HT 2017 Week 2 Updates

Get out of the wintery cold and come to OCCT’s Week 3 events! On Monday of Week 3 (30 January, 5:15-7:15pm) we have an event entitled “(Re)writing Fragments”: Reflections on Translating Poetry in which translation is discussed and illustrated by two poet translators. This event is followed just two days later (1 Feb, 5:15-7:15pm) with Modalities of Reading, a seminar of the Fiction and Other Minds research strand. We’re also very excited about the first session of the East Asian Working Group. This Working Group is dedicated to the examination of the untranslated, underexplored theories of East Asian criticism and takes place at St Anne’s on Tuesday (31 Jan; 3:30-5:30pm). More extensive details for all these events can be found here.

In Week 2 the Discussion Group got off to an impressive start. The slides that were used as a guide to the discussion are available as an attachment here.

We’re keen to have DPhil students convene and host the Discussion Group in Trinity term. Look at our Call for Proposals below for further details.


Events, Grants, and CFPs

1. Discussion Group – Call for Proposals

Are you interested in getting more involved in the comparative community here at Oxford? The OCCT Discussion Group is inviting DPhil students to convene and host the 2017 Trinity term Discussion Group. Interested DPhil students should submit a proposal for a four session Discussion Group to take place in Trinity 2017.

Please include a brief summary of the theme (200-250 words), as well as a preliminary reading list with readings clearly delineated for each of the four sessions. A successful proposal will adhere to the standards established in previous discussion groups, and comparative topics that are of interest to participants from broad range of disciplines and pedagogical backgrounds will receive priority. For examples of possible discussion group themes and formats, please look at our past topics and summaries at

The Discussion Group meets biweekly, on Mondays from 12:45 to 2:00pm at St Anne’s college. Potential conveners must be able to commit to all four sessions. The successful candidate will be paired with an experienced convener to facilitate discussion. For further enquiries contact any of the current conveners: Karolina Watroba, Kate Costello, and Valeria Taddei.

The deadline for proposals is 17 February 2017. Successful applicants will be informed in Week 7 of Hilary term. 


2. Edinburgh German Yearbook 12: Re-Populating the Eighteenth Century: Second-Tier Writing in the German Enlightenment (Rochester, NY: Camden House, 2018)

Edited by Johannes Birgfeld (Universität des Saarlandes) and Michael Wood (University of Edinburgh)

‘If you want to know a nation, frequent its second-order writers: they alone reflect its true nature.’ – E.M. Cioran, The Trouble of Being Born

German-speaking culture in the eighteenth century is a long-established field of research. Scholarship has provided a thorough understanding of the period in which German culture both progressed at an exponential rate and increasingly turned into a major player on the world stage. This was an age in which substantial repeated attempts to reform German literary and philosophical culture were undertaken and often overtaken within a few decades. It was also a period in which an explosive increase in the accessibility of books, the emergence of theatres as places of mass entertainment, and the rise of an educated, wealthy bourgeoisie contributed to the availability of literature and culture to an ever-growing proportion of the population of the German-speaking world. The impulses and ideas generated by the writers of the earlier part of the century were then further taken up by a particularly talented generation of Dichter und Denker that came to maturity around and after 1770. Recent research on this period has focused its attention not merely on the indigenous works and ideas that powered German-speaking cultural renewal throughout the Enlightenment and beyond, but also on the dynamics of intercultural exchange underlying it.

Nonetheless, our present understanding of the German Enlightenment is still dominated by a vast array of major literary and philosophical figures including Gottsched, Goethe, Haller, Herder, Kant, Klopstock, Lessing, Schiller, and Wieland. It is in paying attention to such so-called ‘first-tier’ writers and thinkers that we have gained our present impression of the narrative of German cultural life in the eighteenth century. Yet while certain literary and philosophical figures, genres, movements, and schools of thought have survived literary history, it goes without saying that these existed against the backdrop of a yet more diverse and vivid literary and philosophical scene. This scene includes figures and works that, regardless of differing degrees of popularity, success, and influence in the period, have been and still too often are cast to one side by literary history.

