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Discussion Group

If you have an interest in Comparative Criticism and Translation Studies, come along to our friendly discussion group, convened by graduate students and early career academics working on literature and theory across national, linguistic, historical, and disciplinary boundaries. If you would like to join our mailing list, please send a blank email to If you have any questions, please email Karolina Watroba: We welcome suggestions for texts and topics for discussion. If you have ideas, or you would like to become involved, please do let us know.

Conveners: Karolina Watroba, Medieval & Modern Languages; Kate Costello, Oriental Studies; Valeria Taddei, Medieval & Modern Languages.

In Michaelmas 2017 the OCCT Discussion Group will follow a format that proved highly popular last year: our sessions will be structured as an experiment in comparative reading out of context. This format seeks to pull readers out of their comfort zone by asking them to compare passages from literary texts without the usual background (biographical information, historical context, etc.) that covertly informs our reading. In doing so, we hope to shed light on our own biases as scholars, with an eye to sharpening our critical practice.

We will meet at lunchtime (12:45-2pm) on Mondays of even weeks (week 2: 16 October, week 4: 30 October, week 6: 13 November, week 8: 27 November) in Seminar Room 3 at St Anne’s College. No preparation will be needed. Free sandwich lunch, fruit and coffee will be provided.

Each session will begin by exposing participants to two short excerpts from literary texts that we think yield themselves to a productive comparison; however, all details surrounding the texts will be undisclosed (authors, titles, time periods, original languages, etc.). We will begin with a conversation with an invited guest, a faculty member involved with OCCT, before opening the floor for discussion. Our guests will be: Matthew Reynolds, Professor of English and Comparative Criticism and Chair of OCCT, in week 2; Laura Lonsdale, Associate Professor of Spanish, in week 4; and Marilyn Booth, Khalid bin Abdullah Al Saud Professor in the Study of the Contemporary Arab World, in week 6. Halfway through each session, the conveners will reveal the identity of the authors and provide further background about the abstracts in question. For the remainder of each session, we will continue the discussion by gradually moving to broader theoretical issues raised by the juxtaposition of the two texts and our reactions to them.

Trinity 2017: four sessions on Reading Out of Context

Hilary 2017: four sessions on Aesthetic Judgement

Michaelmas 2016: four sessions on the Key Issues in the Methodology of Comparative Study

Trinity 2016: four sessions on Multilingualism

Hilary 2016: four sessions on Intermediality

Michaelmas 2015: four sessions on Ambiguity; Inter-Asian Comparisons - Material Culture, Body, and Image

Trinity 2015: four sessions on Aesthetics Today; Inter-Asian Comparisons - Comparisons between East-Asian Cultures

Hilary 2015: Tactility, Poetics and Cinema; Film and Speaking Near the Image; Yvette Siegert on Translating Alejandra Pizarnik; Adam Thirlwell in Conversation

Michaelmas 2014: On Caroline Bergvall; Lyric Philosophy; Benjamin’s Denkbild; Sartre and Heidegger

Trinity 2014: Ekphrasis; Creative criticism; Criticism, creativity and translation - Ali Smith in Conversation

Hilary 2014: Delinking and the grammar of de-coloniality; William Ernest Hocking and comparative philosophy; The Classic, the Canon and the Past; What Is World Literature?

Michaelmas 2013: Travelling Concepts ITravelling Concepts IITravelling Concepts III; Travelling Concepts IV

Trinity 2013: On Translation IV - Babel; On Translation V - Don Paterson; Travel and Theory I; Travel and Theory II

Hilary 2013: On Translation I - Schleiermacher; On Translation II - Benjamin; On Translation III - Literary Translation and Versions of Ovid

Past conveners: Anita Paz, Ruskin School of Art; Amy Xiaofan Li, Oriental Studies; Kasia Szymanska, Medieval & Modern Languages; Peter Hill, Oriental Studies; Rosie Lavan, English.