News: Review of Authors and the World Workshop in London

On 5 December 2014, the Authors and the World hub hit London!


conference speaker 2aTwo of the hub’s collaborators, Tobias Boes (Notre Dame’s London Campus) and Benedict Schofield (King’s College London), provided the occasion, location and audience for a talk on literary celebrity and a student workshop on literary translation and prizes. Rebecca Braun gave a great talk: ‘Embodying Literature: On People, Prizes and Prestige’, which you can watch here: Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3. This was followed by a role-playing exercise, led by professional translator and academic, Sally-Ann Spencer and hub research associate Emily Spiers.



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The event took place just off Trafalgar Square at Notre Dame University’s London headquarters. Students came from a mix of Science, Engineering and Literary Studies backgrounds. This interdisciplinary group generated some fascinating insights into the literary industries from a wide range of perspectives.

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After Rebecca Braun’s talk, the students were divided into two groups: Emily started her group off by giving a brief presentation on the German spoken-word and hip-hop artist Sookee and introducing a selection of the German author W.G. Sebald’s poems. The group was then divided into two sub-groups: one devoted to Sebald, one to Sookee. Each of these groups had to put themselves in the position of a translator or translator-collective that hoped to win funding for a translation into English of their assigned artist’s work. Working in their sub-groups students formulated a ‘pitch’ to be given to the panel judging a fictitious translation award. In their pitches, students outlined not only the linguistic and cultural challenges that such a translation project would face, but also the possible benefits that made their project worthwhile.

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 SallyAnn, meanwhile, coached the members of her group for the role-playing scenario, which looked a little like this:
“New German-English Translation Award: 2014 marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall. To commemorate the events of 1989, the Goethe-Institut and the Arts Council England are offering funding to cover the full costs of translation into English of a literary work by a contemporary German writer. The finished translation will be published by Pushkin Press in the UK. Submissions are invited from German-English literary translators with UK citizenship or permanent residency.”
DSC_0039 copyStudents took on the task of representing the Goethe-Institut, Pushkin Press, a German-English translator, a UK broadsheet reviewer and the Arts Council England. Finally, we brought the groups together and had the “Sebald” and “Sookee” groups each pitched their proposal to SallyAnn’s committee. The committee gave the pitchers a tough grilling and after much debate, Sebald – a tried-and-tested and, most of all, already published author – won out.
It was a fantastic day enjoyed by all concerned. The hub looks forward to going out on the road and collaborating with students again some time soon: watch this space!

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