Criticism

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Criticism
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Criticism
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Criticism

Poetical Geography: The Place of the Antiquarian and the Situatedness of Literature

This article explores problematic relation between the local, the national, and the international in antiquarianism through a focus on the issue of place in antiquarian writings. It looks specifically at the argument that literature can best be understood in its original place of composition as articulated in the writings of Robert Wood. By shifting emphasis from Wood’s later writing on Homer to his first published work, The Ruins of Palmyra (1753), the article suggests that Wood is not a late entrant but an early contributor to the "media environment" of the mid-eighteenth century, an environment characterized by the belief that poetry originates in an early stage of society, that it is composed orally, that it expresses the local particularity of landscapes and national or tribal culture, and that it can properly be traced and recovered by ethnographic, first-hand engagement with its place of origin. That Wood's theory of ancient poetry echoes (and perhaps anticipates) the later work of Percy, Ritson, Scott and others underscores not the separation but the proximity and overlapping concerns of popular antiquarianism with other varieties of antiquarianism less invested in the particular traditions of the British Isles. Ultimately, the article raises the possibility that classical antiquarianism broadly understood, including its varieties more attuned to classical and not national cultures, could also bolster the creation of national literatures that we associate with Romanticism.

June 2014

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Translation for Beginners, or, Teaching the 'Dangerous' in Les Liaisons Dangereuses

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July, 2014
This article focuses on Gillian Dow's experience of teaching Les Liaisons Dangereuses in English translation to monolingual anglophone students of English Literature at the University of Southampton, UK. It describes strategies for introducing foreign texts into the Romantic classroom, and demonstrates how looking across the Channel can improve our understanding of the Romantic-period novel.

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From Pre-Modern Japan to the 21st-Century World: Comparative Translation in the Classroom

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July, 2014
This essay discusses how serial translations and adaptations can be used pedagogically to enhance a student's understanding of the complexities of textual production, re-production and reception. It draws on the author's research in world literature, specifically with regard to pre-modern Japanese texts. The discussion proposes effective ways to challenge our students' understanding of authorship, stimulate classroom discussion, and foreground the centrality of translational concepts to every act of reading literary works, Romantic or otherwise.

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Translation and the Victorian Culture of the Mind: Literature as Cultural History

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July, 2014
This paper details the ways in which contemporary translation studies inform graduate-level study of nineteenth-century literature as cultural history. It examines the way ideas of translation, and the powerplay between the original author and the translator, can manifest themselves in other forms of writing, such as editing and reviewing, and also addresses ideas of cultural translation in travel writing and fiction set in the foreign place. Through this course, students are taught to identify cultural hybridity in the narrative, as well as the ways writers contend with alternative ideological structures through the creative process of translation.

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Translation as 'Genre in its own Excess': Germaine de Staël's 'On the Spirit of Translation(s)'

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July, 2014
Germaine de Staël’s "On the Spirit of Translation(s),” written in 1816 and originally published in Italian translation, allows students to recognize some of the interesting possibilities that translated texts bring to the study of literature, while providing a brief overview of the history of translation in Europe. Staël questions the idea of a “national” literature independent of outside influence. Rather than focusing on what becomes “lost in translation,” Staël highlights many of the advantages to literature and culture that translation offers. Staël’s treatise suggests a variety of ways that Italians might benefit from an infusion of translation using the German importation of English literary works as a model. Wharram’s introductory materials to his translation offer some ideas for educators wishing to address questions of the literary value of translated texts in their classrooms. References to historical events and figures in Staël’s treatise are explained in hyperlinks that lead to webpages in foreign languages. Students can use online software (Google or Bing) to translate these materials, and learn about the pros and cons of Machine Translation. Wharram furthermore identifies how Staël repeatedly uses the French word genre in her treatise in order to highlight the way translation complicates our ideas about generic expectations. Finally, in making a “foreignizing translation” of Staël’s treatise, Wharram offers the possibility of comparing more fluent versions of her text to allow students to observe the kinds of choices translators can make when thinking about how to best accomplish the task of translation.

