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OCCT Discussion Group - Hilary 2019
In Hilary Term 2019, the OCCT discussion group pursued further the field of enquiry proposed in Michaelmas 2018: to examine English translations of texts belonging to literatures which have often been deemed 'minor' (after Deleuze and Guattari) and/or underrepresented in mainstream (Western) academia. This term the overarching theme of “minor” literature was accentuated through the inclusion of not only published authors but also individuals writing in refugee camps as well as reconstructions of oral history interviews.
The discussion groups were held at lunchtime on Mondays of even weeks at St Anne’s College and each session was facilitated by a specialist of the source language who selected and discussed one or more passages in translation, exploring the processes of the 'original' text's migration into a new linguistic, cultural and socio-political space.
The facilitators started each session by offering a brief introduction to the specificities of the selected language (modern Greek, Arabic, Romanian, and Czech) and the authors under study; this often included comparing and contrasting different translations of the same text, allowing a further analysis of what features in particular, be they ideological, stylistic, rhythmical, syntactic or semantic, are overlooked, inflated or simply rewritten in the target language.
Following from these short introductions, the linguistic and cultural issues raised by reading the original and the translated work side by side were opened up to a roundtable discussion with the whole group. This enabled us all to collectively interrogate the most significant aspects that a literary translation can, could or should aim to convey. These conversations evolved organically, making the participants’ queries and contributions the very nerve of the discussion.
Our facilitators this term included Dr Sarah Ekdawi, Faculty Research Fellow in Medieval and Modern Languages, on the different translations of ‘The God Abandons Antony’ by the Greek poet C. P. Cavafy; Yousif M. Qasmiyeh, DPhil candidate at the English Faculty and co-convener of the discussion group, on poems completed by both refugees and citizens as part of the Refugee Hosts project in refugee camps and cities in Lebanon and Jordan; Diana Painca, PhD candidate at the Free University of Brussels, on translations of oral history interviews from Romanian into English; and finally Dr James Partridge, Teaching Fellow in Czech at University College, on translating K. H. Mácha’s long poem Máj, the major work of Czech Romanticism.
This has proven to be an exciting term and we as co-conveners very much look forward to welcoming long-standing, current and new participants in Trinity Term and to continuing our conversations through the application of comparative lenses which are never exhaustible.