Category Archives: Events of Interest

‘Play, Recreation, and Experimentation’ (Kent)

Interdisciplinary Conference

‘Play, Recreation, and Experimentation

Literature and the Arts since the Early Modern Times’

8-9 Dec 2017

Hosted by the
Centre for Modern European Literature (CMEL) at the University of Kent, Canterbury, with the generous support of CMEL, the MHRA conference award, and the British Comparative Literature Association (BCLA).

Venue: Kentish Barn seminar room, Canterbury Cathedral Lodge (enter via the main Cathedral gate and follow the signage)

(*spaces limited, early registration strongly encouraged)

This interdisciplinary conference aims to explore relations between play, recreation, and experimentation by examining their articulations in literature and the arts (broadly understood as the visual arts, architecture, music/sound art, film) from the early modern period to the present day. There are many instances of engagement with the ludic and experimentation, e.g. early modern literature on the theme of playing with appearances (being and seeming); Duchamp’s Fontaine; Dada and Surrealist practices including cadavre exquis, collage, bricolage; Oulipo and pataphysics; postmodern pastiches and hybridity in architecture, and re-inventions of myth and history in contemporary fiction. Nevertheless, we intend to shed new light on these works and probe their implications for a theory of the ludic through considering the interactions and dialogues between play, recreation, and experimentation. The broad chronological and disciplinary scope is meant to accommodate to the comparative and intermedial perspective that this topic involves.

We are pleased to present an exciting conference programme with a diverse range of topics. Please see our blog page for details about the papers and to register:

Oxford Comparative Criticism and Translation (Oxford)

Oxford Comparative Criticism and Translation is a research programme based jointly at TORCH, The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities, and the Centre for Comparative Criticism and Translation at St. Anne’s College. Since 2013 our research programme brings together experts from the disciplines of English, Medieval and Modern Languages and Oriental Studies, and draws in collaborators from Classics, Music, Visual Arts, Film, Philosophy and History. We run seminars, workshops, conferences and a discussion group; we stage public events, such as Oxford Translation Day; and we edit a book series, Transcript, as well as an online journal, OCCT Review. If you’re interested in comparative literature and translation studies, OCCT is the place to be!

A general overview of the events this term can be found here — or, for more details, see the event descriptions.

OCCT is a Divisional research programme supported by TORCH and St Anne’s College. Our organising committee includes Prof Matthew Reynolds, Prof Adriana X. Jacobs, Prof Mohamed-Salah Omri, Dr Eleni Philippou, Dr Peter Hill, Ms Karolina Watroba, Ms Kate Costello, Ms Valeria Taddei, Dr Kasia Szymanska, Prof Ben Morgan, Prof Patrick McGuinness;;

Translating the World: The Booker, The Vegetarian & Tilted Axis Press (KCL)

Translating the World: The Booker, The Vegetarian & Tilted Axis Press

Thursday October 12th 2017, 18.30-19.30, Council Room (K2.29), King’s Building, Strand Main Campus

Tickets are free but please reserve your place via Eventbrite:

Part of the Arts and Humanities Festival 2017

Who brings books from around the world to our bedside tables, tablets and headphones? When we encounter a novel from Japan or Argentina, how has it journeyed into our lives and how does this in turn shape the world we imagine?  Who works to assist literature across international borders?  And how can we conceptualise their ‘service’?

Writer and critic Boyd Tonkin, former literary editor of The Independent and Man Booker International Prize Judge joins the Prize’s inaugural joint-winner Deborah Smith and King’s academic Zoe Norridge to unpick these questions.  Taking the translator as a key figure in the global circulation of literature, we explore how this intrepid pioneer curates the UK public’s view of the world by selecting, championing and rendering accessible distant writing.

Since it was first awarded in 1969, the Booker Prize has shaped the way in which British and international audiences have read and understood the world.  Originally limited to Commonwealth writers, winners such as Rushdie, Naipaul and Coetzee have extended and complicated readers’ conceptions of the ‘anglosphere’.  The reconfigured Man Booker International Prize, re-launched in 2016 after its merger with the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, takes this further by rewarding a work of fiction in translation.  In its first year the judges celebrated Korean novelist Han Kang’s The Vegetarian.