What we might term ‘second-tier’ writers were, however, present in the period and wrote in response to or even influenced those figures that have survived cultural history. Yet we find long lists of names (including, among many others Therese von Artner, Cornelius Hermann von Ayrenhoff, Hinrich Borkenstein, Johann Friedrich von Cronegk, Johann Nepomuk Cosmas Michael Denis, Johann Jakob Dusch, Leopold Friedrich Günther von Goeckingk, Philipp Hafner, Johann Timotheus Hermes, Theodor Gottlieb Hippel, Therese Huber, Daniel Jenisch, Anna Louisa Karsch, Joseph Felix von Kurz, Michael von Loen, Theodor Johann Quistorp, Franz Christoph von Scheyb, Karl Franz Guolfinger von Steinsberg, Moritz August von Thümmel, Daniel Triller, Adam Gottfried Uhlich, or Leonhard Wächter) whose output and productivity find themselves too rarely at the focus of scholarship. In addition, a number of the individual works ascribed to genres that came to prominence in the period have since been written off as not worthy of academic study. This is often due to a general suspicion that such works are no more than cheap imitations of individual first-tier works by Goethe, Lessing, and others.

This volume of the Edinburgh German Yearbook seeks to provide new perspectives on the culture of the eighteenth century in the German-speaking world. By focusing on second-tier writers and movements, we hope to provide an analysis of aspects of the rich backdrop against which German cultural life in the eighteenth century was able to flourish. In re-populating the eighteenth century, we aim to contextualise the literary production of the Enlightenment and foster a more diverse narrative of the period that possibly challenges our present understanding of it. Moreover, it is also our hope to discover aspects of the dynamics that consign particular genres, persons, or movements to the second tier; and to ask how helpful such distinctions are in thinking about cultural, philosophical, and literary history.

The editors invite abstracts for contributions studying the second-tier in eighteenth-century literature and thought. Essays may focus on a particular figure or group of figures or on specific genres, forms, and literary and literary critical movements and schools of thought. Topics may include:

• Poetry;
• Theatre and performance;
• The novel;
• Popular forms of literature and entertainment;
• Philosophical/critical schools of thought and transmission and their relation to literary culture;
• Literary and philosophical networks and institutions;
• Translators and translations of second-tier works;
• Second-tier writing as a response to first-tier works and figures;
• First-tier literary works as a response to second-tier writing.

Please e-mail abstracts (max. 300 words) for proposed contributions, along with a short biography, to both Johannes Birgfeld ( and Michael Wood ( by 31 January 2017. We will confirm acceptance of proposed papers by 1 March 2017. Contributions of 6,000-7,000 words in English will be required by 31 December 2017 to be sent for peer review, and we expect to see the volume published in autumn 2018.

The Edinburgh German Yearbook, launched in 2007, encourages and disseminates lively and open discussion of themes pertinent to German Studies. For a full list of previous and current volumes of the Edinburgh German Yearbook, click here.


3. Arthur Symons at the Fin de Siècle: A One-Day Symonsposium

21 July 2017, Goldsmiths, University of London

Keynote Speakers:

Marion Thain (New York University)
Nick Freeman (Loughborough University)

Arthur Symons (1865-1945) is the dominant figure in English Decadent verse of the late nineteenth century.  Some of his best poems distil the energy of the impression in a way that not only proved inspirational for the next generation, but had already perfected some of the techniques often attributed to the modernists. He was also a prolific translator and influential critic and wrote on a diversity of art forms, including ballet and music, championing the French schools of Impressionism, Decadence and Symbolism. His critical writings on the work of Paul Verlaine and Stéphane Mallarmé stimulated new thinking about the possibilities of modern poetry, and served as an important conduit through which French literary movements reshaped English literature.  Symons stood at the crossroads of tradition and modernity.  At the heart of his Decadent poetics was the paradoxical notion that poetry should ‘fix’ fleetingly ‘the quintessence of things’, an idea which looks back to the psychological unfixities of Baudelaire’s verse and forward to the melancholy and romantic modernism of T. S. Eliot.

