HT 2016 Week 2 Updates

Week 3 will be a week to remember! Firstly, we have Sasha Dugdale reading her poetry at St Anne's College, Seminar Room 3, on 2 February 2016 (19:00 to 20:00 pm). This is a joint event, co-convened by the Oxford University Poetry Society and OCCT. Click here for more details.  On 3 February 2016 (16:30 to 18:30pm) in the Seminar Room of the Radcliffe Humanities Building, we have the seminar “The Lyric I as Other Mind”. Felix Budelmann (Oxford) and Ellen Spolsky (Bar Ilan) will present a comparative, cognitive approach to poetry. Also on 3 February, Nicola Gardini, one of OCCT’s steering committee, is launching his novel Lost Words in English translation, published by New Directions in Room 2 of the Taylor Institution from 17:00 – 19:00 pm. A drinks reception will follow in the same room. See the attached invitation.

During Week 2, Stephen Romer and Valentina Gosetti discussed the translation of contemporary French poetry with Emma Wagstaff and Nina Parish, and the fortnightly discussion group, led by graduate students and early-career researchers, met to discuss the theme of Intermediality.


CFPs and Events

1. Call for papers

Book History: Beyond the Book in Asia, Africa and the Middle East

CCLPS Graduate Student conference, 13 June 2016

The last two decades have seen groundbreaking contributions to the field of book history in East and South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East that have sought to take into account the complex materiality and multilingualism of cultural production in these regions. However, teleological narratives persist about cultural forms and technologies, and their relationship to modernity, with the printed book and modern printing technologies still privileged as representing modernity par excellence. “Book History beyond the Book” invites doctoral researchers to take stock of recent interventions and seeks to provide a forum for dialogue between researchers working across languages and regions, and studying diverse media from manuscripts and performance to e-books and microblogs. We call upon participants to investigate the relationships between producers, intermediaries and audiences in the broad contexts of multilingualism and of commercial, patronage-based, and other economies of cultural production and consumption, exploring overlaps between moments. For instance, how do we account for the persistence of older modes of manuscript or book production into the 20th century, an aspect of cultural history often neglected by the privilege afforded to the modern printed book? Similarly, what are the spaces that magazines inhabit in the age of commercial publishing? How do we establish methodologies for studying archives and constituting new ones?

Papers are invited for, although not limited to, the following themes:

1. Re-establishing links: Reading the materiality of cross-cultural, cross-media, cross-genre archives.

2. Performance and sound as text and context: Approaching book history in a way that takes into account orality and sound alongside palpable cultural forms.

3. Small-scale publishing: In what ways can we speak of “publishing” in the context of small-scale production, such as in the case of manuscripts? How do small presses and little magazines flourish?

4. The limits of documentary archives: How does one read fragments when researching the production and reception of diverse cultural products such as manuscripts, magazines, chapbooks, pamphlets and newspapers?

5. Methods of comparing: How can one tackle the unevenness of “data” such as publication figures that are available for different but coexisting cultural products?

6. Commercial vis-à-vis the Literary: How can we join the dots between established approaches to literary criticism and the study of the economic and material aspects of cultural production? What implications does this have on the study of canon formation?

7. Travelling archives: How do we read documents of bureaucracy as gateways into investigating not only governmentality but also as codes of secrecy?

8. Publishing without paper: How can we read forms like digital books, e-publishing and mobile publishing, not only in context of a world without paper but in terms of new copyright laws, royalties?

9. Digital readers: What alternative modes of reading has e-literature/digital literature engendered, and what diasporic networks of writers and readers does it bring together?

10. Histories of un-reading: How can the book be studied as a material object of consumption that is sometimes completely divorced from its textual contents, and not necessary read at all?

11. Bookshops and what went before: Approaching the history of the book from the story of bookselling, and the dynamics of production for private and public consumption, how do we understand a/the commercial market for manuscripts? What was the interplay between commercial publishing and older forms of patronage?

12. The colonial book: What are the dangers of internalising colonial concepts of what a book is when utilising catalogues and archives?

13. Censorship and the market: How do state censorship and highly commercialized publishing industry play against each other?

Proposal Guidelines:

Paper proposals should include a title and a 300-word abstract. In addition, a short bio of 100 words with institutional affiliation and contact information is also required. Please submit proposals via email at the following address: by 31 March 2016.


2. The George Steiner Lecture in Comparative Literature

"Untranslatability and the World Literature Debates" delivered by Professor Emily Apter of NYU

March 17 at 6:30pm, Arts Two Lecture Theatre, Queen Mary University of London


Following the publication of my book Against World Literature: On the Politics of Untranslatability in 2013, diverse responses emerged to the book's critique of the political stakes of institutionalized World Literature or Weltliteratur refurbished for a globalized literary studies.  Many agreed that World Literature bolsters a neoliberal pluralism in the humanities curriculum (as well as international publishing), and questioned World Lit's endorsement of translatability as a sign of global currency. But some were skeptical towards the idea that untranslatability or "non-translation studies" could provide a political counter-force. In this talk I will clarify how I define untranslatability and argue that untranslatables can do political work: 1) addressing the ambitions, limitations, and compromise-formations of World Literature; 2) activating terms through a kind of political philology; 3) taking stock of the heteronomy and non-belongingness of language within languages;  4) situating non-translation, non-equivalence, and incommensurability against economies of general equivalence; 5) generating new principles of a cosmopolitan right to untranslatability in situations of checkpointing and mass migration.


Emily Apter is Professor of French and Comparative Literature at New York University.  She is the author, most recently, of Against World Literature: On The Politics of Untranslatability (2013) and The Translation Zone: A New Comparative Literature (2006), and has co-edited, with Jacques Lezra and Michael Wood, the English edition of the Vocabulaire européen des philosophies: Dictionnaire des intraduisibles [Dictionary of Untranslatables:  A Philosophical Lexicon] (2014). Since 1998 she has edited the book series Translation/Transnation for Princeton University Press.

Tickets are free but must be reserved in advance. Click here to reserve your ticket


3. Tales of Commerce and Imagination

Literary and Cinematic Contributions to the Department Store Debate in the Early 20th Century

An event celebrating the publication of Tales of Commerce and Imagination. Department Stores and Modernity in Film and Literature, the second volume arising from the research project between the IMLR and the University of Exeter on department stores as symbols of modernity. The first, The Berlin Department Store. History and Discourse was published in December 2013.

Speakers will include Geoff Crossick (School of Advanced Study, University of London), co-editor of Cathedrals of Consumption: The European Department Store, 1850-1939 (1999) and Detlef Briesen (Universität Giessen), author of Warenhaus, Massenkonsum und Sozialmoral. Zur Geschichte der Konsumkritik im 20. Jahrhundert (2001).

All are welcome to attend. Click here to register in advance or by emailing


University of London School of Advanced Study

Venue: Room 102, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU

Tuesday, 9 February 2016, 6 – 8 pm

Dr Eleni Philippou

Comparative Criticism and Translation

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