When Smith decided to pitch her translation of Han’s beautifully crafted and disconcerting novel to her publisher, Portobello Books, she began a journey bringing insights into Korean perceptions of what it means to be human to UK audiences worlds apart.  The publishing house she subsequently founded –  Tilted Axis Press – continues this mission, shaking up international literature with translations of radical new writing.

We discuss why, at a time of increasingly policed borders, such movement across cultures is essential.  Here, to translate is indeed a world service.



Boyd Tonkin is a writer, broadcaster and former Literary Editor of The Independent who now writes on arts and literature for The Economist, the Financial Times, The Spectator and Newsweek.  In 2001 he re-founded the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize for literature in translation, later leading the prize’s merger with the Man Booker International Prize and chairing the first Panel of Judges in 2016.

Deborah Smith translated the Man Booker International Prize-winning novel The Vegetarian by Korean writer Han Kang.  She founded Tilted Axis Press in 2015 whilst completing her PhD in contemporary Korean Literature at SOAS.  Other translations include Han’s Human Acts and Bae Suah’s Greater Music and Recitation.

Zoe Norridge is a Senior Lecturer in English and Comparative Literature at King’s.  Her primary focus is African literature but her research on cultural responses to conflict has also taken her to Papua New Guinea, Argentina and Northern Ireland.  She is currently translating work by Rwandan writer Yolande Mukagasana.

Faces of the Infinite (British Academy)

Faces of the Infinite: Neoplatonism and Poetics at the Confluence of Africa, Asia and Europe. A Three-Day Conference, Thursday 9 & Friday 10 November at the British Academy, Saturday 11 November at SOAS

What links Dante, Rumi, the Golden Age poetry of Spain, Ottoman panegyrics, Hebrew devotional verse and the musings of Muhammad Matar, one of the finest poets of modern Egypt? Very little, one would have thought. And yet these works carry the imprint of a common heritage which, through a range of intermediaries, can be traced back to Neoplatonism and its founding father Plotinus.

The Conference Faces of the Infinite represents a unique opportunity to get to know how the system of thought Plotinus devised merged with the literary traditions of Europe and the Middle East and came to be woven into texts which are acknowledged to this day as foundational and integral to their identities. Proceedings begin with a keynote address by Prof. Richard Taylor which explains the tenets of Neoplatonism and the decisive influence they have had on mysticism and the arts in Judaism, Christianity and Islam. This is followed by some 20 papers given by international experts on classical and modern poetry in Arabic, Greek, English, Hebrew, Italian, Persian, Spanish and Turkish. Each paper introduces the authors and texts to be discussed for the benefit of a non-specialist audience.

In seeking to bring this great literary panorama together for the first time, the Conference aims to explore to what extent these very different traditions are interconnected by a shared spiritual legacy. What does it mean for us today? Does it continue to carry to a message for an age of migration in which different cultures intermingle and are called upon to co-exist in the face of increasing challenges? Taken together, the conference papers will provide ample scope for reflection and debate on this most crucial of issues.

More information, including how to buy tickets, can be found here.

In from the Cold: Northern Noir

Free, one-day event on Northern crime writing, crime fiction translation and criticism at Europe House, London Wednesday 18 October 2017.

Over the past decade there has been a boom in Northern European crime fiction – in books, film and on television. Characterised by dark, wintry settings and even darker themes, this ‘Northern Noir’ frequently addresses important questions about crime, social welfare, immigration, gender, family and marginalised, vulnerable citizens. This special symposium brings together some of Europe’s best crime writers, translators and critics to discuss the characteristics of northern crime fiction. How does crime fiction in Britain differ from Northern Europe? What are the cultural similarities and differences? Is it possible to define a recognisable ‘northern’ tradition of crime writing that crosses national borders? Our packed programme includes author interviews, readings and panels, academic talks, a translation slam and public workshops.

Entrance to this day of events is free but places are limited. You must reserve your place in advance and specify the ONE workshop you would like to attend. Stricter security measures are in place at Europe House so each ticket booked must indicate the actual name of the individual ticketholder.

You can reserve your ticket and view the full programme at the following website: