenth-century Russian literary canon. Drawing on previously untapped archival material (letters, memos, readers’ reports, reviews, adverts), this paper reveals a previously undisclosed ‘behind-the-scenes’ look at Russian-English literary translation in the mid-twentieth century. It offers new insight into Penguin Classics luminaries: Penguin founder Allen Lane, the editors EV Rieu and ASB Glover, and the early translators Elisaveta Fen, David Magarshack and Rosemary Edmonds, whose work also enjoyed frequent airings on national stage and in BBC Third Programme broadcasts. I will examine how these agents pooled their expertise and abilities to bring an accessible form of Russian literature to the mass lay reader. I will be drawing on archive- and text-based materials – a micro-historical approach, as advocated by Jeremy Munday – to explain how translators’ personal/professional backgrounds shaped their translation practice and, in doing so, determined the Anglophone reception of classic Russian literature for almost half a century.

LINKS seminar: Keywords in World literary Studies - The “Collective” (Prof Pablo Mukherjee)
6 November 2018

Lecture by Pablo Mukherjee, Professor of English and Comparative Literary Studies at University of Warwick and member of the Warwick Research Collection (WReC).

Translation, Transmission, and Cultural Transfer seminar: ‘Unfriendly Comparison: Antagonism in China-India Literary Relations’ (Dr Adhira Mangalagiri)
24 October 2018

Comparative Literature excels at studying connection, dialogue, exchange, translation, and other positively-valued modes of relation. In contrast, this paper questions whether the method of comparison can be harnessed to study “unfriendly” relations such as hostility, tensions, anxieties, and the absence of dialogue and exchange. I explore this question through the case of twentieth-century China-India literary relations. Reading Chinese and Hindi texts, I consider how comparative methods can sustain and apprehend antagonism on its own terms instead of aiming to resolve or erase conflict.

Children's Literature, Children's Lives: "You Might Make a Joke On That!": Alice in Cartoonland (Brian Sibley)
11 October 2018

Brian Sibley explores the many adventures of Lewis Carroll’s heroine among cartoonists and caricaturists from the work of Sir John Tenniel (parodying his own illustrations for the Alice books) to the work of such contemporaries as Gerald Scarfe, Ralph Steadman, Steve Bell and Martin Rowson.Brian Sibley is an award-winning dramatist of works by J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, T. H. White, Mervyn Peake and Ray Bradbury. His books include biographies of Rev. W. Awdry and Peter Jackson; histories of the Walt Disney Studio, Aardman Animation and Guinness advertising and books on the making of the Harry Potter films, The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies. He is currently President of The Lewis Carroll Society.

LINKS seminar: Publishing in CompLit - Top Tips from Experienced Editors
9 October 2018

This panel brings together experienced editors active in major publications and presses in the field of Comparative Literature. The speakers will share their expertise on the nuts and bolts of publishing and on current publishing trends in Comparative Literature.

QM Postcolonial Seminar: 'Dinkar's China Writings: The 1957 Chinese Literary Sphere in Hindi' (Dr Adhira Mangalagiri)
4 October 2018

The format of this session is an informal workshop with the aim of discussing a draft of an unpublished article currently under review. If you are interested to attend, please email Dr Mangalagiri in advance of the session for a copy of the paper. 

Translation, Transmission, and Cultural Transfer seminar: ‘Reading Clausewitz to Understand Thucydides: Prussian Militarism and the Modern Study of Ancient Greek Warfare’ (Dr Roel Konijnendijk)
26 September 2018

The earliest academic experts in the field of Ancient Greek military history were Germans with often close ties to the military, and they studied the subject from a very particular perspective. They understood warfare through the lens of Prussian professionalism, the military academy, and 19th-century technology. But the Greeks they studied were amateurs, who had no professional army or officer class or military theory. The result is that these German scholars felt compelled not just translate and interpret sources from Greek to German (and, in the case of their Anglophone successors, from Greek to English), but to translate them from the imprecise and open-ended language of the citizen-soldier to the specific terminology of modern military textbooks. An important element of the way we now (mis)understand Greek warfare is this distortion that lies at the foundation of all our theories.

The Alice Look
1 May 2015