This one-day symposium explores the contribution of Symons to the literary and artistic culture of the fin de siècle, with a particular focus on his early verse. We welcome proposals for papers, and abstracts of 500 words should be sent as Word attachments to by 31st March 2017.  Papers should be 20 minutes in length.



4. CFP: Prototypes in Recycling Сultures and/or Cultural Genomes, 20-21 April 2017, Baku

Baku Slavic University and the Azerbaijan Comparative Literature Association (AzCLA) have the pleasure of inviting all interested specialists and postgraduate students to take part in an international conference “Comparative Literature and Culture: Prototypes in Recycling Cultures and Cultural Genomes”, to be held at Baku Slavic University in 20-21-thApril 2017. The conference is part of the “Criteria of National Literature and Culture” project.

The concept of culture, which may seem far-removed from politics, can both unite and divide people, races and countries. The other – the foreign, the unusual, the stereotypical as an alien phenomenon – always prompts interest at the very least and, “if required”, becomes a reason for conflict in politics. This applies to various religious faiths, to languages and customs and models of behaviour. Moreover, it’s well known that many cultures have not simply points of contact, common elements, not only with related cultures (those which scholarship recognizes as related), but prototypes which unites with cultures that are a long way away in time (right back to prehistoric times) and space (right up to different continents), without being limited to the political borders of modern countries.
Confirmed keynote speaker: Sowon Park, Assistant Professor  at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Dr. Sowon specializes in British Modernism, Political Fiction, relationship between Literature and other forms of knowledge, in particular Cognitive Neuroscience.

Discussion at the conference is expected to cover the themes below, but are not limited the following:

How “contemporary” are contemporary cultures and how authentic are they?

Cultural heritage of deleted from modern-day history ancient people was somehow divided, transformed and branched in a new historical and geographical area. How were ancient, earlier versions of contemporary traditions? What were the predecessors of contemporary traditions and beliefs such as, for example, offering sacrifices?

How were shaped up-dated alphabets? Are there prototypes for them?

Words represented symbols in alphabets, and with the acquisition of local features and traditions, are carriers of cultural layers.  This conference aims to consider associations between modern words and ancient words if  they are transformations,  or cultural matrix.

What were or are the names of the same objects, traditions or phenomena in the different languages of people who share the same faith?

How has the same cultural element been interpreted and reinterpreted; for example rites or genres, such as khamsa, kitab or nama in literature, marsiya or march in music? How has the development of writing and translation influenced commonality in the formation of many contemporary words?

We do not exclude consideration of the question of “recycled cultures” in the context of “recycled genomes”. How great a role did natural selection play in the transmission of different elements of cultural heritage? Can we speak of cultural memory as we do of biological memory?

How can “The Human Genome Project (HGP)” shed light on these issues? How unrelated are these contemporary cultures? Why do differences in culture promote aggression rather than mutual understanding when people have the same physical characteristics? 

The “Prototypes in Recycled Cultures and Cultural Genomes” conference offers joint discussion of the interdisciplinary problem of “recycled culture” from different aspects and historical times, including the proto-historic (pre-literate) period, offering, a shared platform to researchers in different academic fields – specialists in literature, linguistics, religion, anthropology, music theory, translation, philosophy, architecture, history, genetics etc.

If you are interested, please send your abstracts (150-200 words max) along with a brief CV to by  25th February 2017.


5. Releasing the Lyric: Translating Latin and Greek Poetry

Michael Longley CBE

Monday 20 February 2017

7pm, The British Library Conference Centre

London NW1 2DB

Tickets £12 (£10 over 60s, £8 con)

On sale from the British Library Box Office

Since studying Classics at Trinity College Dublin, Irish poet Michael Longley has frequently drawn on classical models in his poetry and established allusive parallels between ancient and modern concerns. Over the course of his career he has also translated a wide variety of fellow poets, from classical authors to Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, prompting Justin Quinn to write that ‘for Longley, translation becomes a way of thinking about the world’. In this lecture he will be reading, and commenting on, his translations from Latin and Greek. He will begin with his youthful versions from Sextus Propertius and progress to later poems derived from Ovid’s Metamorphoses and Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, taking in Sappho and Tibullus on the way.

