Franz Kafka, one of the central figures in Professor Wood's lecture.

Inaugural lecture for Centre for Translating Cultures

Professor Michael Wood of Princeton University will give a lecture on ‘the untranslatable’ to Exeter staff and students. The lecture, titled ‘Adventures in Translation: the attraction of impossibility’ will mark the launch of the Centre for Translating Cultures research centre’s lecture series.

Professor Wood is Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Princeton University, US. He studied French and German at Cambridge University, and has taught at Columbia University in the US as well as at the University of Exeter.

He comments "The idea of the untranslatable is fashionable in many circles these days, especially in Continental philosophy and law, and held to be complete nonsense by lots of other people… This lecture will explore this set of ideas in two regions: a cluster of legal terms in French, German and Russian, and the particular case of poetry, and what it is that gets lost or not in translation. A large part of my argument in both instances is that much of what is interesting and difficult about translation arises not from the choices of individuals, writers or translators, but from broader and more intricate cultural and linguistic determinations."

The Centre, formed of staff members from within the Department of Modern Languages, provides a context to draw together work on ‘Translating Cultures’ within the University. They interpret ‘Translating Cultures’ broadly and explore migrations, border-crossing, exile, diaspora, adaptation, intermediality and multimedia from the 1300s to the present day

Students, staff and public are all welcome to attend the event, which will be of interest to those with an interest in literature and translation across the University.  It will be followed by a drinks reception in the Queen’s Senior Common Room, providing an opportunity for attendees to discuss the lecture’s content with a variety of academics from the Centre.

The event takes place on the 5 June 2013 at 4pm in Lecture Theatre 1, Queen’s Building on Streatham Campus. Entry is free and booking is not required.

Professor Wood’s selection of the letters of Italo Calvino, translated by Martin McLaughlin, will appear in the spring from Princeton University Press.

More information can be found on the Centre for Translating Cultures webpages.

Date: 3 June 2013

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