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Translation and Criticism
Translation and Criticism are both modes of re-writing, and both involve an element of creativity which is often neglected or suppressed. This strand explores the edges and overlaps between them, taking in forms like commentary, ekphrasis and paraphrase. It aims to cast new light on the varied processes of translation, and also on the translational activity that occurs when critics brings their writing into contact with source texts, redirecting them to new purposes. Our seminars aim to open up fresh possibilities for the understanding and the practice of both criticism and translation.
In 2015, we hosted an international conference, Prismatic Translation. This helped generate a long-term research project, also called Prismatic Translation, which is now funded by the AHRC as part of the Humanities Division's Open World Research Initiative programme in Creative Multilingualism. Details are here.
Translation and Criticism developed out of work done during 2013-14 under the headings ‘Languages of Criticism’, ‘Philosophy of Criticism’ and ‘Translators and Writers’, For details, scroll further down the 'Research' page.
Prof Matthew Reynolds (English), Dr Adriana X. Jacobs (Oriental Studies), Prof Patrick McGuinness (MML), Dr Kasia Szymanska (MML), Prof Sowon Park (University of California Santa Barbara)
What makes a poem cyber? The term cybertext encompasses two different modalities of writing. One involves the use of digital technology and electronic platforms in its conception; the other taps into the technology of the codex to engage readers’ cognitive-perceptual and embodied (as opposed to hermeneutic-interpretive) participation in the unraveling of texts. This talk showcases exemplars of the two modalities ofcybertext using the experimental works of John Cayley and Hsia Yu, with a focus on how they turn Chinese poetry into multimodal and multisensory artefacts. On the basis of these examples, we further theorise the cybertext as a spectrum category, which enables us to identify gradations of cybertextuality in literary works, based on the degree to which readers may substantively intercept the text and influence its trajectories or outcomes.
Through poetry and translation, Journeys in Translation aims to encourage cross- and inter-cultural conversation on themes of home, belonging and refuge. The initiative encourages people who are bilingual or multilingual and speakers, learners and teachers of other languages to:
 translate or encourage others to translate as many of a set of 14 poems as possible,
 share the translations and reflections on the translations through blogs, in letters, and emails to family and friends and on social media, and/or
 organise related events in their locality at which the 14 poems and translations will be read and discussed.
We warmly invite people to attend the Oxford Journeys in Translation event. At the event 14 poems from the anthology Over Land, Over Sea: Poems for Those Seeking Refuge (Five Leaves Publications, 2015) will be read in English and in translation. Poets as well as translators will briefly discuss their work. Copies of the anthology will be available for sale. Posters showing the poems alongside the translations will also be on display.
Over Land, Over Sea: Poems for Those Seeking Refuge has been translated into more than 20 other languages, among them, Arabic, Bengali, British Sign Language, Chinese, Farsi, German, Hindi, Italian, Shona and Spanish. The anthology of 102 poems expresses solidarity with the refugees who are currently receiving so little welcome as they take to boats and rafts to cross the Mediterranean and make their way with difficulty through Europe. Readers are invited to take a view of the situation which is not governed by the fear and hatred whipped up by the language of media and many politicians. The anthology was edited by Kathleen Bell, Emma Lee and Siobhan Logan. The anthology is being sold to raise funds for Doctors Without Borders/ Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), Leicester City of Sanctuary and the Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Refugee Forum.
What does it mean to close-read a global novel? This seminar will explore the question, airing material from the AHRC-funded Prismatic Translation project and offering new ways of thinking about multiple translations. A cluster of brief presentations by the participants will open onto discussion.
[Prismatic Translation is part of the AHRC - OWRI Creative Multilingualism research programme, and is hosted by OCCT]