One of Britain’s finest poets, Michael Longley has received many awards for his lyrical poems about love, death, memory, history and nature, published over more than fifty years. His collection Gorse Fires (1991) won the Whitbread Poetry Prize, and The Weather in Japan (2000) won the Irish Times Literature Prize for Poetry, the Hawthornden Prize, and the T.S. Eliot Prize. His most recent book The Stairwell won the 2015 Griffin International Prize. His next collection Angel Hill will be published in June 2017. He was awarded the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry in 2001, and was appointed a CBE in 2003. He was Professor of Poetry for Ireland from 2007 to 2010.

The Sebald Lecture is given annually on an aspect of literature in translation and is named after W.G. Sebald who set up BCLT in 1989. ‘Max’ was a German writer who opted to live in the UK and continue writing in German. His novels and essays include The Rings of Saturn, Austerlitz and On the Natural History of Destruction, and they established him as a leading writer of the 20th century.


6. CFP for the one-day conference “Unheard Voices: British, Anzac, and Turkish Poetry of the Gallipoli Campaign” which will be held at Leeds City Museum on 20 June 2017. Please feel free to circulate.

Follow the link below for further details:


7. You are warmly invited to join us on Tuesday 31 January, when Dr Niall Sreenan will be addressing the Science & Literature seminar organised in collaboration between the Reception of British Authors in Europe (RBAE) and UCL A&H with his paper entitled:

‘Dreaming of Islands’: Three Darwinian Utopias.

We begin at 5:30 pm in G03, 33-35 Torrington Place, UCL.

Directions to this building can be found here.

Dr Sreenan's paper will be followed by questions and discussion, and the meeting will conclude with a glass of wine at 7:30 pm. A précis and speaker profile are appended below for your interest:


9. Institute of Modern Languages Research: Regional Conference Grant Scheme

The Regional Conference Grant Scheme aims to support the study of modern languages outside London, to promote inter-institutional collaborations, and bring together scholars from the wider region as participants or attendees.

The Institute expects to make two awards annually, with a maximum of £2,000 being awarded per application.

Applications are now invited for events planned to be held between 1 September 2017 and 30 June 2018.

The closing date for applications is 31 January 2017.

Further details and how to apply


10. Modern Languages Open is now hosted on the Ubiquity Press platform!

Liverpool University Press is delighted to announce that our Open Access platform,Modern Languages Open, is now hosted by Ubiquity Press - in a new partnership between Liverpool University Press and Ubiquity Press.

Modern Languages Open (MLO) was launched in October 2014 as a peer-reviewed platform for the open access publication of research from across the modern languages to a global audience.  It provides

·         Interdisciplinarity across the modern languages and engagement with other fields from a modern languages perspective
·         Gold Open Access under a CC-BY licence
·         Rigorous peer review pre-publication interactivity post-publication
·         Rewards for article reviewers
·         Flexibility on article length
·         International dissemination under the imprimatur of a university press

The new site is now open for submissions here -

MLO is published by Liverpool University Press, one of the world’s leading publishers in the modern languages, in partnership with the University of Liverpool Library.

Ubiquity Press is an open access publisher of peer-reviewed academic journals, books and data. They also make their platform available to the Ubiquity Partner Network, providing infrastructure and services to university and society presses.

Anthony Cond, MD of Liverpool University Press said: “The new Modern Languages Open site signals a commitment from Liverpool University Press  to continue to meet the needs of open access scholarship in the modern languages.  Essays from the polemical

Translation as Research: A Manifesto to the timely Modern Languages and the Digital: The Shape of the Discipline are now available with a better reader experience, which will only increase MLO’s typical five-figure readership for each new piece of content.  There is no better place to reach a wide audience with interdisciplinary modern languages research.”


Dr Eleni Philippou

Comparative Criticism and Translation

reflections of translating poetry