A special session of the OCCT Discussion Group organised and moderated by students from the MSt in Comparative Literature and Critical Translation programme. The students explored the topic of ‘Poetry and Untranslatability’ through a series of short presentations, followed by a Q&A and discussion with the audience.
On Monday, we were delighted to host a special session of the OCCT Discussion Group, planned and moderated by students from the MSt in Comparative Literature and Critical Translation. Referencing the notion of ‘the untranslatable’ frequently discussed during their course seminars, the students explored the topic of ‘Poetry and Untranslatability’ through short presentations and a discussion with the audience.
First, DPhil student Gustavo Fernandes Pedroso examined approaches to translating Akkadian poetry into modern English, with a focused analysis of the challenges presented by the ‘Epic of Gilgameš’ and the poem ‘Ludlul bēl nēmeqi'. MSt student Julia Moore then discussed questions raised by homophonic translation or ‘soundtranslation’, drawing on examples from the Outranspo collective, Gertrude Stein, and her own practice. Lastly, MSt student Madelynn Kurtz considered the idea of ‘catastrophizing translation’ as presented in Anne Carson’s essay ‘Variations on the Right to Remain Silent.’ The ensuing discussion, moderated by MSt students Magdalena Gabrysiak and Penelope Ioannou, interrogated how space, silence, and sound play into our understanding of untranslatability in poetic discourse.
It was enlightening to hear the students’ explanations and applications of what they are learning through their course and independent research. More broadly, my co-convenor Ola Sidorkiewicz and I are excited that postgraduates have represented a high percentage of our speakers at the Discussion Group this term—a trend we hope to extend as we look to plan similar sessions in partnership with the CLCT students in the coming terms.