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Preface: Objects of Translation(s)

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July, 2014
C.C. Wharram’s “Preface” to this special issue argues that translations call on us to rethink the way we face the planet and its literary history. The essay asks a series of questions pertinent to educators regarding the need for and difficulties in incorporating translated texts into courses designed for literature students. Identifying a peculiar “resistance to translation,” Wharram interrogates the historical accuracy of the picture we present to our students when we expunge translators from literary history, and reviews recent scholarship from Romanticists who address the need for translation’s greater visibility. The essay summarizes recent work in translation studies, drawing attention to a burgeoning interest in the productive “failure” of translations to represent original texts in anything other than a distorted form. Wharram goes on to parallel the understanding that a translation creates a wholly new textual object with our contemporary shift in emphasis from the nation to the planet, a shift that manifests a new problem: the vast scale of what Frances Ferguson calls “Planetary Literary History.” Regarding this new history as a “hyperobject” of inquiry, Wharram touches on recent methods for addressing problems of scale, proposing that translations offer us the “structural possibility” for reading them closely and “distantly” at the same time. The essay concludes by suggesting that translated objects facilitate a peculiar, uncanny means of investigating literary history, and like fossils in natural history, have the capacity to withdraw from and index literary history simultaneously.

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Goethe and the 'Werther Sonnets' of Romantic-era Women Writers

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July, 2014
The design of this module is to introduce a new dimension in the literary history of Romanticism that has long been overlooked in our pedagogical practices, and that is the interconnectedness of British Romanticism with German literature. In a course titled Romantic and Victorian Poetry, I pair Goethe's The Sorrows of Young Werther with the reviews and poetic responses it elicited at the time, especially the “Werther sonnets” written by Charlotte Smith, Anna Seward, and Anne Bannerman. This exercise introduces the students to one of the key texts of European Romantic literature, gives them a sampling of the literature of the German movement of Sturm und Drang, and enables them to see how this translated text fed into the literary output of British Romanticism by inspiring imitations and appropriations in different generic forms. Equally important is that this text in particular marks a turning point in the history of the reception of German literature in England. Goethe's Werther also raises many questions about the creative process of translation as a novella that contains a translation of a forged translation: Werther's translations of selections from Macpherson's Ossian.

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Teaching Romanticism and Translation through British Hebraism

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July, 2014
This article suggests that the history of Hebrew-to-English translation before and during the Romantic period can be used to introduce students to translation theories and methodologies more generally. The article describes a strategic rather than exhaustive assortment of primary and secondary texts on the nature, status, and translatability of the Biblical Hebrew language for teachers and scholars. The premise is that these combinations will help teachers enable students to learn the topic while also allowing them to see how they might transfer the translation studies insights they gain to other cultural and temporal contexts.

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Turner’s Slavers, Race, and the Ridiculous Human Fragment

J. M. W. Turner’s Slavers Throwing Overboard the Dead and Dying (“The Slave Ship”) has been thoroughly analyzed as a Romantic and sublime meditation on the evils of the slave trade, which was still ongoing when the picture was exhibited at London’s Royal Academy in 1840. This essay goes beyond the question of slavery to take up the inter-related issue of race, situating the slavers’ depictions of the fragmented bodies of black slaves within a larger network of representations of the “negro” that were produced over the previous sixty years. This network includes an emergent anthropological discourse on human variety and a visual form that rose to commercial prominence at the same time—the art of caricature. Some contemporary reviewers responded to Slavers as though it were ridiculous or funny, and it is argued here that we have much to learn about Turner’s picture and about the construction of racial difference by taking seriously the comic as a register that naturalizes racial hierarchies.
December 2014

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Brazilian Romantic Satire on the Peripheries of Photo-Realism: the Case of Angelo Agsostini

The following analysis considers four abolitionist satires produced by Agostini, a satiric lithographer of genius who worked in Rio de Janeiro in the second half of the nineteenth century. Agostini is shown to have evolved a unique graphic language in order to describe the co-existence of modern urban capitalism with ancient social abuses. Agostini emerges as having fused new ways of looking which came out of photography with the older symbolic and emblematic languages of European print satire.
December 2014

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