OCCT MT2020 Week 2 Updates

Given the COVID-19 pandemic, we have decided to move our events online. Our first event, on Monday Week 2 (19 October), consisted of a welcome session (12:30-1pm) in which we had the opportunity to introduce ourselves and get to know each other, followed by a poetry reading (1-2pm) with poet Jennifer Wong. Jennifer read from her recent collection Letters Home, which has been named the Wildcard Choice for Spring 2020 and examines what it means to be returning home, whether it is a location, a country, or a shared dream or language. There was a Q&A after the reading.


Enjoy this piece from the Oxford Arts Blog on the Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize: https://www.ox.ac.uk/news/arts-blog/not-lost-translation-new-worlds-oxford-weidenfeld-prize.




1. Breaking Down the Walls of Babel: Dialogues in Translation
Call for Papers
Saturday 8th May 2021
A one-day interdisciplinary conference to be held at the University of Warwick
or online (depending upon social distancing rules in place at the time).

Confirmed Keynote Speakers:

Emeritus Professor Clive Scott, FBA (UEA)

Professor Kathryn Batchelor (UCL)

Translation Studies is a comparatively young scholarly discipline and its place in the university, particularly in the English-speaking world, is a matter of ongoing debate and negotiation. While interdisciplinarity in translation may potentially lead to an enriching dialogue between different areas of study, scholars and practitioners engaged with translation are often isolated in and by their areas of research and communication is often hindered by institutional structures. The aim of this conference is to offer a space where translation can take centre stage, and to further a dialogue between disciplines that engage with translation which may lead to the reciprocal enrichment of Translation Studies and other fields.

We invite proposals for papers of 20 minutes, submitted with a short biography to warwickbabel2021@gmail.com by 5pm on Friday 8th January 2021.

Further information is available at: https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/arts/hrc/confs/babel

The Call for Papers can be found here:


2. We are really looking forward to welcoming you to our next event “Russian Poetry of the Second World War” by a brilliant scholar of Dostoevsky’s works and translator Dr Maria Bloshteyn on Thursday, 22 October at 19:00. It is an excellent opportunity to learn about both renowned and unknown poets of Russia’s World War II period, hear the poems being recited in both languages and ask questions!


"Russian Poetry of the Second World War", a talk by Dr Maria Bloshteyn with poetry readings in Russian and English and Q&As - Thursday, 22 Oct, 19:00


A new bilingual anthology of Russian WWII poetry Russia is Burning was published by Smokestack Books in August 2020. Many poems are now being made available to the English-speaking reader for the first time. Robert Chandler in his review said: “Maria Bloshteyn, editor of the new bilingual anthology Russia is Burning, refers to ‘the extraordinary treasure hoard of Russian poetry from the Second World War’. And she cites a claim made by Dmitry Bykov, an eminent contemporary poet, novelist and biographer, that nothing of the scale and calibre of Russian Second World War poetry exists in any other literature.”

The canon of Russian World War II poetry has continued unchallenged for 75 years after the victory over Nazi Germany. What were the reasons for the enormous output of war poems in the Soviet Union during WWII? Which poets and poems continue to be excluded from Russian poetry anthologies of the Great Patriotic War? We will look at some specific examples of excluded poets and their poems.


WHEN: Thursday, 22 October, 19:00


LANGUAGE: English (with poetry readings in Russian & English)



Please register in advance. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.


*Suggested donations - Adults £10, CamRuSS members, OAPs, students – £5.


Maria Bloshteyn was born in Leningrad (St. Petersburg) and emigrated to Canada when she was nine years old. She received her PhD from Toronto’s York University and was a postdoctoral fellow at Columbia University, where she examined Dostoevsky’s impact on American literature and culture. She is the author of The Making of a Counter-Culture Icon: Henry Miller’s Dostoevsky (2007) and the translator of Alexander Galich’s Dress Rehearsal (2009) and Anton Chekhov’s The Prank (2015). Her translations have also appeared in a number of journals and anthologies, including The Penguin Book of Russian Poetry (Penguin Classics, 2015).


This book of poetry can be purchased from Blackwell’s (Heffers), Waterstones, Hive or amazon.

You can read two book reviews in Literary Review (by Robert Chandler) and in The Postil (by N. Dass).

Full details see our website.


3. Beyond the Two Shores: Indian Magazines and World Literature between Decolonisation and the Cold War 

26 November 2020

15:00 – 16:30 GMT

Online: https://modernlanguages.sas.ac.uk/events/event/23336                         


Part of the Convocation Seminars in World Literature and Translation

Co-convened with LINKS (London Intercollegiate Network for Comparative Studies)

Speaker: Francesca Orsini (SOAS)

We sometimes forget that for many readers in many parts of the world, exposure to world literature largely took place on the pages of magazines, through translations, reviews, snippets of information or survey articles – with the short story as the main unit of literary exchange. One part of my enquiry in this talk – and of a series of webinars on The Magazine and World Literature I am co-running with Patricia Novillo-Corvalan – concerns the production and experience of world literature through the magazine, how magazines differ from other platforms for world literature (the book series, the anthology, the course), and what analytical vocabulary they require.

More specifically, this talk explores how Indian magazines of the 1950s to 1970s “did” world literature, and how this relates to the geopolitics of the Cold War, but also to decolonisation and Third Worldism. If competing efforts on both sides of the Cold War to promote literatures from one’s sphere of influence led to a large number of literary translations that magazines could pick from (leading scholars to hail a new “global simultaneity of literary time”, Holt, Rubin), many in India were wary of the two blocs. As a result, Hindi mainstream magazines articulated their own vision of literary Third Worldism and became sites of “spectacular internationalism”.

This was also the golden period of magazine publishing in Hindi, with several story magazines that invested much effort not just in showcasing new Hindi literary talent but also in translating writing from other Indian languages and from foreign literatures, what I call here “literary activism”. What “significant geographies” of world literature did this translation effort produce? Did literary choices simply follow ideological and geopolitical affiliations? And how is the experience of world literature that magazines produce different from the more systematic but abstracted ambition of the book series or the university course?


Francesca Orsini is Professor of Hindi and South Asian Literature at SOAS, University of London, and a Fellow of the British Academy. She is currently completing an ERC research project on “Multilingual locals and significant geographies: for a new approach to world literature”, from the perspective of three literary regions: North India, the Maghreb, and the Horn of Africa. As part of the project, she is co-editing a book entitled The Form of Ideology and the Ideology of Form: Third World Print Cultures and Internationalisms between Decolonization and the Cold War, with Neelam Srivastava and Laetitia Zecchini.


This free event will be held online, at 15:00 GMT. Please note that you will need to register in advance to receive the online event joining link: https://modernlanguages.sas.ac.uk/events/event/23336


4. PLAYFULNESS: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Cultural Literacy


A Virtual Symposium


Thursday 13th – Friday 14th May 2021


Ask busy children what they’re doing and they’ll say ‘I’m playing’. Ask an adult and they will be playing the piano, the fool, or a video game. While playfulness forms an integral part of cultural expression and communication, its interpretation often depends on cultural expectations and limited interdisciplinary research can be found on the aesthetics of playfulness, or its role in intercultural communication. For D W Winnicott, playfulness takes place in the area between inside (self) and the outside (other/wider cultural experiences) in an intermediate, transitional area. Melanie Klein and Anna Freud both pioneered their own ways of utilizing children’s playfulness within the psychotherapeutic setting as a way of accessing unconscious processes.


Kant’s definition of art as ‘purposeless purposiveness’ sites it at exactly the point where play & seriousness meet. The reification of play occurs when ambiguity, humour & laughter, irony or satire, are deployed in music, literary or visual culture to achieve specific aims (eg. to critique or lampoon extreme or repressive regimes) - for example Molière’s play Le bourgeois gentilhomme, or Buñuel’s film Cet obscur objet du désir), or in postmodern resistance as formulated in Jacques Derrida’s concept of “play” and Jean Baudrillard’s “simulacra”, or to counteract the rigidity of institutions and systems —see for example Pippa Hale’s recent work “Play Rebellion” (2018). The search for meaning in a chaotic world is eschewed, often playfully, and the postmodern medium becomes a parody of this quest. ‘Play’ then also becomes a powerful form of political resistance—of displacing hegemonic narratives not for the purpose of creating something new, but to destroy and reveal the constructed nature of what previously existed.


The act of ‘objectless’, or intransitive playfulness, and its experiential dimension, however, remain largely unexplored. One example of such ‘play’ can be found in Zen Buddhism, as expressed in the arts of the Japanese Edo period and in the visual culture of the Japanese Design Movement of the late 1970s and ‘80s. Another example is the acting method developed by Oleksandr Tokarchuk at his school of creative acting in Kyiv, summed up by the phrase “conducting your self” (written as two separate words). Playfulness, then, becomes part of the artistic personality, when the real world is understood as a theatre stage and its decor.


In a world of increasingly transcultural and transmedial forms of expression, exploring notions of playfulness in their socio-cultural context offers an approach to cultural literacy which can arguably foster intercultural understanding in a manner less readily accessible than through purely experiential means. At the same time, experimenting with the process and aesthetics of playfulness, facilitated by instant communication technologies, which cross-fertilise between ages, cultures and media with remarkable resilience (eg. surrealism), can also offer valuable insights in fostering intercultural literacy. The aim of this conference, therefore, is to invite scholars from a wide range of backgrounds and interests to engage in thoughtful and critical discussion around the multiple manifestations of playfulness and their contributions to cultural literacy.




The aesthetics and/or philosophy of playfulness

Diversity or inclusivity and intersectionality of playfulness

The role of playfulness in interdisciplinary collaboration or education

Playfulness and experimental translation

The role of playfulness in stimulating new ways of thinking in cultural literacy

Playfulness in and out of the psychoanalytic consulting room

Playfulness in media, literature, the visual and performing arts


This two-day online Symposium is designed to generate active discussion, focusing on thinking and talking rather than formal presentations, using simple online platforms and apps to foster a virtual experience. If your proposal is accepted, it will be included in a digital ‘book of presentations’ that all participants will be asked to read in advance of the Symposium. The contributions will be grouped together into parallel break-out sessions of 90 minutes during which each presenter will briefly summarise their points in a presentation of max 5 minutes & three slides, and the subsequent discussion will aim to explore the key theme of the panel.


You are invited to submit a proposal in English for a 5-minute presentation. It should consist of your name, affiliation, email address, title, a 300-word statement on any area of the symposium topic and a mini-biography (max. 300 words).


Please submit your abstract and bio by filling in the form using the link provided below by the deadline of noon GMT on Sunday 6 December 2020. Proposals that arrive after this date will not be considered.


A number of bursaries will be available to support attendance at the 2021 symposium. The competition for these bursaries will be announced in mid-December 2020, with a closing-date in early January 2021.


Prior membership of CLE is required; become a member




Standard £50


Students (+ ID)/ Unwaged £20


Registration will open on 18 December 2020 & close on 26 March 2021


For more info on CLE see the website


occt logo290